Our Turn: Under Trump’s watch Russia put bounties on American troops in Afghanistan – and state Republicans remained silent

Published: 8/11/2020 6:20:16 AM

The security, safety, and freedom that we enjoy as Americans is made possible in part by the handful of patriots willing to put their lives on the line for our country. All they ask for in return is that their commander in chief has their backs. President Donald Trump continues to betray that sacred trust.

Most recently, Americans learned that for months President Trump sat on intelligence that Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill American troops, but when he had the chance to confront Russia about the bounties, he didn’t. The deaths of at least three Marines have already been possibly linked to this effort. Since the reports were released close to a month ago, the president has repeatedly failed to take action and in doing so, he has put his loyalty to Vladimir Putin over his oath to our country and his role as commander in chief of our armed forces.

This is not the first time President Trump has caved to Putin. At the 2018 U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki, Trump sided with Putin over the reporting of his own intelligence agencies. Furthermore, Trump gave Russia exactly what it wanted in the Middle East with his abrupt withdrawal from Syria, escalation of tensions with Iran, and an election-driven timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump further encouraged Russia to assert itself in Afghanistan and the Middle East, at the expense of U.S. influence in the region. Now, Trump is bowing to Putin further by removing 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany – weakening our relationship with a strong and critical ally, as well as our military’s ability to act as a strategic deterrent to Russia.

Finally, instead of responding to Russian aggression or protecting service members from future attacks, Trump spent the days following the news of the Russian bounties tweeting that reports of the paid murder of U.S. troops were fake news. Trump made it clear that he was more outraged by journalists’ reporting on this serious issue than the potential shedding of American blood on his watch.

Donald Trump’s betrayal of our service members hits close to home for us here in New Hampshire, where we have a proud tradition of military service. Close to 100,000 Granite Staters – about 10% of the state’s population – are veterans. Currently, more than 1,000 Granite Staters are serving active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and, as such, New Hampshire is home to hundreds of military families who currently have loved ones deployed in harm’s way. Furthermore, since the 9/11 attacks, more than 80 Granite Staters have lost their lives in the global war on terror. This latest action by the president is a betrayal to the sacrifice of those New Hampshire families and the memory of their loved ones.

It is shameful that Donald Trump has so clearly turned his back on New Hampshire’s service members, and just as shameful that Republicans like Corky Messner and Matt Mowers refuse to stand up for the very people that they seek to represent in the U.S. Congress, even when foreign adversaries are paying bounties for the murder of American troops. Corky has touted his military experience throughout his campaign as a reason voters should trust him, but has yet to speak out against Donald Trump’s refusal to respond to the paid murder of American troops. Matt Mowers has remained silent as Trump undermines the service members and military families throughout the 1st Congressional District– including alumni of UNH’s Army ROTC program and Winnacunnet High School’s Marine Corps JROTC program, and more now serving on active duty.

Messner and Mowers have demonstrated that they are loyal to the president first – even when it’s at the expense of New Hampshire service members, veterans, and our military families.

Trump has proven he is unwilling to fulfill one of the most basic and sacred responsibilities of his office. Granite Staters deserve better, and our country deserves better. Now more than ever, we need a president and members of Congress who will put those serving on the front lines – from combat zones in Afghanistan to hospitals here in New Hampshire – before themselves.

(Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth is a former Marine Corps officer and Iraq veteran who served as assistant secretary of veterans affairs and as an assistant to the secretary of defense under President Obama. Tam Siekmann of Londonderry is a Marine Corps spouse, Blue Star family member, and chair of the Londonderry Democrats. Fred Walsh of Londonderry is an Army veteran who served three tours in the Vietnam War. They are the co-chairs of the NHDP Veterans and Military Families Caucus.)


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