We have seen the disaster that is Trump’s alleged foreign policy, a collection of hackneyed tweets and erratic phone calls. Now it turns out, as revealed by the Associated Press, that the Trump White House wanted to know about a Polish incursion into Belarus, once called “White Russia,” a landlocked country wedged in between Poland and Russia, with Lithuania and Latvia to the north and Ukraine to the south.
Julie Pace, the Associated Press‘ White House correspondent, tweeted the news this morning:
Also eyebrow raising: senior aides requesting info on Polish incursions into Belarus, which don't appear to exist https://t.co/XFlFubjm9I
— Julie Pace (@jpaceDC) February 4, 2017
According to the Associated Press,
“According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist. Poland is among the Eastern European nations worried about Trump’s friendlier tone on Russia.”
Eyebrow raising indeed. As security consultant John Schindler tweeted, it isn’t as if Belarus will be invading it’s bigger and bullying neighbor any time soon:
No big. It's not like Poland has a history of betrayal by so-called allies or getting handed to Moscow on a platter.https://t.co/sWMIWXFake
— John Schindler (@20committee) February 4, 2017
Poland is afraid of Russia, and for good reason, after being betrayed by Stalin in 1939 and divided between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. When NATO forces arrived in January to their new base in Zagan in southwestern Poland, Russia called them a threat to its national security but Poles cheered.
And with good reason, notwithstanding Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s protests that Belarus provides some kind of meaningful border between the two countries.
The other partner in Trump’s national security fantasy scenario, Belarus, is just as worried about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Belarus is not a NATO member state but Putin worried it may become too friendly to the West and too independent of Russia.
Schindler believes “Minsk is slipping from Putin’s grasp” and that provocations should be expected. The timing of the national security aides’ inquiries is, therefore, suspicious.
In fact, brave words aside, Lukashenko is currently worked up about alleged Russian violations of the two countries’ 20-year old border agreement. As the Financial Times explains,
Russia and Belarus share a border under a 1996 deal that set up a commonwealth known as the Union State. But Russian border guards this week set-up checkpoints at crossings into Belarus in response to Mr Lukashenko’s decision to introduce five-day visa waivers for citizens of 79 countries, including the US and EU member states.
“These tensions are happening because people in Russia are concerned that Belarus will move towards the west,” Mr Lukashenko said at an annual press conference in Minsk, the capital.
“As president I’m not supposed to play games or show my hand, because there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you don’t see or hear and don’t need to know,” he added.
The comments by Mr Lukashenko, often described as Europe’s last dictator, highlighted growing tensions between Moscow and Minsk over Belarus’s balancing act between east and west.
It is more than a bit disturbing that the Trump administration is so ill-informed and amateurish than it would seriously entertain the idea of a Polish invasion of Belarus.
Lukashenko, by the way, lashed out at the FSB, the Russian security agency once known as the KGB and of which Vladimir Putin was once an agent – and the same folks Trump is busily cozying up to in easing the terms of President Obama’s recent sanctions.
There is a very real threat here. Keep in mind that Hitler used a staged Polish incursion into Germany – the infamous Gleiwitz incident – as his casus belli in invading Poland in 1939. If Putin is looking for an excuse to invade Belarus as well as Ukraine, Trump, whether intentionally or in his role as a useful idiot, seems eager to lend a hand.
Tellingly, Trump was not the least bit interested in news about Russian incursions into Ukraine, which are anything but the product of overheated and Kremlin-influenced White House imaginations.
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