• 05:09
  • 20.08.2017

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Trump shouldn't have allowed breakdown in relations with Russia

Trump shouldn't have allowed breakdown in relations with Russia

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For once a Donald Trump tweet gets it right: US-Russian relations are indeed at an “all-time low”, at least so far as the post-Soviet era is concerned.

One of the few positives that was promised by a Trump presidency – a warming of relations with Vladimir Putin and a lifting of the threat of mutually assured destruction of planet Earth – has now evaporated. The Russians casually insulted President Trump as “impotent” and humiliated in having to bow to wishes of the US Congress, albeit under protest. They have, additionally, used the most inflammatory language possible about the fresh sanctions that are being placed on the Kremlin – “all-out economic war” the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put it, adding that the move "ends hopes for improving our relations with the new US administration. The sanctions regime has been codified and will remain in effect for decades unless a miracle happens.”

The Russians are evidently not happy with President Trump’s performance, and his approval rating in Moscow seems to be sinking as fast as it is in the US. Blustering tweets about what great deals he can do are not what the Russians expected from the man they conceived of as their friend and strategic ally. To President Putin, Mr Trump is turning out to be little more useful than presidents Obama and George W Bush. They may even wonder whether they might have been better off with Hillary Clinton. At least they knew what to expect with her, and the surprises would have been on the upside.
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If it is true that the Russians helped to put Donald Trump in the White House, that they hacked US entities (as stated firmly by the FBI), and that Mr Trump has been less than open about the extent of the Russians’ interference with last year’s presidential election, then the dangers to the Trump presidency suddenly multiply when the men in the Kremlin decide he is worse than useless to furthering Russian interests. Mr Medvedev made some remarks implying that President Trump is edging closer to impeachment, or an “Article 25” coup by his cabinet, and it is perfectly possible, if not probable, that the Russian authorities have some “dirt” of their own on Donald Trump that could hustle him out of the White House more quickly than anyone yet realises. Thus the United States could well be in the bizarre position of the Kremlin both putting their favoured candidate in the White House, and then also removing him from his post.

The idea Mr Trump picked up from the commentators last year – that World War Three is much less likely under a Trump presidency than a Hillary Clinton one – no longer looks quite so smart. Because Mr Trump has been so careless about his dealings with the Russians, including those of his acolytes and family members, and because he has disconnected himself so badly from the Republican Party, there is very little he can do to save himself, help the Russians or indeed anything else.

President Trump resembles a sort of braggardly Lemuel Gulliver, trammelled by Lilliputian figures in Congress, plagued by the midges in the “mainstream media”, and very possibly also unable to manoeuvre himself out of his difficulties because of what damaging material the Russians have got on him.
US allies think Trump is less trustworthy than Putin, poll shows

Even so, the reason why Mr Trump finds himself in such a weak and chaotic state is entirely down to his own immature personality and lack of judgement. The Russians perceived that long ago; now, gradually, the enormity of what they have done may also be dawning on the Republicans and the American people. Ironically, both they and the Russians may have a common interest in ending the lunacy of the Trump presidency before it does any more damage. Could President Pence actually be any worse?

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