‘We could use that on our southern border': Is Trump right about Putin's 'genius' strategy?


Fact Box

  • On February 23, 2022, former President Trump commented on The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show that Putin’s invasion of “independent” Ukrainian territory to “be a peacekeeper” with tanks was “genius” in his overall strategy, saying, “We could use that on our southern border” and “this never would have happened with us. [...] But [Putin] says, you know, ‘I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent,’ he used the word ‘independent,’ ‘and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace.’ You gotta say that’s pretty savvy.”
  • Russia has deployed over 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s border in the last few months with claims of maintaining “peace.”
  • On January 24, 2022, President Biden and European powers discussed Russia’s troops on Ukraine’s border in an 80-minute video call with “total unanimity with all the European leaders.” In response, the Pentagon put 8,500 US troops on “heightened alert” to deploy if needed. 
  • Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 on the basis of Russians and Ukrainians being “one people” and defending the historic parts of Ukraine as Russia. After a peace deal was reached in 2015, large battles were put to a stop, but “frequent skirmishes” continued.

Siam (Yes)

Now that Russia has ordered its troops into 'separatist' backed regions of Eastern Ukraine, Trump has commented on Putin's strategic move and the unapologetic force in which he is doing it. Tongue-in-cheek, Trump made the point that should the US deploy tanks to the southern border to be a 'peace force,' there would likely not be an illegal immigration problem as America's seen under Biden. Although Trump was not serious in saying 'we could use that on our southern border,' his concern is warranted. 

Since 2016, an estimated 10.8 million undocumented illegal immigrants reside in the US. That number is likely much larger, seeing as how the US Border patrol reported more than 1.6 million migrant encounters at the southern border; four times higher than 2020 and the highest annual number on record. 

The US is a sovereign country with limited resources reserved for its taxpaying legal citizens. It simply cannot support the indefinite support of illegal immigrants by providing for them publicly funded goods and services, including all forms of government assistance, social services, and, in many cases, free healthcare. There is no equity in providing non tax paying foreign nationals what rightfully belongs to American citizens. The burden of taking care of illegals falls on the hard-working average American. Many illegal immigrants also take away jobs from low-skilled American workers, break the law, commit violent crimes, and become an economic burden on American communities overall.

Beyond the practicality of Trump's nod to protecting America's borders, his main point was in Putin's crafty strategy in first declaring a part of the country he wants to seize as 'independent.' Then when moving in, it's into territories already deemed as free for the taking. The US is not free for the taking, and neither is Ukraine.

Andrew (No)

While the optics of the world's most powerful military invading an ally and neighbor would be bad enough, the idea promoted by former President Trump that the United States invade and occupy our neighbors to the South to control immigration would ultimately be ineffective and inhumane. Every time the United States uses force to attempt to control illegal immigration we end up with expensive and ineffective boondoggles, children in cages, and dead migrants. Mexico is a sovereign state and a close ally; its invasion would be criminal and disastrous. 

While former President Trump may have some strange rose-tinted view of Vladimir Putin and his actions, the rest of the world has stood firmly in opposition to his invasion of Ukraine. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have announced sanctions, and even more, authoritarian powers such as China have pushed for diplomatic solutions to this manufactured crisis. The message is clear; the world doesn't like to see sovereign states invaded by more powerful neighbors. It seems that only Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump fail to understand this. 

Finally, although perhaps not surprising, this bizarre declaration of admiration from Trump is at odds with his own stated worldview. Throughout his campaign and indeed his presidency, Trump pushed an isolationist, non-interventionist view of the role the United States should play in the world. He promised, and failed to deliver, an end to America's 'forever wars,' and mused aloud NATO's value. It is totally inconsistent with this line of thinking to invade and occupy a sovereign state simply because it is too complicated to deal with the root causes of immigration.

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