Donald Trump is about to begin his presidency with an unambiguous stain of illegitimacy. He lost the election’s popular vote by an unprecedented three million votes, and is somewhat of a Manchurian candidate having won with the help of unmistakable Russian interference in our election.
Why does Vladimir Putin support Trump? Because Trump is woefully unprepared to be president, and nothing does more to bolster Russia’s geo-political position in the world than a weak, bumbling American presidency that alienates and sabotages its own geo-political interests. Interests that have historically antagonized Russia.
Here is a greatest hits record of Trump’s pre-inauguration foreign policy blunders that likely convinced Putin that Trump was his man:
- In the debates, Trump apparently didn’t know that China was not included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Also in the debates, Trump appeared not to understand the power of the nuclear capabilities he is about to possess.
- Contrasting with decades of US efforts toward global nonproliferation, as well as common sense, Trump suggested that Japan, South Korea, and even Saudi Arabia should build their own nuclear weapons to protect themselves, rather than rely on America’s nuclear umbrella.
- Trump suggested that America should abandon its seven decade promise to honor NATO’s pledge of mutual defense as per Article 5, and potentially abandon Eastern Europe to Russian annexation… unless small, sworn allies paid more money–as if the strongest and therefore most responsible military on Earth should be a highest-bidder mercenary force. The NATO alliance is how the US won the Cold War, and no country on Earth has benefitted more from NATO than the United States because for 70 years Europe has been united in its loyalty to the US. This cavalier attitude toward US allies is Trump’s greatest gift to Putin.
- Trump promised to rip up the Iran Deal (a promise he since has seemed to broken, mind you), an action that would make Iran morally superior to the US and convince the rest of the world to never make a deal with America again. What other deal in modern history has achieved cooperation between the US, Iran, China, Russia, and Europe? The answer is none–the Iran Deal was a good deal, and, interestingly, even Israel (which hawkishly opposed the deal’s signing) has warned Trump not to rip it up. Furthermore, Iran is a rather close ally of Russia in the Middle East, particularly as regards Syria. If Trump is so pro-Putin, it makes no sense that he is threatening Iran, especially since he apparently plans to follow Russia’s lead in Syria and allow Bashar “The Butcher” Assad to keep power.
- Now Trump seems to be committed to escalating trade war and/or real war with China. One way for Trump to truly crash and burn the US economy and America’s international respect is to stupidly spiral micro-aggressions into real aggression and bluff his way into actual conflict with China. Threatening to stop recognizing the one-China policy regarding Taiwan could very well derail all Chinese-American diplomacy as China views the one-China policy as the cornerstone of Chinese relations. Reminder: we have a trade imbalance with China in their favor, which means a trade war could easily hurt us more. Also, China owns a lot of our debt. Does Trump want to provoke China into selling that debt? Meanwhile, the TPP deal that Trump opposes was a big middle finger at China’s future economic hopes in Asia because it was designed to align most of China’s Asian neighbors with the US at the rather explicit expense of China. Trump’s foreign policy instead seems to be to bewilder all those countries in terms of seeing how erratic and untrustworthy the American government can become.
Putin has hit the jackpot with Trump’s election. A bumblingly stupid Donald Trump presidency that is willing to give up any and all American ideals and turn its shoulder to US friends who have been allies and blood-brothers for almost a century is a dream come true. The dismantling of NATO solidarity is literally the greatest present an American president could give to a Russian government looking to expand its influence over Eastern Europe once again. Trump being the US president is better for Russia’s foreign policy than Putin being the Russian president.
Picture courtesy of Remy Steinegger.