Donald Trump’s secretary of state is apparently so scared of Vladimir Putin that he is rejecting money that is supposed to be used to fight Russian propaganda.
The Global Engagement Center is tasked with fighting Russian disinformation and terrorist propaganda.
“Over the last five to 10 years, there’s been a tsunami of disinformation and anti-American propaganda around the world,” former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy Rick Stengel said. “The Global Engagement Center is one of the few, if only, areas in the U.S. government that could be tasked with countering and rebutting disinformation against America.”
Congress approved $80 million for that effort and President Obama signed it into law. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is also a friend of Putin, refuses to let the agency have the money it needs to do their work.
In a disturbing report by Politico, Tillerson is refusing to fund the interagency unit because he doesn’t want to anger Putin. Apparently, Tillerson would rather just let Putin spread Russian propaganda that hurts our country without a fight.
This is consistent with Trump’s coddling of Russia since Election Day. As we all know, Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 Election. Clearly, Trump and his team are still trying to repay Putin for his help.
A former State Department official with contacts on the inside says that top Tillerson lackey R.C. Hammond has suggested that they don’t want to fund the agency because they don’t want to anger the Russians.
Hammond further expressed hesitation about needling the Russians at a time when Tillerson was trying to find common ground with the Kremlin on sensitive matters such as the war in Syria. The Kremlin-backed news outlet Sputnik has compared the Global Engagement Center to George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.
“Hammond said the secretary is in the process of working through disagreements with Russia, and this is not consistent with what we’re trying to do,” the former senior State official said.
Hammond also tried to cover his ass by claiming that the Global Engagement Center has not prepared a plan for how the money will be used. But that is a lie.
[T]he former senior State official denied that was the case. He said the center’s leaders had crafted a spending plan after consulting with experts at the National Security Council, the Defense Department and those working in the regional bureaus of the State Department.
If that is accurate, Tillerson and his cronies have a lot of explaining to do. If the United States government refused to do things just because Russia would be angry about it, the Soviet Union would have walked all over us during the Cold War.
Now it appears that Trump’s policy is to let Russia walk all over us because certain U.S. policies hurt Putin’s little feelings.
It sounds like Putin is dictating American policy from the Kremlin, and that’s totally unacceptable.
The American people should be outraged and ought to demand that Tillerson fund the Global Engagement Center to the fullest. It’s one thing to save money when it’s not needed, but Russia hacked our democratic institutions and spread harmful propaganda via social media in an effort to meddle with our election. The funding is most certainly necessary and we should not reject it simply because Putin doesn’t like it.
If Tillerson and Trump are this easy for the Russians to manipulate, it would be only too easy for Putin to get them to veto sanctions and weaken laws designed to keep Russia in check.
If anything, this situation proves just how weak Trump and his administration are, and Americans should be deeply concerned.
Featured image via Steffen Kugler/BPA/Getty Images