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Trump meeting with Putin is the right thing for America

The Fake Rage is real. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE’s critics outraged at the 2018 Helsinki Summit want to see him fail on the global stage but he just keeps winning.

The 2018 Helsinki Summit is yet more evidence that Trump’s bold approach to international diplomacy is reviving America’s clout on the global stage. When he speaks requesting action, world leaders listen and respond in kind. He is showing himself to be the outspoken political leader of the free world, with a spine of tempered steel, unwavering in his pursuit to always put America First. The anti-Trump politicians and pundits willing to sacrifice better relations with Russia, in search of a temporary dip in the president’s poll numbers should be ashamed. 

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Trump said at his joint press conference in Helsinki, “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.” Let me be clear, to get a result that America has never had, you need a leader willing to do something we have never done. The president understands the risk but it is worth it. Peace is worth it, stability is worth it, honest and fair trade is worth it and getting along with a country that with the U.S. shares 90 of the world’s nuclear arsenal is a risk worth taking. 

 

Instead of shouting from the sidelines, they should find ways to work with him and the administration rather than seek to undermine it to boost book sales and speaking fees. 

Having the U.S. president meet privately, bilaterally or at a summit with the Russian president is not new. The hypocritical fake rage about having a meeting is new because the president is Donald J. Trump. President Trump followed in the diplomatic summit footsteps of President Ford in 1975, President Reagan in 1988, President George H. W. Bush in 1990 and 1992, President Clinton in 1997 and even President George W. Bush hosting President Putin as his private Crawford Ranch in 2001. 

President Trump knows that in order to make deals, you actually need to sit down and speak directly with adversaries and allies alike. That’s why he met with Putin on Monday. He even said, “During today’s meeting, I addressed directly with President Putin the issue of Russian interference in our elections. I felt this was a message best delivered in person.”

Trump went on to say, “A productive dialogue is not only good for the United States and good for Russia, but it is good for the world.”

"Too often, in both recent past and long ago, we have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table,” he added.

The president's diplomatic tactics are arguably unorthodox. He operates on the element of surprise, keeping opponents alert and on their feet at all times. That said, his engagement strategy is effective and has so far resulted in an unprecedented accord with North Korea, something once thought impossible. He has also won a commitment from NATO countries to finally increase their spending on defense. If President Trump can negotiate successfully with North Korea he can — and should continue to negotiate with Russia.  

To some critics, however, Trump’s sensible desire to meet with one of America’s biggest international competitors is proof positive he’s somehow a pawn for Putin. Seriously?

New York Magazine recently published a sensational bit of fantasy fiction that claimed,  “It would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.”

President Trump, Russian Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Joint Chiefs chairman to meet with Saudi counterpart Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' despite 'Democrat' remark MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump asks Turkey for evidence on missing journalist | Key Dem calls for international probe | Five things to know about 'MBS' | Air Force struggles to determine cost of hurricane damage to F-22 jets GOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Washington Post to publish special Opinion page with new Khashoggi column MORE or National Security Advisor John Bolton hardly come close to being Russian assets given the laundry list of sanctions and retaliatory actions from this administration towards Russia. 

This will obviously come as a shock to New York Magazine, but there was once a time in which presidents did try to negotiate with adversarial countries and were applauded for it. President Nixon famously traveled to Red China, a move that began a diplomatic thaw that fundamentally changed the course of the 20th Century and beyond.

Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on four separate occasions. Those meetings did not make the Soviets more powerful, nor did they result in cries of collusion from the liberal media. They hastened the demise of the Soviet Union and assured Reagan’s place in presidential history. Trump rightfully noted that even during the tensions of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia maintained a strong and productive dialogue. 

Trump directly criticized Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media who are trying to turn his crucial diplomatic efforts into a political circus. “As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct,” he said.

There is no doubt that Trump’s “We will see what happens” is tantamount to “Trust yet verify.” We need a modern Russia working with and not against fighting ISIS and the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and bringing stability to Syria. 

Trump’s willingness to meet openly and honestly with Putin should be applauded. The president’s direct engagement strategy to ensure peace and prosperity for the American people is the right thing to do and could herald a new age in diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia. 

Paris Dennard is a CNN political commentator and political analyst for NPR’s Here and Now. Dennard worked in the George W. Bush White House from 2005-2009 and the Republican National Committee (RNC) from 2009-2010. President Donald J. Trump appointed him commissioner, on the president’s Commission on White House Fellows.  Follow him on Twitter @PARISDENNARD. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.