In Part One and Two of this series, we ran through an analysis of the new Cold War that has broken out between Russia and the United States. Vladimir Putin, estimated at a $200 billion net worth, has done an excellent job at making sure that Russia is at top strength. An active military personnel of 775,000 and nuclear arsenal reaching 4,500 warheads give Putin ample opportunity to flex Russia’s military strength during his administration. Russia’s increase in foreign intervention should be seen as a demonstration of a more aggressive pursuit of world power by Vladimir Putin. As the United States embraces a new slate of Trump administration policies, the question remains: will Russia and the United States struggle once again to establish dominance and change the trajectory of history?
One of the factors that we’ve previously discussed in this power struggle between the United States and Russia is the rather odd relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. In an interview last week with Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump, Trump was asked why he respected “a killer.” He said, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” This statement places the United States and Russia on the same level of morality. Downplaying the benevolence of the U.S. will quickly earn a President a wave of fire from the media and constituents. I predict that we will see Trump shy away from his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Although their encounters are in the limelight now, do not expect it to keep up.
As stated in Part Two of the series, Russia has increased its foreign intervention exponentially. With increases in cybercrime and an aggressive foreign policy stance, Russia has resurfaced as a viable threat to the United States. I expect to see continued aggression in the Middle East and closed door deals with Iran, Syria, or North Korea. Although, Vladimir Putin has no inherent interest in relationships with any of these countries, a partnership with any one of them will leave the United States vulnerable. Given Iran’s recent missile tests and Kim Jong-un’s erratic behavior, the United States needs to beat Russia to the punch by imposing harsh sanctions on Iran’s missile systems and deploying naval forces to roam around the Pacific to ensure that North Korea knows there is a watchful eye hovering above them.
In January 1977, Ronald Reagan plainly said, “My idea of American policy toward the Soviet Union is simple, and some would say simplistic. It is this: We win and they lose.” Could it really by this simple? Packed into such a simply constructed sentence was a vast wealth of what would become known as the “Reagan Doctrine,” a strategy created to cripple the Soviet Union and end the Cold War. Similarly, Donald Trump took a simplistic approach to his presidency, frequently describing all the winning that America will do under his administration. President Trump’s best option is to translate this straightforward concept into an assortment of economic, military, and foreign policies to make swift work of Russia’s increasing dominance in Eastern Europe.
As the world waits in uncertainty, policy analysts draft up legislation to impose international sanctions. As the American and the Russian people go home at night, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin play their intellectual chess match. As children are put to sleep, weapons of mass destruction are created and placed in silos across the globe. Many say that we live in the age of information. What they fail to grasp is that information is merely the means by which we attain the age that we truly live in: conflict. Conflict surrounds us just as much as the air we breathe. Whether it is expressed through a tweet, the fire of a gun, or the threat of launching a nuclear missile, it is a fight that we face daily. For the United States and Russia, that fight is here. One can speculate about the vast array of possible scenarios that could play out between the two superpowers, but in reality, it will all boil down to one question: who will blink first?