Of course, the Russians want Trump for four more years. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. Bernie Sanders is a hedge bet. Bloomberg might be right that Sanders enhances Trump’s chances, but that gives a lot of credit to America’s socialism IQ. Sanders is the Democratic front runner and Russia would love a Sanders presidency. Bernie with his foreign policy focus on diplomacy and foreign aid is manna from heaven to a nation that prioritizes using its military to aggrandize power. Putin is licking his lips. China is prostrately dealing with Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) and America is returning to isolationism or a European strategy of diplomacy and foreign aid. Putin sees the chance to squander 2 million American casualties since WWI. He just needs one of them to win in 2020.
The minute the Soviets lost the Cold War, Russia began planning its comeback. A big loser in the Cold War with a relatively puny economy created challenges for a return — until Donald Trump’s poorly conceived America First policy. China’s re-engaging with Russia, so are many Middle Eastern nations. Even some of America’s transatlantic alliance partners are wondering if Russia, the nation that terrified them for 44 years, is more reliable than the United States. China is stepping into the America First void, too. Even Japan, a stalwart ally of the US is, engaging with China and India is hedging its bet.
Trump is Putin’s dream come true (and Xi, too). So is Sanders. Imagine the havoc of introducing Democratic Socialism to a country that rose from colony to global power on the strength of capitalism. The UK’s shift to democratic socialism landed it on IMF life support. Trump or Sanders gives Russia a chance to right previous failed attempts to stick it to the West. During WWI, Russia not only abandoned the Allied Powers, with the Treaty of Brest Litovsk it tried to stack the deck for Germany and other Central Powers. The United States helped kill this maneuver. To enter the war, America had to give up its preference for isolationism, but it got something valuable in return. Current Allied Powers had to agree to forego traditional spoils of war practices and offer self-determination to the people in the losing empires. America traded hardships and American lives so others could be free.
At the start of WWII, the Soviet Union, in the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, tried again to stick it to the West and stack the deck for Germany and other Axis Powers. German duplicity ended the pact and the Soviet Union joined the Allied Powers. In the treaties ending WWII, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was on a mission to end competition for global supremacy that instigated WWI, WWII and many wars before it. This meant no more empires. He wanted all people to be free to self-determine their fate. More than anything FDR wanted sovereign nations filled with free people united behind the United Nations Charter; a wish supported by subjugated people across the globe.
Soviet support for the UN was tepid at best and two years later it began violating the UN Charter and the Cold War began. For 44 years the United States led the First World alliance on a mission to make the world safe for freedom-loving democracies. This leadership was costly, particularly in terms of American casualties in the Korean War and War in Vietnam.
The Americans foiled Russia’s plot to stick it to the West in WWI. Germany foiled it in WWII. The First World foiled it in the Cold War. With Trump or Sanders, Putin sees another chance to stick it to the West and regain greatness on the world stage.
American policies cannot abandon its role as a global cop. American presidents in WWI, WWII and the Cold War sacrificed American lives to shift the world toward freedom. Now one president and one possible future president have priorities that create openings for the growth of unfree autocracies. The Russians are only too pleased to help either man squander the nearly 2 million American casualties sacrificed for freedom in the world, while China cheers them on. Let’s hope the build-up of militaries all over the world in response to Russia and China flouting their militaries to aggrandize power while naïve American policies abdicate global roles, isn’t a prelude to the instability that rocked the world in the first half of the 20th century.