Newsmax to Zelensky: Do you think there would have been a war if Trump were president?

Newsmax to Zelensky: Do you think there would have been a war if Trump were president?

This question feels cringy because Newsmax clearly has an agenda in asking it.

But more esteemed media outlets have agendas too. The fact that an agenda is driving a question doesn’t mean it’s not a good question designed to produce a newsworthy response.

And if Zelensky had given any answer here except the one he gave — “I don’t know” — it *would* have been newsworthy. Either Democrats or Republicans would have come away offended.

Such is the line foreign leaders have to walk when negotiating U.S. foreign policy amid a “cold civil war” between the two major parties. Watch, then read on.

Israel, another country perpetually under existential threat, has understood the importance of maintaining good relations with both parties for years. I remember during the final weeks of the 2020 campaign when Trump announced that Sudan would normalize relations with Israel and put Bibi Netanyahu on speakerphone in the Oval Office, in front of reporters. He wanted an unofficial endorsement from the PM. Netanyahu wouldn’t comply.

Addressing his foreign counterpart, who was on speakerphone, Trump asked Netanyahu: “Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal, Bibi? Sleepy Joe? I think — do you think he would have made this deal somehow? I don’t think so.”

Netanyahu hesitated before offering a halting answer: “Well, Mr. President, one thing I can tell you is we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America. And we appreciate what you’ve done enormously.”

The smile on the president’s face faded as he listened to the prime minister’s response.

Netanyahu wasn’t about to make an enemy of Biden and the Democratic Party days away from an election which the polls showed Biden winning. He was also (comparatively) quick to congratulate Biden on his election victory during the “stop the steal” insanity, a shrewd gamble that Biden’s win would ultimately hold up and an act for which Trump has never forgiven him. Trump took it personally because he views human existence as a series of loyalty tests to Donald Trump, but it wasn’t personal. Netanyahu was just doing what he had to do to ensure that U.S. support for Israel will continue regardless of which party controls the government.

Same with Zelensky’s reply to Newsmax. He demonstrated his strategy once before, in fact, when he repeatedly declined to say that he felt pressured by Trump during their famous “quid pro quo” phone call after Democrats moved towards impeachment. He knew that Ukraine needed good relations with the White House so he took care to stay in the good graces of the Republican president and his party. In fact, he even hints in the clip above that he understands Newsmax’s pro-Trump agenda when he says “sorry if I’ll be saying something that you don’t like” when asked if he thought Trump would have prevented a war. He cares about Ukraine’s agenda, not the GOP’s (or the Democrats’). Again, that means maintaining good relations with the current White House.

Relatedly, it’s interesting that he agreed to do a one-on-one in-person interview with an outlet whose audience is as small as Newsmax’s. That tells me that his team follows American politics and media closely and understands that Newsmax is a pipeline to anti-anti-Putin American populists. He’s trying to win over some of his skeptics in the U.S. by reaching out to them on their preferred media platforms.

We probably won’t be seeing him on Steve Bannon’s podcast, but you never know.

I wonder if he’s already considered the scenario in 2025 when Trump has just been sworn in for a second term and Ukraine needs massive financial help from the U.S. and other western allies to rebuild. Per his own estimate, it’ll take $600 billion or more. As a precondition to that, Trump’s going to want him to admit that there would have been no war if “Sleepy Joe” hadn’t managed to steal the 2020 election. What will he say?

How badly does he want to see Mariupol reconstructed?

Actually, the way the nuts on Russian TV keep talking, it’s more likely that we’ll be fighting in Ukraine in 2025 than financing the rebuild there. I’ll leave you with this clip, a reminder of how reckless their mass delusion about eternal empire is.

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Jazz Shaw 10:01 PM on June 07, 2023