Russia's precipitous decline after the collapse of the Berlin Wall is fodder for political wonks and foreign policy buffs, but even the most casual political spectator is well aware that Russia is a mere shell of its former self.
The Soviet Union once stretched as far west as Moldova, as far south as Tajikistan, as far north as the Baltic Sea, and as far east as the Pacific Ocean, and boasted a military rivaled only by the United States. The Iron Curtain extended well into Eastern Europe and imposed its will on sovereign nations that included Germany, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria just to name a few. Images of the hammer and sickle conjured emotions of terror and anxiety and still invoke feelings of uneasiness in countries that were previously under Soviet rule. The reality, however, is Russia is nothing of what it used to be, and certainly not as powerful as Russian President Vladimir Putin would have you believe.
Russia’s struggling economy has led to widespread poverty, and its aging military is more bark than bite. Make no mistake, Russia is very capable of defending itself and instigating havoc on the international stage - as evidenced by its annexation of Crimea - but Russia is in no position to wage a full-out war against a true world power. Perhaps that would explain Putin’s quasi-political relationships with Iran and North Korea.
Enter Donald Trump
President Trump’s ambiguous policy on Russia is troubling to many Democrats and Republicans on the Hill. Political leaders from both parties, including war hero Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have chastised Trump’s inability to criticize Putin. During the campaign, Trump often praised Putin while disparaging Barack Obama, a sitting US president. In a recent interview with Bill O’Reilly, Trump went a step further and appeared to defend the killing of Russian journalists presumably ordered by the Putin administration. Trump vehemently denies any connection to Putin, but his actions, or lack thereof, suggest otherwise.
- Why did it take months for Trump to accept US intelligence reports that confirmed Russian interference in the presidential election?
- Why did
TrumpMichael Flynn contact the Russian ambassador on the day sanctions were imposed against Russia to alert the Kremlin that the sanctions would be eased after Trump took office? Keep in mind that Flynn was a civilian at the time.
- Why didn’t Putin retaliate against the sanctions as he had done numerous times in the past?
- Why did White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer deflect inquiries regarding the administration’s dove-like stance on Russia by highlighting a uranium deal that Hillary Clinton brokered?
- Why hasn’t Trump condemned Putin for his manipulation of the media and Russia’s continued tampering in elections throughout Europe?
- Why hasn’t Trump responded to the brazen, antagonistic actions of Russian fighter jets “buzzing” US ships and encroaching on US airspace?
- Why is a Russian spy ship patrolling the East Coast, literally miles from significant US military assets?
- Why is the state-controlled media in Russia echoing the same talking points as the Trump administration – verbatim – claiming the reporting on Russia and Trump are all “fake news?”
America needs answers, and unfortunately, the person who can provide those answers prefers to challenge a key constitutional right - the right to a free press - as opposed to setting a clear policy regarding Russian relations. Trump may think he is making America great again, but in the process, he may be making Russia greater.