Las Vegas Sun

July 20, 2019

Currently: 102° — Complete forecast

Where I Stand:

Heat is on, yet Trump remains oblivious

It’s hot. And it’s getting hotter.

I am not talking about the fact that Las Vegans are experiencing August temperatures in June. We all know what is causing this change in weather patterns even though some don’t want to acknowledge it. So let’s just sweat together, complain together and pretend together that the Chinese created this fake problem. Meantime, please turn up the air conditioning.

I am talking about the heat that is emanating from the White House and threatening potential conflict with the one country on the planet that can give us a run for our money: Russia.

You have heard of Russia, right? That’s the country that hacked into our 2016 presidential election — with the express intent of swinging the results toward Donald Trump — to such an extent that every intelligence agency in our government has expressed shock, awe and dismay that everyone in the United states isn’t up in arms. Let me rephrase that, our intelligence professionals are concerned about convincing only one person in the United States. He needs to buy into the fact that the Russians are bad. That person lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It is a large White House and it is often in the news — mostly, these days, as a source of a Twitter storm that brews most early mornings.

Yes, I am talking about President Trump, perhaps the only person in America — if you discount a few million people who live in an alternate universe — who remains uncommitted to the plain truth that the Russians interfered with the free and fair elections of the United States of America. Even the U.S. Senate, which can’t agree on anything, agreed almost without dissent to slap sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s country because of his meddling.

Before some of you start complaining, which is an automatic reaction to anyone who dares to disagree with the president, this is not a political column. This is a column from a patriot, a person who loves his country, cares deeply about the people who live here and especially about the young people who have to fight the wars that are meant to keep us free.

I am not suggesting we are close to war, but I do worry that when the president refuses to acknowledge that which every responsible person knows to be the truth — that the Russians tried to influence our 2016 elections — he runs the risk of making a huge mistake in a world and at a time when even the smallest mistake can lead to a war.

Let me be specific. The United States shot down a warplane last week belonging to Syria. It was a fighter jet, to put it simply, that was under the protection of the Russians. Putin got perturbed, probably because our actions made him look bad, look weak, in front of his clients. So, he ordered a no-fly zone in Syria with which he knows full well that the U.S. Air Force will not comply.

Next he cancels a long-scheduled meeting with U.S. officials that was designed to de-escalate tensions between our two countries, which are at some of the highest levels since the end of the Cold War. The decision to cancel was a retaliation for the United States’ actions in both Syria and the U.S. Senate.

So, here is where things can go terribly wrong.

Suppose it is true — and I am not saying it is or anything close to that — that candidate Trump knew or had reason to know about the Russian meddling during the campaign, And suppose he did try to cover his tracks and those of his associates who were in bed with the Russians when he tried to impose his will on former FBI Director James Comey. Relax, I said just suppose.

The best way to prove a conspiracy doesn’t exist is to stage a fight with your co-conspirator. That happens every day in the civil world, and sometimes it works to obfuscate the fact that the parties actually did conspire.

But, in President Trump’s world, we are not talking about any civil actions. What he does, what he says and what the Russians do in response can lead to a hot war at the flick of a heat-seeking missile launcher. At a time when cool heads and sober judgment must rule the day, a quick trigger finger is not what the doctor ordered. Especially, when it all might have been started by a desire change the subject, distract the public or disprove any thought of collusion.

But, let’s say that supposition is too far–fetched, even for the Twitter king. Let’s assume that in his quest to make America great again, the president determines that even though the Russians had nothing to do with our elections last year — in the face of nothing but facts to the contrary — that he can’t let the U.S. be pushed around on the battlefields of Syria. So, as he has demonstrated is his wont, he turns the conduct of any confrontation over to the generals responsible for Syria, thus reducing the civilian oversight that the Constitution demands and requires of the president.

Is it so far-fetched to believe that if the Russians return the favor by either doing it themselves or encouraging the Syrians to shoot down an American plane, that any general in charge would have as his first reaction to such an outrage the words “fire” on his lips?

In either event, with tensions at a very high point, the likelihood of a mistake or an ego contest could get us into a place with the Russians that we have avoided ever since the beginning of the Cold War.

I mention all of this just to illustrate that while we the people may be playing for giggles during our everyday confrontations, the president is playing for keeps, as are our adversaries.

One way to avoid bringing on the heat is for President Trump to acknowledge that the Russians are not on our side and act accordingly.

To continue to ignore the facts is like ignoring man’s contribution to global climate change. We do both at our peril.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.

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