The US official statements are often extremely tough and sometimes even bellicose but, like it or not, Russia is an international actor a dialog is inevitable with. National Security Adviser (NSA) John Bolton, a known anti-Russia hawk, visited Moscow on Oct.22-23.
He never sounds friendly but the intensity of his contacts with Russian officials is impressive enough. It was the third time in four months he held talks with high-placed Russian officials, including a five-hour conversation with the Russian counterpart and talks with defense and foreign ministers. Before the recent visit, he came to Moscow in June and met Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been invited to visit Washington in early 2019. The invitation has not been yet formally accepted and the scheduling is still to be ironed out. Before that the Russian and US leaders will meet in Paris at the WWI Victory centenary commemorations on November 11. This meeting will be special. A very important event – the US midterm election on Nov.6 – may change the background.
If Republicans win or retain the majority in both houses, President Trump will go to Paris relieved of a heavy load with his position much strengthened. No more talks about an impeachment caused by “Russiagate”.
Obstructing him in Congress won’t be an easy walk Democrats hope for. The deep state would be frustrated but it will have to reconcile with reality. The president will have much more wiggle room for achieving his foreign policy goals, especially when it comes to Russia. It does not mean he’ll lift the sanctions or change his stance on the INF Treaty.
It means that despite many things that divide them, the parties could have a dialog on major international and bilateral issues. Some of them will continue to be points of contention but some may turn into areas of cooperation. The two powers could have working relations to address the agenda of mutual interest and that’s what they lack at present.
Henry Kissinger had little sympathy for Communists and was no friend of the USSR. Nevertheless, in the capacity of national security adviser and state secretary he pioneered the policy of détente. He is still trying to upend the bilateral relationship. The Soviet Union and the United States were no friends but rather competitors. This fact did not prevent them from being dialog partners to large extent thanks to Mr. Kissinger’s efforts.
The worst was prevented, the balancing of the brink of conflict never resulted in real shooting and arms control was effectively in place. Mr. Bolton could do the same. As one can see, he maintains the contacts against all the odds. President Trump and his NSA believe it makes sense. Richard Nixon stood out for his ability to resist outside influence and make independent foreign policy decisions.
So is President Trump. There are similarities between the two. Parallels are drawn. President Putin and President Trump both believe in the virtue of the nation state and see a lot of shortcomings of the “supranational globalism” project.
Donald Trump’s opponents realize that. They are trying hard to prevent the undesired outcome on Nov.6. The “migrant caravan” is moving across Mexico to the US southern border to provoke the president into taking decisive steps, such as using the military to hold the migrants’ wave. If force is used, Trump’s opponents will raise hue and cry about it, using it for propaganda purposes.
If not, the president will fail to keep his pre-election promises to protect the national borders, frustrating Republican voters. No doubt, the “migrants’ caravan” is a well-orchestrated provocation timed with the midterm election. The NGO People Without Borders claims to be the organizer but obviously somebody is providing funds using it as a cover. The money to feed these people as they were crossing the territories of Honduras, Guatemala and a part of Mexico did not fall from the sky. Nobody of “caravan migrants” was suffering of hunger and thirst.
Some US media are already spreading around the stories to make readers sympathize with the would-be “victims” and see everything President Trump does in a negative light – a plot to deliver a blow at the time of election. Some media believe the “caravan” is linked to Democrat donors. George Soros the ubiquitous is reported to be behind the action along with Brian Roberts, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Comcast. True or not, evidently a group of very influential people is using the “caravan” for political purposes.
This is a real national security threat they want the president to turn a blind eye on while opposing the imaginary threat allegedly coming from Moscow. Russia’s experts realize well what the problems the US president has to face with his policies being subverted by powerful opponents. On the other hand, it can’t wait for better times forever.
Anyway, the outcome of the Nov.6 election will impact a lot of things, including the prospects for US-Russian relations.