(Washington, D.C.) — An exclusive new survey reveals a majority of Americans are increasingly concerned by the threat Russian President Vladimir Putin poses and worried that President Donald Trump is not doing enough to keep the nation and our allies safe.
My publisher and I commissioned the survey, which was conducted by John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates, who has done polling on behalf of a number of U.S. and foreign clients, including President Trump. McLaughlin polled 1,000 likely U.S. voters regarding three specific questions related to Russia, Putin and President Trump.
The answers are particularly interesting in light of recent developments. For example, Putin’s recent State of the Union address was his most belligerent in 18 years. He bragged about Russia’s nuclear arsenal and complained that no one was listening to his claims of achieving nuclear superiority. He even showed a video of animated, simulated Russian nuclear missiles headed toward Florida. This made national and global headlines and raised fresh questions of just how dangerous the Russian leader is.
What concerns me is that only 34.5 percent of Americans said they were convinced the president truly understands the magnitude of the threat Russia poses and is doing enough to counter the threat. On the other hand, 51.9 percent said they were not convinced that the President fully understands the threat and they want Trump to do “much more.” Thirteen percent weren’t sure.
When broken down by political affiliation, the survey showed 77.5 percent of liberals, 26 percent of conservatives and 61 percent of moderates said they were not convinced Trump understands the Russia threat and is taking appropriate action.
Three examples come to mind of things President Trump should be doing but isn’t:
- IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA — Congress overwhelmingly passed bill last year to impose sanctions on Russian officials, but thus far President Trump still hasn’t taken action. It is time to impose sanctions on Russia for their increasingly aggressive behavior, including unsuccessful efforts to subvert U.S. elections and invasion of multiple countries.
- INCREASE NATO TROOP LEVELS IN THE BALTIC STATES — At the moment, there are fewer than 5,000 NATO troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the three NATO allies that lie right on the Russian border and feeling increasingly at risk of Russian subversion or outright invasion. President Trump could and should be sending more U.S. forces, tanks and other heavy equipment and ammunition to the Baltics to create a speed bump big enough Putin wouldn’t feel tempted to cross. So far, he has not, nor has he pressed other NATO countries to do enough.
- SPEAK OUT AGAINST PUTIN — The President has no hesitancy to Tweet criticism of everyone from the leaders of North Korea to Alec Baldwin to his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Why then is he so quiet about Putin? I see no convincing evidence at this point that his silence has a criminal or corrupt motive. But it is odd and unsettling to many Americans, give what a grave and growing threat Putin is.
Given Russia’s history of invasions, aggression and interferences, the poll found that 72.5 percent agreed that Putin and the government of Russia pose a “clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe and our Mideast allies, such as Israel.”
Most officials in Washington are focused on the threats posed by North Korea, Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda, but as serious as those threats are, leaders must not ignore how grave a threat Putin poses to the U.S. and our NATO and Middle Eastern allies.
Indeed, found that fully 60.5 percent worry Putin could be planning other military attacks – perhaps the invasion of a small NATO country, or a Middle Eastern country – because he thinks the international community is not really willing to stop him.
Look, the national security team President Trump has put into place – from Vice President Mike Pence to Defense Secretary James Mattis to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, among others – are first-rate professionals. They clearly understand the threat and the stakes. But President Trump and Congressional leaders in both parties must urgently work together to develop and lay out for the American people a comprehensive and bipartisan strategy to counter the Russian threat and dramatically strengthen the NATO alliance.
The poll results reinforce the theme of my newest political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, specifically that the threat of evil should not be underestimated. The book tells the story of a fictional leader in Moscow who fashions himself a 21st century Czar, all while the American President and his team are distracted by domestic political troubles and rising tensions in North Korea and Iran.
The plot of The Kremlin Conspiracy could be described as “ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.” In the novel, the fictional President of the Russian Federation is plotting a lightning-fast military attack to re-conquer the three Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — once enslaved by Moscow during the Soviet era. Given that all three countries have been NATO members since 2004, the move risks triggering a nuclear war with the U.S. and NATO alliance.
This week, foreign ministers of all three Baltic nations are in Washington, laying the groundwork for an April 3 summit between President Trump and the presidents of the Baltic States to discuss the Russian threat and urge the U.S. to pre-position more troops and equipment in the region to create a credible deterrence to Putin.
As I’ve often said, “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” What if our leaders in Washington are so focused on the threats emanating from North Korea, Iran, ISIS, and China—true threats, all—that they are blindsided by a Russian tyrant plotting the collapse of NATO? I pray this is only the stuff of a high-octane political thriller. But with every day that passes, I fear it may be more fact than fiction.
We need to be praying for President Trump and his national security team that they would have the wisdom and courage to do all that’s necessary to counter the Putin threat and keep the U.S. and our NATO and other allies safe.
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