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“Make America Great Again.” The phrase became ubiquitous during the 2016 presidential election as both a branding tagline and rallying cry for Donald Trump’s campaign. It quickly came to symbolize an “America-first” attitude in solving the country’s problems; rebuffing the rampant “anti-exceptionalism” demonstrated by the previous administration. Now, “MAGA” (as it is often abbreviated) appears to guide Trump’s every domestic and foreign policy decision; even when its applicability may not be clear.
Just last month, the Administration approved plans to sell sophisticated Javelin anti-tank missiles to the Ukraine, bolstering that government’s ongoing conflict against pro-Russian separatists. The move is a dramatic shift in U.S. policy in the civil conflict, as the previous administration refused to offer Ukraine anything other than “non-lethal” aid. As expected, Russia condemned the move as an intentional provocation that could easily escalate tensions not just within the region, but between Russia and the U.S. as well.
Experts - Question - Effectiveness - Decision - Bear
Western experts, too, question the military effectiveness of the decision, and believe poking the “Russian bear” may have been Washington’s true motive. “This idea doesn’t flow from a policy or strategy,” Michael Kofman, an expert on Ukraine, told the Washington Post in August of last year, referring to the then-proposed deal for Javelins. According to Kofman, tank battles are increasingly rare; and while they might prove a factor in skirmishes yet to come, the arms deal is more likely meant as a political message to Putin. “The Ukrainians want the U.S. to provide them with a weapon as a meaningful signal in Kiev and the Kremlin,” Kofman noted.
It as well may be a political message to Trump’s supporters in the U.S. Perhaps to show to his detractors that he is not a puppet of Putin, as many have charged? To establish he is his own man? More macho? Less afraid? Great...
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