Harlan Ullman’s latest makes a lot of sense.
Last year was more Hobbesian than
Panglossian, with the Trumpian swamp deteriorating into a more dangerous
quagmire. The other side of this coin also needs to be examined. What can be
done to make things better?
The first is to prevent an unnecessary arms race
and military competition with Russia. The White House has declared it will exit
from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty with Russia this year. Similarly,
with Russian declarations about super weapons such as the Satan and now
hypersonic missiles, the United States may find no option except to respond.
The new START treaty that limits strategic nuclear weapons likewise may be in
The basis for the increased hostility between
Moscow and the West did not begin with the Trump administration. When the
Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago, the West collectively began expanding
NATO with former Warsaw Pact states. The crucial question that the Clinton
administration failed to answer was what to do about Russia? The NATO-Russia
Council turned out not to be it.
Russia has always been paranoid about
encirclement. And President Vladimir Putin grew increasingly distrustful of
what he saw as America’s irresponsible foreign policies. Putin argued
strenuously against George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, rightly fearing
the Middle East would be cast into chaos — which it was. In 2008, at the
Bucharest NATO heads of government summit, Bush assured Georgia and Ukraine
ultimate NATO membership. Putin was livid.
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Russia set a trap for Georgia later that
year. Georgia bit. Now South Ossetia is occupied by Russia and if NATO
guidelines for membership are followed, Georgia with contested borders is not
eligible. Similarly, in 2014, Russia seized Crimea and sent troops into the Donbas
that still divides Ukraine. The West found this unacceptable and reacted by
reinforcing defense and deterrence in NATO against further Russian
The sensible approach is to put these huge
differences aside for the moment in order to avoid a future and needless arms
race. Whether or not Putin has leverage over President Donald Trump, reducing
tensions is vital to both East and West. Global economies are not strong and
sanctions are indeed hurting Russia. Spending more on mass destruction armaments
makes little sense. Yet, will common sense permit some reconciliation?
Second, a trade war with China will be
disastrous. Averting a trade war must be a high priority. Perhaps another
summit between Trump and Xi Jingping can break the logjam. As bad as stock
market performance was in the United States, it was far worse last year in
China. And debt and deficits cast long shadows on the economic health of both
giants. But can or will the two sides see a way out? We must try.
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Third, politics in Washington are about to
become even more bitter, divided and partisan. The border wall with Mexico is
really a symptom of the huge divide between both parties. For the moment,
bridging this seemingly impenetrable political wall appears impossible. The
2020 presidential campaign, already underway, will further harden the wall
between Republicans and Democrats.
One area on which both parties agree is the
need for a massive …read more
Source:: The Korelin Economics Report