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Pursuing Realistic US Goals at the Helsinki Summit

July 12, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in
Helsinki on July 16 offers an important opportunity to repair the
badly damaged relationship between Russia and the United States. A
successful outcome would be beneficial to European nations as well,
since it could substantially reduce overall East-West tensions.
Success, however, depends on President Trump having realistic
expectations and not making demands that have no chance of being
fulfilled.

Unfortunately, sentiment in the United States in the lead up to
the summit is not encouraging. Trump’s partisan opponents, as well
as the usual flock of congenital hawks, are already pressuring him
not to show any inclination to compromise with Russia.
Indeed, some critics act as though his mere willingness to meet with Putin shows poor
judgment and an appeasement mentality. That attitude surfaced as well when President Trump held a
face-to-face meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

It is an unhealthy, unrealistic view of foreign affairs. A
willingness to meet and negotiate in good faith with foreign
adversaries is a crucial aspect of successful diplomacy, and
Washington has achieved important successes by doing so. Without
such policy flexibility, the United States would never have
concluded important arms control agreements with the Soviet Union
or normalized relations with the People’s Republic of China —
breakthroughs that benefited both U.S. interests and the welfare of
humanity.

The rising tensions between Washington and Moscow have reached
alarming levels that some experts believe amount to a second Cold
war. The summit can begin to ease those tensions and
resolve some of the underlying disputes
. Trump and his
advisers, though, need to focus on attainable objectives and not
waste their efforts on unattainable ones.

The summit meeting
between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki offers an
important opportunity to repair the badly damaged relationship
between Russia and the United States.

Demanding that Russia return Crimea to Ukraine is at the top of
the unattainable category. The Kremlin’s annexation was at least
partly a reaction to the clumsy and
provocative actions
that the United States and key European
Union powers took in 2014 to support demonstrators who unseated
Ukraine’s elected, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, before
the expiration of his term. Moscow was furious about that Western
power play, and Putin’s seizure of Crimea was the response. Issues
of national pride and security calculations were involved. The
West’s meddling in Ukraine was merely the latest encroachment in
Russia’s geopolitical neighborhood, and this one would not go
unchallenged. Russians were especially sensitive regarding the
Crimea issue, because the peninsula had been part of Russia from
1783 until …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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