Writing at The American Conservative, Daniel DePetris says it will be hard to get American-Russian relations to improve, and President Trump has an unfortunate habit of making things unnecessarily hard on himself. DePetris hopes an improvement in relations can move forward even after what has been perceived by many, correctly or incorrectly, to be a debacle of a summit in Helsinki. DePetris writes (abridged):
Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin only just wrapped up their summit meeting in Helsinki, but the bottom-line verdict across the media and foreign policy establishment is that the entire affair was a disaster. Or, in Senator John McCain’s words, “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
We may never know whether Trump was more aggressive with Putin in private.
To leave American-Russian relations where they are at the moment would be the epitome of terrible statecraft. Trump’s assertion that a positive relationship with the Kremlin “is a good thing, not a bad thing” is an accurate one, even if he can’t explain why that’s the case.
The problem is that Trump has a habit of making things unnecessarily hard for himself. Washington is already dominated by intense and deep-rooted opposition to Russia that borders on paranoia.
In short, getting American-Russian relations out of its years-long funk will be a heavy political lift—even if it is necessary. Donald Trump deserves his share of credit for swimming against the current when a large cross-section of the Beltway would rather pile on more sanctions, travel freezes, and ostracism. One can only hope that Trump’s rejection of the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s malign role in the last presidential election doesn’t allow the foreign policy establishment to strangle detente in its crib.
Read more here.