Will Putin still respect me in the morning?


PEOTUS (but certainly not poetus) continues to make nice with the strong man in the Kremlin:

The president-elect took to Twitter on Saturday to discuss the potential U.S.-Russia relationship under his administration, a day after U.S. spy chiefs briefed him on the Russian measures they said were directed by President Vladimir Putin.

“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said in a series of three tweets. “Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think it is bad! We have enough problems around the world without yet another one.”

“When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now,” Trump assured his 19 million Twitter followers.

A few comments:

1.It’s important to have good relations with other countries, but as the former chess champ and Russian dissident reminds us:


2. It’s true that Putin has zero respect for the United States under Obama. That’s because the Democrats never really worked out whether they wanted to reset or to reassert, and consequently anything they have done vis-a-vis Russia and her allies was pretty weak and ineffectual. Putin – and “strongmen” generally – don’t respect weakness and vacillation and politicians speaking loudly but carrying tiny stick.

3. But it’s also true that Putin won’t have much respect for the United States, which rolls over for him to get its belly scratched. As far as I can understand Trump’s attitude towards Russia, for there is no real policy at the moment, it’s to leave Putin alone and give him free hand in his neighbourhood – or, essentially, to give him pretty much all he wants without getting anything back in return. Never mind that Putin’s neighbourhood contains some staunch American allies, or that the American and the Russian interests more often than are inconsistent and incompatible. Trump’s recipe for gaining Russia’s respect sounds to me pretty similar to Obama’s approach to Iran. And hasn’t that worked out fabulously.

4. I don’t know to what extent Trump believes his own PR about being if not the smartest then at least the street-smartest person in the room, but he’s got nothing on Putin, who is perhaps the greatest survivor of the Russian history after Stalin. One could be realistic, pragmatic or even Machiavellian in one’s dealings with Vlad’s Russia, but one should not have any illusions about the nature of his regime or his interests and intentions. Throughout history, America has found itself making temporary allies and friends with some real sons-of-bitches because they were our SOBs and thus a lesser evil. Let’s not kid ourselves that the new authoritarian and neo-imperial Russia is our pal. Putin is a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s not and never will be “our” son-of-a-bitch. Pray that Trump won’t become his bitch instead.