US President Donald
Trump has faced an unrelenting barrage of criticism in the wake of last
weekend’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Most prominent were scathing
articles published on CNN, one of America’s largest news networks:
The most shameful, stunning moment of the Trump presidency – CNN July 16, 2018
Hillary Clinton was exactly right about Trump being Putin’s puppet – CNN July 17, 2018
Trump: A profile in cowardice – CNN July 17, 2018
Donald Trump is a danger to us all. Congress, do something – CNN July 17, 2018
Vladimir Putin must be delighted with his useful idiots in the West – CNN July 18, 2018
What is truly heinous,
however, is that the positive aspects emanating from the Helsinki Summit have
been completely overshadowed by the narrow, mass hysteria-driven media coverage.
Where an armada of
US politicians and mainstream media agencies have been wholly focused on
Trump’s apparent contempt for US intelligence services and his flip-flopping on
whether Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 US elections, almost no airtime
has been given to the fact that Cold War-style relations between the US and Russia
were given a welcome opportunity to thaw.
Arms reduction is a huge positive
One of the most
significant – yet overlooked – points Trump raised during the Helsinki Summit
press briefing with Putin, was that the US and Russia’s combined nuclear
arsenals account for 90% of the world’s nuclear firepower, and that this status
quo is both untenable and unsustainable.
Where many US politicians
and political commentators were hoping Trump would don his boxing gloves and
confront Putin for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its alleged interference in
the 2016 US elections, and its ongoing support of Al Bashir in Syria; Trump
decided to engage with Putin, open a channel of dialogue and nurture a climate
of cooperation between the two superpowers.
To be blunt, the
whole world should be rejoicing that one of the world’s most feared existential
threats – apocalyptic global thermo-nuclear war – is under the spotlight and just
became less likely.
Both Trump and
Putin appear eager for further arms reduction – not only to make the world a
safer place, but to reduce the enormous fiscal burden associated with modernising and maintaining
their unnecessarily large nuclear arsenals. It’s a win-win-win situation for
the US, Russia and the world.
mentioned North Korea in his press briefing, although he stopped short of
suggesting that a mutual arms reduction strategy between the US and Russia
might incorporate North Korea … and possibly even other nuclear armed nations. Let’s
hope the plethora of myopic critics give Trump and Putin some breathing space to
explore this possibility.
US is lost without an ‘enemy’
US politicians have
become so accustomed to Russia being the “enemy” that the prospect of
Russia becoming an ally is almost inconceivable to them. The potential for improving
relations is viewed with a great deal of scepticism and the ingrained suspicion
that there must be some “Soviet-inspired” ulterior motive.
Hillary Clinton was
quick to portray Trump as Putin’s puppet, but she failed to consider two pertinent
expressions that are generally ascribed to astute leaders:
The first is, “Keep
your friends close, and your enemies closer.” While Trump has pushed the
bounds of diplomacy with America’s G7 and NATO allies, he has stopped short of putting
these alliances in jeopardy. Yes, they may be strained, but strained is a long
way from broken.
With respect to America’s
traditional adversaries – China, North Korea and Russia – Trump is keeping
relations good while keeping the politics and business tough. It is certainly preferable
to have open relations with the countries that you’re targeting with tariffs
and sanctions. Consider how much worse these situations would be if relations
were bad – or even worse, non-existent.
Dialogue is better than no dialogue
expression is, “Peace through dialogue”. This was reinforced by a German government spokesman this
week who praised the Helsinki Summit saying that dialogue is the best way to
Although former US
president Barack Obama is worthy of much praise, his refusal to engage with Putin
was both short-sighted and dangerous. Trump has outflanked his predecessor by
opening dialogue with Russia and attempting to improve relations with a superpower
that has 4 300 deployable nukes in its current arsenal.
Where Clinton and Obama
felt nothing but contempt for Putin and Russia, Trump at least has the sense to
respect the latter’s superpower status.
If there was ever a
serious military incident between the US and Russia which saw rapid escalation,
Trump is in a far better position now to deescalate tensions via the “red
telephone” than Obama ever was. It is precisely for volatile circumstances
like these that dialogue and cooperation between leaders is better than isolation
The Trump roller-coaster
As we’ve all
witnessed, Trump’s presidency is a roller coaster full of ups and downs. While
his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and Iran nuclear deal were serious
downs, his meetings with the leaders of China, North Korea and Russia should be
viewed as serious ups – despite the hysteria.
It is, however, a
tragic irony that while Trump may seek to dismantle one apocalyptic threat … nuclear
weapons; he’s exacerbating another one … climate change.
– Robert J. Traydon is a BSc graduate of Engineering
and the author of Wake-up Call: 2035. He’s travelled to over 40 countries across six continents and worked
in various business spheres. His articles explore a wide range of
current affairs from a uniquely contrarian perspective.
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