As major players on the global stage, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump could counterbalance the forces of globalism which seek to destroy all sovereign nations…

russiaCan we trust Russia? Should we trust Russia? Should we trust Trump on Russia?

The buzz word of Barack Obama’s Presidential Election Campaign, oh so many eons ago, was “change.” What Americans want, we were told, was “change.” Now, after the sun has set on the Obama-Nation, we find ourselves moving forward with a new leader of a very different ilk at the helm. America, it seems, will certainly have “change”, though not perhaps in the manner which Mr. Obama and the Clintons envisaged. Will it be change for the better or for the worse? A trump of triumph or a trump of doom?

Much depends on how President Trump manages America’s relationship with the wider world, a world which has certainly changed seismically in recent years. What will be the relationship of Trump’s America with a European Union which seems to be in meltdown? What will be its relationship with post-Brexit Britain? And what of the colossus which is China? Or the colossal threat of Islamic terrorism? Or the even more colossal threat of globalism? And what about the rise of Russia, or what might even be called its resurrection under Vladimir Putin? 

With regard to the last of these crucial questions, there is no doubt that relations between Russia and the United States would have been strained to breaking point had Hillary Clinton been elected. Mr. Obama and the Clintons seem to have an irrational hatred of Russia. They hate Mr. Putin to such a degree that they were even happy to support neo-Nazis in the Ukraine, rather than explore sane alternatives to the crisis in the area. They hate Mr. Putin so much that they were happy to back the forces of Islamist extremism in Syria rather than find ways to join forces with Russia against it.

If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would rather have Nazis and jihadist terrorists as bedfellows than a relationship of friendship with Russia, it is of little surprise that one of Mr. Obama’s last acts in the White House was to attempt to raise tensions between the United States and Russia by expelling alleged Russian “spies”. His hope, no doubt, was that Mr. Putin would respond in kind by expelling US diplomats as “spies”, thereby presenting Donald Trump with a political crisis as he began his presidency. Thankfully, Mr. Putin refused to play the Cold War game and refrained from responding, as no doubt Mr. Obama had hoped, with an act of kneejerk reactionary retaliation. Incidentally, isn’t it ironic that it is the Democrats who are now the anti-Russian hawks seeking conflict with Russia, spurning all talk of peace and reconciliation, or what used to be called détente?

Happily, Mr. Obama is now largely irrelevant. What he thinks or feels about Russia is of little concern. But what of President Trump? Will he seek friendship with Russia and not enmity, or, to employ the hippy jargon of a previous generation, will he want to give peace a chance? Is there any possibility of Russia and the United States forging a fruitful alliance, transcending the stereotypes of the Cold War which Obama, Clinton, and Co. seem intent on rekindling? As major players on the global stage, Mr. Putin and President Trump could counterbalance the forces of globalism which seek to destroy all sovereign nations, large and small. The problem is that President Trump and Mr. Putin have both built their reputations as being no-nonsense strong men who will not be intimidated by opponents. This is dangerous. If the two men work together, forming and forging a friendship, much good could be done. If, on the other hand, they square off, one big man looking the other in the eye in the spirit of belligerent intransigence, we will all be in big trouble. Let’s hope that there is still hope for friendship between Russia and America, which is at least possible under President Trump whereas it would have been unthinkable under the hawkish Hillary. For that lingering hope, at least, and for that possibility, we can be grateful.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. This essay first appeared on Intellectual Takeout (January 2017). The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now. 

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