The largest political defeat in British history was handed to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government yesterday by the British Parliament with its rejection the May Government’s Brexit proposal. The vote left her Government as well as the European Union challenged as it has never been before—with no acceptable solution in sight.
While the Parliament saved Theresa May today from a vote of no-confidence that had been placed before it by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, no one believes that this is anything more than a momentary respite in a battle which needs at least some resolution by March 29. In all probability only a second referendum keeping Britain in the EU will save the situation in the long-run; but even getting to that scenario is an enormous challenge with an unknown outcome.
This political confusion in Britain is deeply troubling to most nations in the West, including diplomats, economists, and businesses in the U.S. How President Trump views this situation is unclear and unpredictable. The only place where the continuing disruption in Europe is being greeted with pleasure and delight is in Moscow. For Russia, chaos in the West is a win for Mr. Putin.
It is in this light as well, that President Trump’s reported persistent questioning as to why the U.S. remains in NATO has aroused great concerns in national security circles in Washington and throughout the world. While the President’s frequent demands for greater financial burden sharing by the other NATO members has received some positive responses in Europe, leaving NATO—for whatever reason—was not suggested.
As Trump toys with disrupting the most successful defense treaty that the world has even seen, once again it is the leaders in the Kremlin who are smiling. Russia has accomplished more global disruption in the first two years of the Trump Administration than it ever dreamed it could have achieved. In the Middle East, in South America, among the former members of the USSR, and in Western Europe, Russia has seen many of its historic goals being realized with only minimal effort. It has been as if Putin has been winning at a board or video game.
At the same time, the contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over President Trump’s nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General produced few surprises. The exchanges were very blunt and probed deeply into all the critical issues which have concerned Democrats who are anxious that the Mueller investigation continue unencumbered. Barr went as far as any Trump nominee presumably would go and still be Trump’s AG. He endeavored to allay Democratic fears that he would interfere with the Mueller investigation in any way. Barr’s position on presidential power and authority did raise numerous concerns, but the Republicans do control the Senate.
What was left unstated was the fact that the pain-staking way Mueller and his team have continued to proceed with their investigations has and is likely to continue to produce indictments, pleadings, and disclosures. So much will already be in the Courts and in the public arena, that even if only a summary of Mueller’s findings is initially made public, it will be more than sufficient. Congress and the American people will be able to determine exactly what culpability President Trump had with respect to Russia, the 2016 campaign, his personal business arrangements, and misuse or abuse of power.
For most Americans the most alarming part of Trump’s relationship with Russia will not likely even fall within Mueller’s purview. The question is in what danger the President has placed the country through his unknown and undisclosed private conversations with Vladimir Putin.