Monday, January 09, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 1/6/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Trump's ‘disdain' for the intelligence community" PBS NewsHour 1/6/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the U.S. intelligence report on Russian intervention in the presidential election and its implications for American democracy and foreign policy.  They also review highlights from the NewsHour's interviews with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Happy new year, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  Happy new year, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Good seeing you in 2017.

So, let's start by talking about this intelligence report.

Mark, the entire intelligence community is behind it.  They're saying without a shadow of a doubt, in so many words, they are confident the Russians tried to interfere in the U.S. election and they developed a clear preference for Donald Trump.

What are we to make of this?  Does it change the way we look at this election?

MARK SHIELDS:  I don't know if it changes the way we look at it, Judy.  It certainly changes the way we look at the United States' relationship with Russia, I think, and in this sense, that the intelligence community said it made these findings with high confidence.

Ever since the weapons of mass destruction era and the decision on invading Iraq, the intelligence community has been very, very careful to avoid high confidence.  That's saying, we really believe this to be true.  They have been more tentative.

There was no question.  They were unequivocal and emphatic.  Every American ought to be angry, ought to be concerned that an unfriendly nation, a nation that has cooperated with us certain places, but doesn't wish us well, sought to sabotage American democracy, American confidence in our own democratic institutions, and to influence the outcome of the election.

That's a cause of concern and worry and anger.  And I would hope that we would respond, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans, to make sure it never happens again.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  David, how should Americans look at this?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times:  I agree with that, with anger, with shock.

We have sort of gotten used to the idea, because of the news leaks before this report.  But the idea that Russia felt emboldened and apparently fearless to go into our election and manipulate our own election process, whether successfully or not, is a sign that they are outside the norms of normal society.

There's always statecraft.  There's always disinformation.  But this is a step up, a Russia that feels completely free to do this, a Putin who feels completely free to do this, without fear of penalty, and so far paying little penalty.

Partly, it's motivated, I think, by animus toward Hillary Clinton, as we heard earlier in the program, things she said in 2011, 2012, partly, frankly, a desire, a belief that feeling Donald Trump will be tougher on ISIS.

But the thing that should most concern us is a shift in American foreign policy.  We have had a bipartisan belief in American foreign policy based on the post-World War II institutions that believed in democratic global world, which Russia and the Soviet Union was often seen as hostile to.  And most Republicans and Democrats have always basically believed in this world order.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, and maybe Marine Le Pen, do not agree with this basic structure of the world.  They seem to have no respect for the institutions that were created after World War II, and they see a potential alliance of populists around the world who would fight Islam and restore a certain semblance of traditional values.

And so we could be seeing a pivot in American foreign policy that may be on the mind of Donald Trump, certainly seems to be on the mind of Steve Bannon, his ideologist.  And this is a piece of that larger shift.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And, Mark, Donald Trump, the president-elect, does have his own reaction to this report.

I mean, you know, joining in with what David's saying, I mean, he started out by calling it a political witch-hunt.  And then after he was briefed about it, he said — he made a very short comment and said, in so many words that, well, it didn't affect the outcome of the election.

MARK SHIELDS:  As usual, he takes the big picture.  In other words, I won, and anything that in any way diminishes or tarnishes my personal victory, I reject.

His disparagement, make that disdain, openly, for the American intelligence community and its work is damaging to national security.  I mean, the intelligence community, for the security of our nation, for the well-being of our nation, for the economic prosperity of our nation, competitiveness, depends on sources in other places.

And other nations depend upon our intelligence.  And here we have the President-elect dismissing, disparaging, disdaining openly, because it somehow, in his way — his perspective, diminishes his victory, is just astonishing.


DAVID BROOKS:  It's happening on three levels, like, this story.

There is the big strategic level, which I described.  Then there's the Donald Trump ego level.  And his ego is like a comet the size of Jupiter just traveling through the solar system, and we all have to be affected by its [Trump] gravitational pull.  So all of American foreign policy has to remind us that Donald Trump really did win this election all by himself, and nobody else could have helped, and so it was all me, me, me.

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