Retired Army Lt. Col. and former Fox News contributor Ralph Peters is sounding the alarm about Trump's upcoming meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
As Trump prepares to meet with Vladimir Putin next month, former military analyst and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters is sounding the alarm and warning that Trump can't be trusted alone with the Russian president.
The upcoming Trump-Putin summit, scheduled for July, "is cause for alarm," Peters told host Anderson Cooper during an appearance on CNN's "AC 360" Wednesday night.
"If [national security adviser] John Bolton can do one service for his country, it will be to do all he can to prevent a one-on-one Putin-Trump meeting behind closed doors," he said.
Putin "knows how to work Trump and he studies him," Peters warned, "and our president is impulsive and undisciplined."
"We don’t know what he might blurt out — what state secrets he might blurt out. We don’t know what he might agree to behind closed doors. We are — unfortunately, Anderson, we have a president we cannot trust."
Peters, a former Fox News commentator who left the network after being silenced for not sufficiently supporting Trump, noted that Putin has gotten the best of "three presidents in a row," and is now "devouring Trump."
He then cited four lines from an A.E. Housman poem that he said perfectly capture the relationship between Trump and Putin:
The Russian bear is huge and wild.
He has devoured the infant child.
The infant child is not aware
It has been eaten by the bear.
"And President Trump is that infant child," Peters said.
There's good reason to be concerned about what might happen if Trump meets alone with Putin.
As a former KGB agent, Putin does his homework and approaches meetings with world leaders as opportunities to gather intelligence and take advantage of any weaknesses he identifies. He studies Trump carefully — even going as far as asking his staff to include Trump’s tweets in his briefings — and he knows how to appeal to Trump's ego to get what he wants.
"Putin has been in power for so many years and, by character, he knows how to handle things and how to outsmart others, including presidents of the United States," explained one-time KGB general Oleg Kalugin.
Trump, meanwhile, doesn't believe in preparing for such encounters — or preparing for much of anything at all. He "rarely, if ever" reads his daily intelligence briefings, and his attention span is so short that his aides have had to come up with tricks just to get him to focus when they try to discuss pressing national security issues.
When asked why he skipped his intelligence briefings, Trump responded, "I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m, like, a smart person."
He has also said that he doesn't read much because he doesn't think he needs to, and that he makes decisions "with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words 'common sense,' because I have a lot of common sense."
Besides being impulsive and incompetent, Trump also has a desperate need for approval that drives him to seek praise from anyone and everyone, regardless of their intentions or ulterior motives.
This has resulted in disastrous consequences, like the May 2017 Oval Office meeting during which Trump disclosed top-secret intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a breach that was described as "deadly serious and reckless in the extreme."
As Peters described earlier this month, these traits make Trump "the perfect target for Russian intelligence."
"Here is someone who has no self-control, a sense of sexual entitlement, and intermittent financial crises. That’s made to order for seduction by Russian intelligence," Peters said during a previous appearance on CNN.
He also said he is "convinced that Vladimir Putin has a grip on Trump," citing his unwillingness to criticize Putin, his reluctance to impose sanctions to punish Russia for its attack on our elections, and his pattern of prioritizing his relationship with Putin while destroying relationships with America's closest allies.
The upcoming summit with Putin will take place almost exactly year after Trump secretly met with the Russian president on the sidelines of the G20 summit — an encounter that he failed to disclose until after it was exposed by Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer. The only other person in attendance during the Trump-Putin meeting was Putin's translator.
The undisclosed encounter came just after a one-on-one meeting between the two world leaders, during which Trump accepted Putin's denials that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election, rejecting the unanimous assessment of the entire intelligence community.
He did nearly the exact same thing four months later, except the second time he explicitly defended Putin and lashed out at U.S. intelligence agencies.
Clearly, Peters is right to be concerned about the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting. When Trump goes into it, he'll be just as unprepared, impulsive, and self-serving as he's always been, and he'll bring with him his inexplicable admiration for murderous dictators.
Furthermore, Putin knows that Trump is resentful and hostile toward the intelligence community, and he knows how to use that to take advantage of Trump to the detriment of American interests and national security.
Trump is, as Peters said, an "infant child" — except infants have the capacity to learn from their mistakes.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.