Trump and Putin: Some 1980s Background

What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?

The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs. Read More

A Small Russian Overture

Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More

Links – March 28, 2017

Protests across Russia and Belarus over the weekend. The main target is corruption. Here’s a backgrounder about the situation in Belarus.  Alexei Navalny, a leader of the opposition in Russia, sparked protests there with a video about Dmitry Medvedev’s corruption (English subtitles). Why the protests focused on Medvedev. They are a problem for Putin too. The discontent is likely to affect Russia’s next election. Photo: A demonstration in Belarus. Read More

Links – January 2, 2017

This story goes back to 2007, when Israel bombed a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria. It’s a detailed account from Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA at the time. The uncertainties and the complexity of the story are normal for international affairs, and thus the story is a good example of the kind of thing President Donald Trump will face. Short version: Syria builds a nuclear reactor to produce bomb material. Israel wants America to destroy it. America refuses, Israel bombs the site. The world learns it was a reactor. But the whole thing is worth reading. Photo: The reactor before it was bombed.  Read More

Links – October 28, 2016

One of the best articles on understanding Vladimir Putin that I have read. By Fiona Hill.

Putin’s Chaos Strategy Is Coming Back to Bite Him in the Ass. Also very good.

Russia is trying to hack the election. What should the US do? If you’ve been reading my comments, you already know this. And it looks like Putin realizes that Donald Trump is not going to win, so he seems to have been on good behavior in his speech at the Valdai Club. This is consistent with his “chaos strategy” and the tactical approach described by Fiona Hill. Read More

Countering Putin

It’s one thing to act as one thinks a great power would act. It’s another to be acknowledged as a great power. Vladimir Putin thinks a great power would freely take a bite of a neighbor’s land, intervene on behalf of a client, and flaunt its cruise missiles. But the real prize is negotiating with other great powers over spheres of interest. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

But the great powers, particularly the United States, are not cooperating. Read More