Thanks to Donald Trump, our relationship with Russia is going off the rails. Think about what’s happened in just the past year.
First, Russia interfered with our election. Obama retaliated in a measured way by kicking out a few diplomats and seizing a couple of Russian compounds that had been used as bases for spying. Under normal circumstances, Russia probably would have re-retaliated in some measured way, and that would have been it. Our relationship would have been ice cold, but that’s all.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump became president, and he obviously had every intention of cozying up to Vladimir Putin. Because of this, his own party took matters out of his hands and passed a new round of sanctions against Russia—sanctions that have severely angered our European allies. This would never have happened under any other president. As a result, Putin decided to retaliate massively by kicking out hundreds of US diplomats from Moscow. Now, even fairly moderate folks are so pissed off they’re chanting USA! and pushing for yet more retaliation on our side. Maybe we should provide lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine? And if we do that, what does Putin do next?
As long as Putin is in charge of Russia, I don’t think good relations were ever in the cards. But things don’t need to spiral out of control either. With anyone else in the White House, they wouldn’t have. With Trump, we have three brand new risks we never had before. We have the risk that Trump himself will do something stupid. We have the risk that Congress will do something stupid out of fear that Trump will do something stupid. Finally, there’s the risk that Putin will do something stupid because he knows that Trump is a buffoon who’s unlikely to stop him.
This is no way to run a country. Or a planet. Everyone needs to settle down over Russia. We don’t need another Cold War.