Donald Trump’s America: The Overture Is Over

Today it is already clear that a strong America is poised to come back, despite President Trump’s focus on addressing issues in and for America. A strong America, according to Trump, is a country that has recovered the power and influence it had squandered in an effort to gain world leadership.

Since the early 1990s, when the USSR collapsed and the falloff was still in the air, the United States has maniacally tried to impose its values on all and sundry. Yet these values never were, nor could be, universal, with its attempts eventually leading to the weakening of its former might and grandeur. I believe Mr. Trump’s approach to the key pillars of democracy will be revised. This is why the freedom of expression and freedom of the press confirmed by the Bill of Rights are already being adjusted. This is indeed not a frontal attack on these and other liberties. However, the official style will certainly change. This is a something we are already seeing from the terse communications conveyed by the authorities. This looks like a logical response from the Trump inner circle. After all they are faced with a situation where political squabbles make the top headlines and politics increasingly looks more like an Eastern bazaar. The long-awaited launch of a real policy-making process is repeatedly delayed. Instead the West is hyperactive in trying to accuse Russia of planning to split NATO, weaken the democratic institutions and strengthen the hand of extremist pro-Moscow candidates in the upcoming elections in key European countries. The Keeping of Russia out of European Elections Act, submitted to the House of Representatives by Republican congressman Peter Roskam and Democratic congressman David Cicilline contains a long list of grievances against alleged Russian interference in European affairs in recent years. The same goes for the March 9 hearings in the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, devoted to Russia’s supposed attempts to “weaken democratic institutions and divide NATO.” Surely all this put together confirms Washington’s tough stance on Russia.

Many members of the current administration are sick and tired of the post-truth/post-politics factor and the ongoing [anti-Trump] hybrid warfare. Being a realist, Donald Trump believes that the technocrats he has brought into high places can be of far greater benefit to his country than the irreplaceable members of the US political establishment, both liberals and neoconservatives, who have ruled the country since the early 1990s.

Donald Trump offers his own approach from the position of economic strength instead of Washington-sponsored global rivalry that marked the last few decades of world history. The same approach is likely to be applied to policies towards the world as a whole and each country in particular. Consequently, the US military and political power will not decline, US military spending will not be reduced, and political tensions throughout the world will not subside.

Therefore, the expected reversal of the US foreign policy course is not on the cards. The United States will not withdraw into self-isolation or leave Europe to its own devices. Neither will it walk out of the Pacific Region or reduce its military presence in the world.

It is not by accident, that the latest statements made by Vice President Michael Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis struck a familiar chord signaling that the US foreign policy on Europe, NATO, and, of course, the Ukraine crisis will stay the same.. Thus, the decisions approved by the two latest NATO summits (Wales and Warsaw), specifically on deploying NATO military infrastructure in Poland and the Baltic countries, will be implemented as planned. The support for the Obama-solicited creation of NATO’s own antimissile system, as well as Washington’s stance on Ukraine and by extension on Georgia and Moldova (all three having territorial problems, which makes them focus countries for the United States. – N.G.) will also remain unchanged. Lastly, Trump’s choice of Jon Huntsman – former Utah governor, former US ambassador to China, and chairman of the Atlantic Council known for his sharp criticism of Moscow’s policies – as the next US ambassador to Russia does indeed speak for itself.

Not so long ago, President Trump accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of weakness when it came to relations with Russia: “For eight years Russia ‘ran over’ President Obama, got stronger and stronger, picked off Crimea and added missiles. Weak!” Trump wrote on his Twitter account after reading a Fox News broadcast.  Thus, Russia’s proactive policy continues to bump into a US reaction and it would be odd if it were otherwise.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration does not regard Russia as a threat to US national security. This is perhaps the main thing distinguishing it from the Obama administration that put the Russian Federation in the same category as ISIS and Ebola. This particular approach to Russia seems logical and is explained by the following factors.

Firstly, given that international Islamic terrorism is first and Iran second on the presidential list of national security threats, Washington cannot overlook Russia’s central role in the Middle East.

Secondly, for all the problems in relations between Russia and Iran and Russia and Turkey, we cannot but note generally a positive attitude to the Russian Federation on the part of both Tehran and Ankara, in contrast to their rapidly deteriorating relations with the United States.

Thirdly, notwithstanding Trump’s assurances that he would extend economic sanctions against Iran in response to its recent ballistic missile test and thereby give support to Israel, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to travel to Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, because for all the existing differences over Syria, Israel cannot disregard the fact that Russia is the central player in the Syrian settlement. Their talks likely focused on Iran’s putative intention to establish a permanent military presence in Syria. Netanyahu also tried to sound out to what extent Russia was able to influence Tehran’s position on Syria, which is a number one issue for Israel. Besides, Washington is well aware that apart from fighting ISIS in the Middle East, Washington will have to arbitrate between the Palestinians and Israel, an excruciating task in itself.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (according to March 10 statement by State Department Spokesman Mark Toner) will preside over a multilateral meeting with foreign ministers of the anti-ISIS coalition member-countries scheduled for March 22-23 in Washington. Russia will not be represented.

Thus, Washington will always welcome a new look stronger America.. As for Donald Trump himself, he is likely to follow an idea from Graham Greene’s The Third Man. One of its main characters argues that authoritarian rule is superior to democracy. The thirty years of the House of Borgia in Italy, he says, were filled with warfare, manslaughter and bloodshed, but they brought forth Michelangelo and Leonardo and ushered in the Renaissance period. Switzerland was a land of fraternal love, democracy and peace for five hundred years, but what did the Swiss invent during all that time? The cuckoo clock!

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.