Trump and Putin: A Bromance
President Vladimir Putin and Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump have been publicly flirting with each other. Putin has called Trump a “brighter person, talented without a doubt” and Trump has said that he likes Putin because “he called [him] a genius. He said Trump is the real leader”. In a hypothetical Trump-presidency, would a scandalous and romantic relationship like this truly help to diminish the power of the ISIL? Can we trust Trump to artfully strengthen our ties with Russia, even though he has no idea that Russian troops have already annexed Crimea? Do Russian citizens believe that Donald Trump could potentially be a fitting president of the United States?
Both Putin and Trump won popularity by vomiting divisive rhetoric against illegal immigrants and by ‘speaking their mind.’ Putin vowed to solve get rid of the terrorists from the Caucasus while Trump has promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Putin has many reasons to support a Trump presidency, including a looser grip on Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, as well as a chance to redeem Russia’s geopolitical strategic power in the global arena. An article from The New Yorker suggests that “his military actions in Crimea and Syria are meant not only to display a geopolitical toughness but also to rouse a Russian people who were humbled and insulted by the weakness that followed the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras.” Many Russians would love to see Russia as a major player in global politics. With Trump as President, would Russia be able to make its people proud? Would Russia climb up from its abysmal economic state? Would tensions ease between the Cold War enemies?
Something important to observe is not only Putin’s support of Trump, but also what Russian citizens think of him. A survey circulated by Russia’s Interfax news agency found that 28 percent of Russians thought that having Trump as president would improve relations between the United States and Russia, while only nine percent supported Clinton. Out of the people polled, half had a negative opinion of Clinton while one quarter had a negative opinion of Donald Trump.
Many Russians believe that Trump will ease tensions between the two regions. For one, Trump supports Putin’s actions in Syria. He would rather have Russia do the fighting against ISIL while having the U.S. stay out of it. Regarding the assassination of Russian journalists and politicians, Trump shrugs and simply says that America also kills many people. A Trump presidency is practically a gift for Russian authorities. Trump claims that the U.S. gives too much to the rest of the world. What is the purpose of funneling so much money to everyone when it is better to improve infrastructure at home? He thinks Germany and other European nations should deal with Ukraine. Syria? We must cooperate with those who want to bomb the shit out of ISIL. The United Nations? There is no purpose to it. NATO? It was made to fight against the Soviet Union, not against terrorism. We might as well get rid of Article 5, too, which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all.
According to the Tass news agency, Alexey Pushkov, head of the Russian parliament’s foreign relations committee, stated that Trump “expresses readiness to come to terms with the Russian President instead of making conflicts with [Russia], the way today’s administration is doing”. However, it is clear that Trump is ignorant of Russia’s current strategies. When Trump spoke about improving relations with Russia, he didn't mention Ukraine or Crimea. Top-level Russian politicians have also labeled Trump the most pragmatic of the candidates for the White House.
So, what would this bromance potentially do for the betterment of U.S.-Russian relations? The answer is that it would allow Putin to wriggle out from America’s grip and give him permission to expand his relentless geopolitical manipulation. Although cooperation between the U.S. and Russia could increase and tensions could ease, Putin will continue to dig his claws into Ukraine and support Assad in Syria. I’d like someone to tell me exactly how this will make America great again.
TL;DR Trump as President of the United States would allow Putin to prance around Eastern Europe and Syria freely.
The views presented in this piece do not reflect the views of other Arbitror contributors or of Arbitror as a whole.
Photo: "Putin Sunglasses" by Jedimenta44 on Flickr.