Trump's perception of Russia and Central Asia
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Russia may not be a super power officially but it remains among most important world powers thanks to its President Vladimir Putin, the ‘Person of the Year in 2007’ of Times magazine, among the world’s most powerful men for years now. In fact Putin has dominated the political scene both at home and abroad since 2000 when he crushed the Chechen freedom fighting movement and now for more than one-and-a-half decade. Hence it may be worthwhile to examine and analyze as to how and why Putin has earned this ranking and emerged as a powerful leader from the global perspective.
Most Americans for sure believe Russia has not given up its ideological agenda which M. Gorbachev helped Soviets shed and imbibe so-called democratic vaeus being exported by USA and other capitalist nations.
As official White House was battling to stop master of aggressive rhetoric Donald Trump’s arrival as its custodian, President Putin has managed to showcase his leadership quality, often critical, in the media in the USA. Upon the unexpected and rather shocking victory of Doland Trump in the US presidential election held in December 2016. In this context there have been ongoing allegations of Russia’s involvement in hacking in the election campaign by the Kremlin meaning thereby on the order of the Russian President Putin, supporting Doland Trump and against the “official” candidate Hillary Clinton. This has been emphatically denied not only by the Russian Government. Even as there is an ongoing debate and controversy, the US President-elect, Donald Trump, has shrugged off allegations that Russia meddled in the election. Thus even as both Putin and Trump have denied, both seem to have benefited.
Throughout the campaign and the initial days of his presidency, Trump has continued to express admiration for President Putin and his desire for warmer relations with Moscow. Though he seemed to backtrack at a press conference in Washington and a weekend rally in Florida, and though Vice President Mike Pence offered boilerplate reassurances at a conference in Munich that Washington intends to hold Russia “accountable” for provocations aimed at undermining NATO and the European Union, Mr. Trump himself has clung to his view that closer cooperation with Russia is needed to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism. “If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me,” he said, “that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Hence having won the election, as per reports on January 29, 2017, Donald Trump had a one-hour telephonic talk with his Russian counterpart Putin within a few days after his taking over the presidency; and this hit the media news for right reasons: USA is willing to walk a mile to mend ways with Russia. Even as officially this talk was a part of protocol, Trump, who had pledged to mend ties with Moscow in his election campaign, has reiterated this after taking over the presidency of America. Thus criticism survives that Trump may be indirectly obliged to Putin for his success in the supposedly ‘controversial’ election.
Trump never criticized Russia or its president openly or rudely as he does with Muslims or even China, thereby leaving a playfield for diplomatic maneuvers . Who then says trump does not know niceties of high level diplomacy?
Putin’s shrewd diplomacy is evident from the fact that, as reported by the Russian press on December 30, 2016, after Trump got elected he opted out of a tit-for-tat retaliation against the United States which under Obama’s administration in November 2016 had kicked out 35 Russian officials over allegations of hacking aimed at interfering in the US election, espionage, and harassment of US diplomats in Russia. At any rate this has further helped Trump to hold on to his contention in favour of Putin and improve relations with Russia.
Putin’s leadership at domestic and regional levels has assumed significance. On December 26, 2016 Putin met with the leaders of several former Soviet republics in St. Petersburg, a day after the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Trump has expressed his admiration for the Russian leadership’s quality and strength to deal with problems including fight against Islamic terrorism, which will also be his own policy priority. Moreover there is media speculation whether with improved relations with Putin, Trump will soften Western policy of economic sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine. In fact it is important to note that Trump also did not support the media allegation against Putin as a ‘killer’ that was reported by Times Global on February 6, 2017. Russia has demanded apology from the American mediaperson. Looking back, in 2016 along with Putin’s rising power certain events proved positive for Russia. For instance, the Brexit vote exposed the deep rifts in the European Union that have benefited Russia as some of the EU members are critical of Putin. It may be argued that Putin’s regime has taken careful aim at the soft underbelly of Western democratic institutions. Hence Donald Trump’s victory might pave the way for a break from the traditional Washington policy towards Moscow that Putin has been looking for.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stated prior to that meeting that Putin believed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a mistake and disaster. While the disintegration cannot now be reversed, Putin believes in a “new integration in the space of the former Soviet Union”. The Presidents of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrghyzstan were in St. Petersburg for the meetings, which included informal summits of the Eurasian Economic Union, that has become a reality in 2015, and Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Hence with that objective at that summit Putin expressed his hope that the creation of a favourable business environment was needed to achieve full-fledged development of their economies. He opined that since forming a common market with the other Eurasian Economic Union countries about two years ago, trade between them has already increased significantly. This has been possible since non-tariff trade barriers have been slashed by 30 per cent and a single market for drug and medical products has been created. Thus by 2025 the EEU aimed at the formation of a common financial market and common markets for gas, oil, and petroleum products, with harmonized rules of trade. By this Putin’s objective and vision may partly be achieved. In fact ever since Putin came to power in 1999, his mission has been to make Russia great again and restore its due place in contemporary world history.
Thirdly, it is a matter of great global significance that Putin has been able to bring about a ceasefire deal in the Syrian conflict. On December 28, 2016 the Syria ceasefire deal was signed and Russia and Turkey were ‘Guarantors’ for the same. Putin, having signed the ceasefire agreement with Turkey, stated that the Russian military would scale down its presence in Syria, but he didn’t say how many troops and weapons would be withdrawn. More importantly, Putin has asserted that Russia will continue “fighting international terrorism in Syria” and supporting the Assad Government. While the West had been critical of Russia’s aggressive acts in Syria during the last couple of years, there has been a drastic change with the signing of the peace treaty in Astana in January 2017. It is opined by some analysts including Vasily Maximov that Moscow’s intervention under the leadership of Putin in Syria has an important dimension and that Russia has succeeded in trying to boost its position in the Middle East and demonstrate its global stature while attaining leverage in negotiations with the West.
Fourthly, Putin has succeeded in increasing convergence between Russia and China on many global issues during the past few years. It is significant that in December 2016 Putin displayed renewed interest in the long-delayed China-Russia highway across the Amur River by extending technical and financial assistance to it; it is to be completed by 2019 and will enhance trade relations. China is thirsty for energy and raw materials from Russia to fuel its economic growth. In fact he is aware that what is binding them together has been their shared interest in balancing the USA on global issues. It needs to be stated that another major factor drawing them together is a mutual dependence because even as Russia, though superior to China in nuclear weapons, is no match as far as the Chinese conventional military weaponry is concerned. Russia’s Look-East policy subsequent to the conflict with Ukraine on the Crimean issue in 2014, which worsened Russia’s political and economic relations with Europe and the USA, was welcomed by Beijing and that was “an axis of convenience” as rightly stated by Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Centre highlighting Russia-China relations.
Fifthly, Russia is also in recent years growing closer to Pakistan and this is a matter of anxiety, especially at a time that India is trying to isolate Pakistan in this region. China is already a strong supporter of Pakistan and with the two major powers involving themselves with Pakistan, it is certainly not good news as far as India is concerned. Further, Russia held its first ever joint military exercise with Pakistan days after the Uri terror strike (September 2016) in the Indian administered State of Jammu and Kashmir and at the BRICS Goa Summit, India felt let down by Russia as Moscow did not support Delhi’s stand by publicly naming the Pakistan-based terror outfits, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, as opined by Sachin Parashar. It needs to be noted that one cannot deny that both Russia and Pakistan are opening a new era of strategic and political alliance. President Putin’s proposed visit to Pakistan in May of this year will witness the inauguration of the US $ 2 billion LNG North-South Pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, as reported in the International News by Noor Aftab. This is possibly intended by Putin who wants to enhance Russia’s presence and influence in South Asia.
Lastly, on the domestic front Putin enjoys support and popularity by over 80 per cent of the population. Even as there are some Opposition parties and political leaders, including Alexei Navalny who proposes to contest in the presidential election against Putin, he has made sure that no political Opposition exists to challenge his authoritarian rule. It is worth noting that Russia’s annexation of Crimea has boosted Putin’s popularity at home even as there is strong opposition in the West. Russians constitute a substantial portion of the population in Crimea which has helped in the referendum held for the annexation. Russia claims that all legal processes were in place for that purpose.
In his annual state-of-the-nation address on December 1, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the country is unified like never before and is fully capable of achieving its strategic economic and geopolitical goals. Speaking at the Defence Ministry on December 22, 2016 Putin asserted that Russia’s military is now stronger than any possible attacker but must be prepared to adjust plans to neutralise the potential threats to the country.
No single foreign policy challenge is more contentious, or crucial, than getting Russia right. Under President Donald Trump, Republicans and Democrats have embraced diametrically opposing views on how to handle President Vladimir Putin. Both seem to have got it wrong.
Resisting Russian intimidation should be more than a campaign slogan. While almost no one wants a return to the Cold War, a world in which Russian hegemony is unrestrained increases the chance of global conflict.
The main goal of Russia’s Middle Eastern policy is to assist regional countries in reaching sustainable development, Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said addressing the Sixth Conference of the Valdai Discussion Forum’s Middle East Dialogue on Feb. 27. According to her, Russia does not seek to dominate the region. "I would like to point out that Russia does not seek to dominate the Middle East as our main goal is to lead the region to a path towards sustainable development by ensuring mutual consent among parties to internal conflicts," the Russian senator said. She added that the United Nations should play the leading role in settling conflicts in the Middle East. At the same time, Matviyenko said that Russia had always been and would always be combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. "We believe that in order to eliminate terrorism, a broad anti-terrorist front needs to be set up. We call upon the world community to put political controversies aside and turn to establishing a broad inter-parliamentary and inter-state cooperation in the war against international terrorism," she said. Matviyenko pointed to the important role of inter-parliamentary cooperation in solving conflicts. "Members of the Federation Council use every opportunity and their international contacts to help restore peace in the region. We will not omit the Middle East issues during the 137th session of the Inter-parliamentary Union scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg in October," the Federation Council Speaker said. She added that the Russian senators had come up with an initiative to set up video conferences in order to facilitate inter-parliamentary cooperation between Russia, European states, Syria, Turkey, Iran and other countries. "The first video conference between Moscow, Damascus and Astana was held on February 16. The discussion was broadcast live. We hope to carry on with this initiative and engage other countries, thus providing the world community with yet another chance to achieve fact-based information," Matvyenko concluded.
While new U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his intentions to pull back from the world, his policy toward Central Asia remains largely unknown. What policy will he pursue in the region where the U.S.' influence is declining but China and Russia are gaining clout? What is the likelihood that the U.S.-Russia relations will improve, given a Russia-loving Trump but anti-Russia sentiments in the U.S.? Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen interviewed Paul Stronski, a senior fellow of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Russia and Eurasia Program, on these issues.
Central Asia is not a key priority region for the U.S. foreign policy. The key regions that the U.S. is most interested in are North America, Europe and the East Asia-Pacific region, because that is where our biggest bilateral trade partners and alliances are.
There is not a lot of trade between the U.S. and Central Asian countries. The region doesn't border any U.S. allies. The U.S. policy toward Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union has never really been about Central Asia itself. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were a lot of things such as nuclear, chemical weapons material – all these types of things.
One of the priorities was to safeguard the materials and make sure they didn't get into the terrorists' hands. That was why the region was of interest to the U.S. Central Asia was important to the U.S. because of the Afghan War. But after 2014 when NATO and the U.S. started to withdraw, once again, the region lost its importance.
Central Asia has never decided that it really wants a close relationship with the U.S. either. While the U.S. is focused on the instability in the Middle East, there is a clear possibility that the instability could spread to Afghanistan. The U.S. shouldn't just ignore Central Asia, but right now, it is not a key area of concern.
The U.S., under former secretary of state Hillary Clinton of the Obama administration, proposed the New Silk Road initiative. It was a great idea, but the U.S. again, because the region is not a top priority, didn't put the resources in.
China is putting the resources in through the "One Belt, One Road," which passes through Central Asia. The Chinese approach is not all that different from the U.S. approach. It is helping to build regional integration which I think is stabilizing the region because there are a lot of internal problems in the region. If one of the goals was to defend the sovereignty of these countries and give them outlets to the outside world, what China does makes a lot of sense. It is different from the U.S. approach, but the Chinese approach might have more success.
The U.S., which is disengaged from the region, does hope that China will continue to push the security umbrella. I don't think the U.S. will play a major security role there in the future unless there is a ramp-up again in Afghanistan. U.S. officials might not say it publicly, but privately, they look to China and Russia to make the region stable in the long term.
We have no real insight as to what policymakers in the Trump administration think about Central Asia. Central Asia was not a topic in the U.S. election. I don't see priority for Central Asia for this administration.
President Trump is very interested in trying to figure out a way to improve relations with Russia. There is a lot of talk about having a grand bargain with Russia. Given the limited U.S. interests, if the U.S. were to have some grand bargain with Russia, Central Asia would fall into the Russian orbit as a place that Trump is not going to focus on. There is counter-terrorism cooperation between Central Asian states and the U.S. Some of the cooperation will remain, but it will be on a limited basis, not any big initiatives.
The Obama administration tried to have a reset with Russia, and ended up badly. The efforts of the George W. Bush administration ended up badly, too. There are fundamental differences in how the U.S. and Russia view the world. It is very easy to come to the agreement that we collaborate on fighting the Islamic State and other emerging threats. But putting these pledges into real actionable policies is quite difficult.
There is a lot of pushback among the Democratic Party in the U.S. against a better relationship with Russia. The controversy in the U.S. right now over what sort of influence the Russian government had in the U.S. political system during the campaign complicates Trump's ability to implement his Russia policy. But Trump is, sometimes, unrelenting and he just decides he wants to do it. My inclination is that it might not be a successful one. Like the Obama administration and the Bush administration, the Trump administration may find the U.S.-Russia relations end up far worse than when they began.
Trump sees China as a threat economically. His obstacle is that the Sino-Russian relations are fairly strong and beneficial to both sides. It is particularly beneficial for the Russians because the Russians do seem to want to push back at the U.S. and be a global power. It is difficult for them to do that after the collapse of the Soviet Union and they have more clout when they partner with China.
The U.S.-China relationship is quite complex. Their economic dependency and linkages are strong. There are frictions in the relationship, but both sides recognize its importance and it needs to be carefully managed. It is difficult to manage the triangular relations among China, the U.S. and Russia all together and use Russia against China or vice versa.
Depending on what the investigations in the U.S. about relations between the Trump campaign and Russia find out, it could have very significant impacts on the Trump presidency and Trump's ability to engage with Russia. There is harsh anti-America rhetoric in Russia. After this campaign, among a certain sector of the American population, there is harsh anti-Russia sentiment in the U.S. Overcoming that will be challenging.
We have very close proximity in the Middle East on Russia–NATO frontier, and certainly there's potential for miscalculation to happen. A lot of misunderstandings and problems in U.S.–Russia relations have happened when there were leadership changes in Eastern Europe and former Soviet states, and I see potentials for flashpoints. But it is important for the two sides to talk and to figure out how to anticipate these flashpoints.
Increased competition on the post-Soviet space – especially between Uzbekistan and its close neighbors - might have implications for Russia’s foreign policy in Central Asia.
On Feb. 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin started his trip to Central Asia. He is expected to pay a visit to Kazakhstan to discuss the Syrian civil war as well as the current state of Russian-Kazakh relations. Ever since Astana became a mediator in the Syrian peace talks, Kazakhstan has loomed as a more important priority for Russia.
Afterwards, Putin will visit Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to discuss military cooperation and Eurasian integration projects, but he will skip Uzbekistan, one of the key regional stakeholders in Central Asia. The reason is that Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the new Uzbek president, will come to Moscow in the near future.
The new Uzbek leadership is hoping to establish closer cooperation between Moscow and Tashkent. Personal chemistry between Putin and Mirziyoyev will determine the development of the bilateral relations between the two countries. This could be important for both Russia and Uzbekistan in terms of maintaining long-term security cooperation.
Many experts argue that Tashkent under Mirziyoyev will step up its collaboration with Moscow. For example, Uzbek political expert Rafael Sattarov points to the new Uzbek government’s numerous connections with Russia.
“New Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov has close ties with circles in Russia both politically and economically,” Sattarov told Russia Direct. “Likewise, the Kremlin has some channels of unofficial influence through Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who is a relative of Mirziyoyev.”
According to January 2015 Forbes website data, Usmanov is Russia's richest man, with a fortune estimated at $14.7 billion, making him also the world's 58th richest person. However, Uzbekistan’s close ties with Russia don’t necessary mean that it will be pro-Russian. In contrast, Tashkent will try to diversify its foreign policy to establish good working relations with other global stakeholders, including the United Sates, the European Union and China, according to experts.
The new Uzbek president will follow the same neutrality policy pursued by his predecessor Islam Karimov. As a result, Mirziyoyev’s tactics and strategy could lead to non-alignment with any military and political blocs. The country is expected to pursue foreign policy independence.
However, it remains to be seen if Uzbekistan will step up its cooperation with the United States and, specifically, the administration of President Donald Trump. A lot depends on Washington’s priorities in Central Asia.
“Any pro-Russian politician might easily turn into pro-Chinese or pro-American if Uzbekistan needs international loans or security guarantees,” Sattarov highlighted.
However, in this case, Tashkent will have to put things in order to create the necessary political and economic environment within then country. Specifically, Mirziyoyev will have to be more decisive in conducting liberal reforms, which are uncommon for Uzbekistan, a country with a paternalistic mentality and a rigid authoritarian vertical of power. He has already made several important political moves shortly after he came to power.
One of his first decisions was the creation of the government’s online reception office to receive complaints from ordinary people on Uzbek officials and day-to-day problems. Moreover, he announced that 2017 would be the Year of Dialogue between the people and the authorities. At the same time, he promised to alleviate the tax burden on business and encourage entrepreneurial activity in the country.
However, these measures don’t seem to address one of the key problems hampering business activity in Uzbekistan — the absence of a currency conversion system. It means that there are two foreign currency rates in the country — the official rate and the unofficial black market rate that is twice as much as the rate established by the authorities. Moreover, there is the imposed currency control regime in the country. Naturally, all these problems affect the investment climate in Uzbekistan and, thus, its economy. That’s why currency reform is urgently required.
However, according to pundits, the reforms undertaken by Mirziyoyev don’t intend to liberalize the system; rather, they seek to maintain the domestic and foreign policy status quo.
The authoritarian nature of Uzbekistan regime might be another reason why establishing close ties with Western partners could be difficult. The new Uzbek leader has been persistently lobbying his interests and appointing those loyal to him to key positions in the government. But according to experts, this is natural for a country with paternalistic traditions.
“In Uzbekistan, rival political groups have always consolidated around the country’s Politburo. In such an environment, Mirziyoyev has to decrease the influence of competitors and opponents, who might gain political heft through propaganda and financial resources,” said Sattarov, implying that political rivalry could be a headache for an authoritarian leader.
By the same token, Mirziyoyev has been trying to minimize the influence of Uzbekistan’s law enforcement agencies, as indicated by the conflict of the president and the head of the country’s National Security Service, Rustam Inoyatov.
Finally, tensions with close neighbors — other former Soviet republics such as Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — might also produce a negative effect on Uzbekistan, a country that is trying to diversify its foreign policy and establish friendly relations with other countries.
On the one hand, the Uzbek leaders failed to establish personal chemistry with their counterparts from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (after the power transition they at least normalized relations). On the other hand, their differences result from the conflict of interests.
In the case of Dushanbe, Uzbekistan has been against the construction of a Tajik hydroelectric power station on the Amu Darya river, which connects both countries. If implemented, this project would affect the environment and Uzbek farmland located down the river, according to Uzbek authorities. However, Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan tensions are rather political in their nature and related to territorial disputes. After the 2010 inter-ethic clashes between Uzbek and Kirgiz people in Kyrgyzstan, the relations between countries were stuck in a downward spiral.
The good sign is that Uzbekistan is trying to maintain good relations and strategic cooperation with other neighbors — Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. However, experts don’t rule out the possibility of a new rivalry with the latter.
For example, Danyar Kosnazarov, the founder of a Kazakh think tank, argues that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan might find themselves entwined in a rivalry despite Tashkent’s pragmatism. It is a matter of competition between the authoritarian leaders of these countries.
“The might compete for establishing their leadership in the Central Asian region, driven by political, economic and geopolitical calculations,” Kosnazarov said.
Few Republicans have publicly objected to Mr. Trump’s junking of traditional Republican orthodoxy – countering Russian aggression, supporting NATO, and backing democratic institutions abroad. Among Republicans, Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have been lonely voices in warning that ignoring Russia’s provocations risks betraying longstanding allies, encouraging even more audacious Russian aggression, and endangering U.S. security.
Given Mr. Trump’s odd bromance with Russian’s autocratic ruler, many analysts in Washington and Moscow expect him to try to repeal or reduce the sanctions imposed after Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 -- a prerequisite, the Kremlin has made clear, for warmer ties.
Diplomatic alarm about Mr. Trump’s intentions was recently stoked by news that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and long-time problem fixer, presented a secret back-channel proposal to lift sanctions on Russia to Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn a week before Mr. Trump fired him as his national security adviser.
After Flynn’s dismissal, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for the creation of a bipartisan, independent commission to “expose the full extent of Russia’s influence on the election and this administration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump officials not to try to cover up improper contacts with Russian intelligence. Flanked by fellow Democratic senators Dianne Feinsteinand Mark Warner, Sen. Schumer insisted that records of contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign, transition, and administration officials be kept. “I’ve been in Congress for a long time, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Sen. Schumer fumed with outrage.
But Democrats have attacked Mr. Trump’s Russia policy mainly as a partisan weapon. Their criticism is aimed not at reversing his dangerous approach towards Russia, but undermining his political clout and legitimacy. Seeing Russia policy primarily through the lens of domestic politics, in turn, serves to trivialize it and weakens calls for what should be a serious debate about what kind of Russia policy best serves American interests.
For his part, Mr. Putin has has lost little time capitalizing on America’s partisan divide. Sensing Trump’s reluctance to criticize, much less counter his meddling in Europe’s elections and other provocations in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Middle East and Asia,and the Democrats’ use of that reluctance for partisan gain, Mr. Putin has grown ever bolder.
Trump has done nothing about the presence of a Russian spy ship loitering off the East Coast, Russian fighter jets buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea, or a ballistic-missile test that many military experts have interpreted as a violation of arms accords. He has been silent on Russian hacking and other attempts to elect pro-Russian candidates in elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany who, like Mr. Trump, question the value of NATO and continued membership in the European Union–pillars and symbols of America’s leadership of the west.
Though Russia has denied such intervention, its cyberhacking, financing of pro-Russian candidates, and spread of disinformation appear to be focused most heavily for now on defeating German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential champion of European unity and maintaining sanctions on Russia over Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea.
While there is little evidence that Russian meddling tipped America’s 2016 presidential election, Mr. Trump’s silence and the Democrats’ political use of Russia’s provocations serve Moscow’s interest. Containing Russia requires American strategic consensus. Absent that, Mr. Putin will continue playing what is objectively a weak economic and military hand to maximum effect.
A truly bipartisan policy would enable Congress, among other things, to end sequestration so that the U.S. military can have sufficient resources to contain Russia. Resisting Russian intimidation should be more than a campaign slogan. While almost no one wants a return to the Cold War, a world in which Russian hegemony is unrestrained increases the chance of global conflict.
Partisanship in America may be growing. But unless Republicans and Democrats, liberals, moderates and conservatives unite to support the nation’s core interests and values, Putin will continue to benefit.