Opinion | The Art of Containing Trump (and Putin) – By Stephen Sestanovich – NYT

Divided administrations produce incoherent diplomacy. That’s why President Trump’s meeting next Monday in Helsinki, Finland, with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is unlikely to go well. In their preparations for the summit, Mr. Trump and his advisers appeared to recognize the need for greater discipline and focus. These could, if sustained, be the ingredients of a more promising phase in Russian-American relations. But to reach that goal, Mr. Trump has to accept something he will find extremely distasteful — a diminished role for himself.

Few new presidents have been so completely at odds with their top advisers on a major foreign policy problem as Mr. Trump has always been on Russia. He is guided by a longstanding desire to “get along” with Mr. Putin; the senior members of his team start with deep suspicion and hostility. A paralyzing confusion has been the result.

That may be changing — and on some of the most sensitive issues dividing Moscow and Washington. When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured Congress last month that Mr. Trump would take a firm stand in Helsinki on election meddling, the president’s immediate response (on Twitter) was to remind us that according to the Russians, meddling never happened. Then, as though someone had advised him this was the wrong answer, he changed course. “We don’t want anybody tampering with elections,” he told an interviewer.

The president also let others tidy up his foolish remarks on Ukraine. After he said he might consider recognizing Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, his national security adviser, John Bolton, called that view “not the position of the United States.” All the president meant, Mr. Bolton insisted, was that he would hear Mr. Putin out. Soon Mr. Trump shrugged off his earlier statement. “I’ll talk to him about everything,” he explained.

via Opinion | The Art of Containing Trump (and Putin) – The New York Times

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About David Lindsay Jr

David Lindsay is the author of "The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth- Century Vietnam," that covers a bloody civil war from 1770 to 1802. It was published by Footmad and Cherry Blossom Press on September 11, 2017. Find more about it at TheTaySonRebellion.com, also known as, DavidLindsayJr.com.
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