GU Politics Fellow Marie Harf led a discussion on foreign relations between the U.S., Russia, and Europe. This was the fourth week of her discussion series, “A Trump Presidency Meets the World.” On Monday, she raised the implications of U.S. interactions with Russia and NATO for a roundtable discourse.
Harf, the former senior advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, and current Fox News contributor began her discussion on the topic of Russian interference with U.S. elections. She stated that there is a “bipartisan concern that there hasn’t been an approach to stopping Russian interference.” The discussion was then opened up to the room about why Trump has not laid out an approach to stop this problem.
One student suggested that Trump does not want to “delegitimize his victory” by focusing on the Russian intervention. Ms. Harf wholeheartedly agreed with this statement and raised the issue of the electorate caring about the Russian interference. One student commented that it would take “outsourcing jobs to Russia” for people to care. Harf again concurred and highlighted the “alarming” fact that people seem ambivalent toward Russia.
Harf then moved the conversation to Trump’s stance on NATO. She brought up Trump’s statements from May that directly denounced NATO members who did not financially contribute their “fair share.” Harf thought that asking NATO members is not inherently wrong, since Obama did the same thing, but that Trump’s abrasive manner is concerning. Her argument being that Trump’s position comes from thinking of NATO involvement as a zero-sum game for America. Then Harf argued that if America tried to appeal to NATO they “would be less inclined to help” because of Trump’s statements.
Her next question was pondered how voters would react if NATO declined to work with Trump. Many of the audience members suggested that the voting response would be limited, with one student in particular commenting that Trump’s base simply does not care about these topics.
At this point, Harf actually corrected the student stating that it would be “incorrect to say that his approach for NATO only had support among his base”. Instead, she concluded that it is feasible that a negative NATO response could lead to a more broad backlash among voters.
At the end of her discussion, Harf brought the conversation back to the original topic of Russian intervention. The takeaway Harf shared was that as Americans we should take the hacking seriously. She implored the audience to take the matter of interference seriously because at the end of the day it threatens our democracy.