America’s Cycles of Change

Make No Mistake: Trump is Serious about Getting On with Russia

Mon, 02 January 2017

US President-elect Donald Trump can be taken at his word about his sincerity in wanting to restore good relations with Russia: He is certain to find welcome potential partners in Moscow; but his greatest difficulties with implementing such a policy will be in Washington, DC.

Through his long election campaign, Trump has been far more detailed and consistent about this aspect of his foreign policy than his many media critics have given him credit for.

Far from being naïve about the Russian government and Russian policies, he has repeatedly made clear he is looking to revive and build upon the kind of incipient partnership that US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush started to establish with the last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.

Trump is preparing to take office with a clear global strategic vision that is not dependent on detente with Russia but that would be greatly aided by it.

He believes that the United States has bankrupted itself and strategically overextended and exhausted its armed forces in 15 years of wars and (failed) nation-building efforts across the Middle East since the pivotal terror attacks of 9/11.

Trump also believes, as he made clear in his keynote foreign policy address at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in April 2016 that the greatest danger facing the entire world and the United States in particular is that of nuclear war with Russia.

This is by no means an exaggerated, ridiculous or irresponsible position to hold. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has its famous Doomsday Clock currently set at only three minutes to midnight – the same setting it held during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Trump may or may not succeed in achieving his strategic goal of forging a new age of partnership with Russia. But he is not a casual about it either.

This is a goal he has clearly, explicitly and repeatedly spelled out in great detail throughout his long presidential campaign. And his appointments of Exxon Mobil President and CEO Rex Tillerson and of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has his national security advisor were clearly taken precisely because he knew they shared his determination to achieve it.