The Cold War: Part Deux

As if 2016 has not been weird enough, now I am finding myself agreeing with Donald Trump’s assessment of Russia’s response to US protestations.

In 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) knew it had been hacked, and US intelligence agencies eventually pointed the finger towards Russia. Nothing was done. In fact, throughout Obama’s entire presidency he has minimised Russia’s bellicosity (Remember this snarky gem: “The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back.”)

Yet he chose this week, for no apparent reason, to expel Russian diplomats. The official reason is it was a response to the DNC hacking…from 2015. These actions would make more sense back then, not today, not less than a month from the end of Obama’s presidency.

Then what happens? Vladimir Putin comes off as the sane, rational and calm one by deciding not to retaliate. Sorry, I agree with Trump’s assessment here. I am going even one step further: brilliant!

“Putin has shown the world how hollow Western government’s beliefs are.”

Obama is coming off looking like a petulant child throwing a tantrum, while Putin looks like a statesman. Add this to the win column for Putin – he already has plenty over this administration.

There are many, many things I disagree with Putin on and I do not want to see his worldview winning out (although it has been). Yet the KGB guy knows his realpolitik and has taken not only Obama to task, but also undermined many international institutions in the process; showing the world how hollow Western government’s beliefs are.

Now we have Trump coming in to office next month, a man who does not hide his admiration of Putin’s particular form of statecraft. In one sense, this will be good because I do not see US-Russian relations substantially deteriorating under President Trump. In another sense, this will just be another nail in the coffin of liberal internationalism.

This entire episode does nothing but reinforce Putin’s stranglehold over Russia’s politics, both foreign and domestic.


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