Most followers have foes. Leaders’ top task is to protect their followers from their foes. When leaders fail to protect their followers from their foes, leaders fail their followers, period.
For the forty-year period from the late 1940s to the late 1980s the Soviet Union and the United States of America were declared enemies, locked in a Cold War which ended only when the Soviet Union collapsed, in 1991. During the most of the nearly three decades that followed, Russia and America have continued much more combative than collaborative. They have not been and are not now, friends. To the contrary, Russia and America are foes. Not simply competitors, but adversaries.
- Historical adversaries
- Ideological adversaries
- Military adversaries
- Political adversaries
- Economic adversaries
- Technological adversaries
Every president from George Herbert Walker Bush to Barack Obama has understood this geopolitical truism. This is not to say that every president has had an effective response to Russian aggression. In 2014 when Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, Obama stood by and effectively did nothing. But it is to say that no president has failed to understand the fundamentally adversarial nature of the relationship. Until now.
No need to reiterate President Donald Trump’s curious, chronic, subservience to President Vladimir Putin. Suffice to say here it has now been proven that Russia launched a cyberattack against the United States. Against the American electoral system, the beating heart of its democracy. If President Trump does not do everything in his power to protect the American people from this existential threat – that persists as I write – he will betray his oath of office. An oath that reads in part, “I … will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”