Before coming home from Vilnius in May of 2016, my wife Kriste and I had one item we wanted to check off our lists, but we struggled to find it.
So we asked a stranger, “excuse me, do you know where Kiaule Ruke is?”
We get a blank stare. Maybe our Lithuanian isn’t very good.
“The mural with Trump and Putin kissing?”
Again, a blank stare. What the heck?! This felt like the biggest deal at the time!
No matter, the internet is faster and cheaper in Lithuania than in the US, so we do some digging online.
Google Maps takes us to the edge of the city, and there it is in all its splendor. We snap a picture.
The trip was worth it.
During the same trip, we have a conversation with one of my old friends who was living in Vilnius at the time. After he finished finding my moderate grasp of the Lithuanian language amusing, we got to politics.
“I hope you the United State elects Donald Trump as president.”
He’s good at pushing my buttons. I wait for him to continue, praying he redeems himself.
“In America, you don’t understand consequences. With Trump, you’ll understand that sometimes there are consequences to having bad leaders in office.”
Flash forward four years, and I had enough of learning about consequences when my friend was sprayed with mace by troops to clear a path for the President to take a photo op. My friend hid behind DC police, who were horrified at the site of this brazen act of violence from the White House.
I had enough of learning about consequences when a friend desperately reached out to me. Her friends were wrongfully arrested for protesting in DC and were being confined in overcrowded spaces. She asked anyone she knew in DC that maybe had connections to lawyers to help her friends.
There was no mistake, both actions within that crazy week were direct consequences of electing a president who took to violence to engage in a race war in his DC backyard.
I had enough of learning about consequences.
At least the doomsday scenario of Russia openly invading Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania never happened.
Let’s face it though, the world is more complicated than traditional invasions. There’s a new world of “hybrid warfare”, which encompasses other means of exerting power like through hacking, spreading disinformation, and exerting influence through energy dominance.
Russia is really good at hybrid warfare.
So how has President Trump fared in combatting hybrid warfare?
Am I about to concede to my Republican friends that Trump was actually tough on Russia?
Or am I about to prove that Trump was a pure agent of Putin and always acted in Putin’s interest?
Let’s see how President Trump really fared in protecting the Baltics by combatting hybrid warfare.
Y’all, we’re about to get nerdy. Buckle up.
Big picture result: President Trump can take credit on certain major actions to improve the security of the Baltics, but also failed to act in times when he could have provided certainty to the future of Baltic security. A Joe Biden presidency would provide more assurance for security for the Baltic countries.
So you win some and you lose some. For this analysis, I’ll overview a comparison of NATO spending, the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), Nord Stream 2 (NS2), spreading disinformation and sanctions.
You’ve probably heard this story before. President Trump asked for NATO countries to reach their 2% of GDP spending on the military, which NATO countries agreed they would do, or at least move towards it, by 2024.
It’s not 2024 yet, but according to the BBC in July, 2020, there are 9 countries that already meet the 2% threshold. This is an increase from 5 countries that met the threshold in 2016. The four additional countries are Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania.
Three Seas Initiative
You know what, never mind. I wrote a whole analysis of the actions & things said by Trump and Biden on the technical alphabet soup mentioned earlier. If you want to see the nerdy analysis, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Baltic-Americans, there is one reason that stands alone for why we should vote for Biden/Harris over Trump.
President Trump embraces tyranny.
We’ve seen tyranny wear the mask of Communism and Nazism. We have to be able to see tyranny wear its mask in other forms – including when the President of the United States wears it.
We know tyranny. It’s filled with lies, propaganda, state violence, incompetence, support from supremacists, attacks on journalism, and attacks on freedom fighters.
As Baltic-Americans we must prove that we learned from tyranny and we must oppose it in all its forms.
Oppose tyranny. Oppose President Trump.
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Views expressed are solely the views expressed by authors and do not represent the views of the Baltic-American community as a whole.