A Russian Alliance ?
The media and the political Establishment are worried about Trump’s long-stated interest in a better relationship with Russia. We would like to see an alliance, but there will be much opposition to the idea, especially from all those whacky Democrats who are convinced that Russian hacking caused poor Hillary’s defeat in the election. Putin will never be forgiven by America’s in-denial left for that alleged transgression.
A US-Russian alliance would be a tricky thing since Russia’s behavior has been less than exemplary in recent years. We have the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the assault on eastern Ukraine as well as the threats to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, perhaps even Finland) on the table for discussion. Also, Russia has allegedly committed human rights violations, maybe war crimes, while helping Assad fight the civil war in Syria, too. How are we to reach an understanding with Putin that while it is great to see Russia’s power and honor restored, beating up on everybody in the neighborhood is not the most acceptable way to make his point?
Here is where “spheres of influence” become relevant. The principle used to be a common card in the game of international diplomacy. Russia has every right to seek friendly governments on its borders. Sometimes a little meddling in those border states is necessary, too. That much we should accept.
The U.S. has certainly found it imperative to uphold our Monroe Doctrine with a little toughness from time to time, as well. We did not take kindly to the establishment of communist regimes near our borders during the Cold War or with pro-Nazi activity in Latin America during the World War II era.
Why not an arrangement which recognizes that each Power has its own neighborhood where its interests will be free from the other’s interference? Short of gross acts of aggression (of which Putin may already be guilty), we let the Russians have – within reason — free play in places like the Baltic, Belarus and the Ukraine, while they respect the same for us in the Caribbean and Latin America?
Then we can get to work on the threats which are mutual to us both. They remain the growing dangers of Islamist militancy and mushrooming Chinese power and expansionism. On those issues, America and Russia have common causes and an alliance to deal with them would be a formidable one. My enemy’s enemy is really my friend, anyone? It is a valuable principle of diplomacy.
It will require very skillful negotiating to forge an understanding that serves the interests of America and Russia, but it would put the Islamists on notice that we are both coming after them. It will be interesting to see how the new Administration deals with these matters. We suggest a “spheres of influence” formula as a starting point.
William (Bill) James is a retired community college history professor who lives in Reidsville with his wife of fifty years, Violet. He is active in the Rockingham Republican Party, enjoys gardening, ballroom dancing, and is currently working on his first novel.
For questions or comments, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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