Trump's answer to foreign policy woes: Never would have happened

In the presidential debate former President Trump insisted repeatedly that if he had still been in the White House, Russia would not have invaded Ukraine and Hamas would not have invaded Israel.

Both claims are unprovable. But Trump repeated the assertion again and again in his debate Thursday night with President Biden.

It is true, foreign policy analysts have said, that Trump might have been able to discourage Putin from invading Ukraine — but, they’ve asked, at what cost?

Trump, a vocal admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, might have made concessions to Moscow — such as sacrificing Ukrainian territory — that many in the West would find unpalatable.

After the Russian invasion in 2022, Biden was able to rally and fortify NATO in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine. It seems unlikely Trump would have had that influence, given that the largest of NATO countries were generally contemptuous of Trump during his administration.

Trump’s claim that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both militant groups backed by Iran, became emboldened because Biden’s policies built up Iran are also not completely true. The Obama administration did unfreeze some Iranian assets in foreign banks as part of the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2015, which curbed Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

It was Trump’s decision in 2018, however, to abandon the nuclear deal — he said it didn’t go far enough — that sent Iran on a major quest to enrich uranium, which has now brought the Islamic Republic closer than ever to being able to produce a nuclear bomb.

Trump, whose support for Israel essentially eliminated Palestinian statehood aspirations from the picture, took a swipe at Biden in the debate for what he described as failing to supply Israel with the weapons it needs to fight Hamas. Biden said that is not true. The Biden administration held up a single shipment of 2,000-pound bombs to prevent them from being used in the overly crowded Gazan city of Rafah during an offensive earlier this month.

Robust weapons shipments have continued, the Pentagon says. Trump attacked Biden for his bungled handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. To be sure, it was a chaotic disaster that killed 13 American service members and dozens of Afghans.

It was one of the darkest stains on Biden’s foreign policy record. However, he was fulfilling the agreement that Trump executed — in rare negotiations with the Taliban — before leaving office.

Trump also revived a lie he told in the months leading up to his first impeachment over attempts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on the Biden family. He said Biden, as vice president, had sought to get fired a Ukrainian attorney general who was targeting his son Hunter Biden.

In fact, the prosecutor was blacklisted by the European Union, the U.S. and other groups because of his refusal to tackle corruption, which international entities had established as a task for Kyiv before it could be considered for EU membership and other benefits.

On the Ukraine war, Trump said he would be able to “get it settled fast” before he even took office on Jan. 21. In other venues, he has also said he could get Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich freed from Russian authorities who arrested him on what the U.S. says are trumped-up espionage charges. In both cases, Trump is making claims impossible to test.

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