Although many Americans may not know what a quid pro quo is, any American would have to be living under a rock not to know that House Democrats impeached President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming, they alleged, from his temporarily delaying the release of U.S. military aid to Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation of Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.
Donald Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached on December 18, 2019, after a mostly party-line vote of 230 in favor, 197 opposed (including 2 Democrats), and 1 voting present (Tulsi Gabbard) on the first article of impeachment, and 229 in favor, 198 opposed (including 3 Democrats), and 1 voting present (Tulsi Gabbard) on the second article of impeachment. The House’s lone Independent, former Republican Justin Amash, voted in favor of impeachment.
On January 16, 2020, the House’s articles of impeachment were presented to the Senate. The prosecution’s opening arguments and presentation of evidence occurred on January 22-24. Trump’s defense team made their case on January 25, 27, and 28. A two-day question period by senators was held on January 29 and 30. Closing arguments were held on February 3. On February 5, Trump was acquitted in his Senate trial by a party-line vote of 52-48 on the first article of impeachment and a near party-line vote of 53-47 on the second article of impeachment.
Although it was not the intention of House members and the House managers or Senate members or the president’s defense team, the impeachment hearings in the House and the trial in the Senate inadvertently show the insidious nature of U.S. foreign policy.
Consider just a few things that were said on one day, Monday, January 27, by Eric Herschmann, one of the president’s lawyers:
Ukraine had a particularly bad corruption problem. It was so corrupt that dealing with corruption and solving the corruption was a priority for our U.S. foreign policy.
Back in January of 2018, as you heard, former Vice President Biden bragged that he had pressured the Ukrainians, threatened them, indeed, coerced them, into firing the state prosecutor who reportedly was investigating the very company that paid millions of dollars to his son. He bragged that he gave them six hours to fire the prosecutor or he would cut off $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees….
What was important to President Zelensky [of Ukraine] was not an Oval Office meeting, but the lethal weapons that President Trump supply [sic] to Ukraine, and the sanctions that President Trump enforced against the Russians….
Against the advice and urgings of Congress and many in his own administration, President Obama refused then and throughout the remainder of his presidency to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine. In the House, Manager Schiff joined many of his colleagues in a letter-writing campaign to President Obama, urging that, “The U.S. must supply Ukraine with the means to defend itself” against Russian aggression, and urging President Obama to quickly approve additional efforts to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereign territory, including the transfer of lethal defense weapons to the Ukraine military.
On March 23, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging President Obama to immediately exercise the authority by Congress to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapon system [sic]. The very next day, this Senate passed a unanimous resolution urging the president to prioritize and expedite the provision of defensive lethal and non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, consistent with United States national interest and policies.
President Obama knew the importance of missile defense in Europe, but decided to use that as a bargaining chip with the Russians to further his own election chances in 2012.
As President Obama’s defense secretary said, “Missiles would give us the ability to protect our troops, our bases, our facilities, and our allies in Europe.”
I note the following elements of that account:
- solving the corruption in foreign governments
- pressuring or coercing foreign governments
- U.S. loan guarantees to foreign countries
- lethal weapons assistance to foreign countries
- sanctions against foreign regimes
- foreign aggression against another foreign country
- supplying countries with the means to defend themselves
- supporting a county’s efforts to defend its territory
- non-lethal military assistance to foreign countries
- U.S. national interest and policies
- U.S. missile defense in Europe
- U.S. troops, bases, facilities, and allies in Europe
My comments that follow are based on the foreign policy principles of Thomas Jefferson:
We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country, nor with the general affairs of Europe.
We ask for peace and justice from all nations; and we will remain uprightly neutral in fact.
Determined as we are to avoid, if possible, wasting the energies of our people in war and destruction, we shall avoid implicating ourselves with the powers of Europe, even in support of principles which we mean to pursue.
No one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another.
Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none.
A Jeffersonian foreign policy is a foreign policy of nonintervention and neutrality.
Foreign governments are universally corrupt. That is not a problem that the U.S. government should or can solve. And the case can be made that the U.S. government is just as corrupt.
The U.S. government is not the world’s policeman. It should neither pressure nor coerce foreign governments to do anything.
The U.S. government is not a bank. It has no resources of its own. Everything it has, has been taken from American taxpayers. If the U.S. government shouldn’t even be giving loans to U.S. students, then it certainly shouldn’t be giving loan guarantees to any foreign government.
The U.S. government should not provide lethal weapons assistance to any foreign country. Any country that wants to purchase weapons should directly contact arms producers and pay out of its own pocket.
The U.S. government should never issue sanctions against any foreign regimes. Sanctions are a form of extortion and economic warfare.
The history of the world is the history of one country aggressing against another country. The United States should not take sides in any disputes between countries.
It is the job of the U.S. government to defend the United States. It is not the job of the U.S. government to defend other countries or supply them with the means to defend themselves.
The United States should not support a country’s efforts to defend its territory. As former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul observed back in 2014 when Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?”
The U.S. government should not provide non-lethal military assistance to any foreign country, because the U.S. government should not dole out foreign aid of any kind.
Providing defensive lethal and non-lethal military assistance to any country should never be part of U.S. national interest and policies.
The United States should not put a missile defense system in Europe. If a country in Europe wants to have a missile defense system, then it should contract with some firm to install one. I am sure that Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, or Northrop Grumman would be happy to assist.
The United States should not have troops, bases, facilities, or allies in Europe. All U.S. troops should be based in the United States and used strictly for defensive purposes. To have allies means that you also have enemies. The United States should follow a policy of strict neutrality.
And of course, the real question that was never raised during the impeachment hearings in the House or Trump’s trial in the Senate is this: Why is the U.S. government taking $391 million from American taxpayers and giving it to the government of Ukraine? That is a high crime in which most members of Congress — of both parties — are complicit.