Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a historic speech (video below) to the United States Congress on Wednesday to make a personal plea for aid to beat back Vladimir Putin and Russia’s brutal, genocidal invasion. It was a compelling, impassioned address in support of his nation’s battle for democracy and liberty. He was received by Congress with respect and admiration for his courage and devotion to freedom.
However, at the same time that Zelenskyy was speaking, Donald Trump was tweeting (via his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill). And his message to the nation – or more accurately, to his cult followers – could not have been more different. Rather than acknowledging the unprecedented event that was taking place in our nation’s Capitol, Trump chose to regurgitate some old, debunked lies that were laser focused entirely on himself, as if he could ever do otherwise. In his typical, run-on incoherence, he babbled that…
“People forget so quickly, with the help of the Fake News, that it was me that got the 20 out of 28 delinquent NATO countries to start paying the money that they owed in order to rebuild a floundering NATO. Nobody knew things would happen so rapidly, but NATO was poor and now it is rich, and all of the Fake News commentators that said Trump was tearing down NATO should be ashamed of themselves for telling lies. Not only was the United States being taken advantage of by the EU on trade, but it was forced to pay the costs of the many delinquent NATO countries. Bush and Obama did nothing but make speeches and talk—I acted, and acted strongly. I said to them, ‘if you don’t pay up, no protection.’ They all paid up, and paid up quickly. It’s a story that’s never reported, but that’s only because we have a corrupt press in our Country!”
This meandering mess merits a fact-based breakdown. Let’s begin with Trump’s complaint that the “fake” news has made people forget that he “got the 20 out of 28 delinquent NATO countries to start paying.” First of all, he didn’t do that. NATO members began “increas[ing] their defense spending in 2015 and 2016, before Trump took office.” That was during Obama’s term. And the assertion that NATO was “floundering” is wholly fictional.
Trump went on to whine about “Fake News commentators that said Trump was tearing down NATO.” Which is demonstrably true. He even referred to the alliance as “obsolete,” and planned to withdraw from it.
Trump’s claim that the U.S. “was forced to pay the costs of the many delinquent NATO countries,” has no basis in reality. What’s more, there are no “dues” to belong to NATO, so member nations cannot be “delinquent,” and Trump never made them “pay up.” NATO members simply agree to a goal of spending 2% of of their annual GDP on their own defense budgets.
Finally, Trump actually admits that he extorted NATO by threatening to renege on the commitment of mutual defense stipulated in the treaty. “If you don’t pay up,” Trump warned, “no protection.” That’s reminiscent of Trump’s extortion attempt against Zelenskyy, when he withheld military aid already allocated by Congress if Zelenskyy didn’t help him manufacture dirt on then-candidate Biden.
This entire statement reflects the mind of someone severely disturbed. It affirms prior diagnoses of Trump as a malignant narcissist. He turns every discussion into one that is centered on exalting himself. And if he can also disparage his foes, so much the better. For him to yammer like this on the same day that Zelenskyy acquitted himself with such dignity, truly distinguishes the differences between a hero and America’s preeminent zero. Yet he is still the beloved Dear Leader of today’s repugnant Republican Party.
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