Summit II: A Great Idea

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A week after the Monday, July 16 Helsinki meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the American left along with the mainstream media, are still hyperventilating.  Following the brief encounter between the world’ s two most powerful individuals, vociferous accusations of treason by Democrats are as ahistorical as they are hysterical.  While it is likely the two leaders discussed the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, during their private meeting, with all the issues extant between the United States and Russia, the fact that both nations have pro-active intelligence services was not among them.  Hopefully, Putin will accept President Trump’s invitation for a second, full summit meeting in Washington in September or October.

Washington and Moscow face a host of vital strategic issues.  The Kremlin probably is concerned over President Trump’s demands that NATO alliance members bear a greater share of the financial burden for defending Western Europe. Europe today faces two strategic threats: Russia and, from the Middle East cultural meltdown due to unbounded immigration from Islamic countries.  Trump’s dispatch of weapons to Ukraine and the continuing presence of U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters in Latvia are indicative of Trump’s commitment to supporting NATO against armed aggression. Russia notoriously takes advantage of perceived weakness. Any Russian move on Latvia, Estonia, or Lithuania—all former Soviet republics—could escalate into nuclear war.  Arms shipments to Kiev and US military forces in the Baltic demonstrate Washington’s commitment.

Russia is modernizing its nuclear forces.  The United States should do so as well. Modernization offers Washington and Moscow an opportunity to not only renew old strategic arms agreements but to sign a new treaty reducing the number of nuclear weapons from the current levels of 6,000 to 7,000 warheads to something like 4,000 each with specified and verifiable balances between various sizes and delivery modes.  The vast reduction in the “butcher’s bill” from the wars of 1914 through 1945 is due primarily to the potential for mutual nuclear seppuku among the major world powers. Trump and Putin should also discuss restricting the proliferation of nuclear weapons to regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran.

Cyber warfare can be as devastating as nuclear war.  A prime example of its effects is the political instability wreaked upon the American body politic over Moscow’s meddling in the Clinton and Trump 2016 presidential campaigns.  Trump and Putin and their principals need to come to grips with the issue of mutual cyber security. During the Cold War and into the present our intelligence services have found ways to keep the nuclear threat from becoming reality via miscalculation or misperception.  Moscow and Washington need to work together to address the strategic implications of cyber warfare.

The presence of US and Russian forces in Syria is linked to Moscow’s ongoing relationship with Damascus and Tehran.  There’s room for compromise at the strategic level mirroring accommodations made between American and Russian forces at the operational level inside Syria.  The challenge for diplomacy is enormous. Israel cannot and will not abide an Iranian buildup along its borders. Trump and Putin understand the threat Islamic terrorism posses. On a scale of magnitude what’s happening in Syria is at the 9-plus level while so-called collusion in 2016’s presidential campaign is a 1-minus.

The continuing presence of Russian forces in Ukraine also needs attention.  Perhaps the threat of establishing a US-NATO air base in Poland or even admitting Kiev into the alliance would get Putin’s attention.  Washington should leverage both possibilities.

Whether under Tsars, commissars of the new Vladimir Velikiy (Vladimir the Great) will always put Russian interests first.  It is refreshing that President Donald J. Trump, unlike his immediate predecessor, asserts American interest.  That’s why there’s potential for the two leaders to reach an accommodation.

At the present, the Democrats and their unrelenting commitment to thwarting the results of the 2016 presidential election is all that any KBG plan for destabilizing the American body politic could have ever foreseen.  In terms of “treason,” the last time Democrats bellowed “He’s not my president” was 1860. The result was America’s most costly conflict. That, my fellow Americans, is a far, far greater threat to our democratic republic than Vladimir Velikiy.

Self-Educated American Guest Contributor Dr. Earl H. Tilford is a military historian and Fellow for the Middle East & Terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.

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Used with the permission of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

The views and opinions expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City College.