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The Coming Fight (or Love Fest) with Russia

December 14, 2016
Plain English Version
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia presented Rex W. Tillerson, with a medal in 2012 in St. Petersburg. Credit Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia presented Rex W. Tillerson, with a medal in 2012 in St. Petersburg. Credit Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev.

Russia is a big weak power. It has a weak economy. Its military is no match for the United States. It does have Vladimir Putin. He is a leader who is a good poker player.

Russia uses its military to impose its will against weak opponents. It annexed the Crimea. It seized parts of Ukraine. It moved its forces into Syria. Putin did not believe that President Obama had the nerve to call his bluffs. So far he has been right. The U.S. did not answer these moves with its military might.

These things set the stage for a bold move. Russia interfered with the recent election of the U.S. president. It hacked Democratic Party emails. It then leaked the contents. The leaks hurt the chances of candidate Hillary Clinton. America’s intelligence agencies are sure Russia was behind the leaks.

President-elect Trump knows Rex Tillerson. Tillerson is a good friend of Russia. He is the head of ExxonMobil. It is a giant energy company. The company has many deals with Russia. Some cannot begin while sanctions against Russia are in place. President Obama ordered them. It was his answer to Russian aggression.

Trump wants Tillerson to be his Secretary of State. As Secretary, Tillerson will represent America’s foreign policy. He is against the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.

Trump has said he does not think Russia hacked the Democrats. That is just his opinion. The known facts are to the contrary. Trump also admires Vladimir Putin.

Tillerson and Trump are dealmakers. Will they lift the sanctions against Russia if Russia reduces its troops in Syria? How about reducing its troops along the Ukraine border? Will they support Congressional efforts to look into the hacking?

Congress and the American people have long seen Russia as an adversary. The Republican Party has a history of concern about Russia.

A big test for Trump will be whether he can craft a sound Russian policy. Will he be able to convince the American public that he knows what he is doing? Rex Tillerson might be the right man for the job. He knew what he was doing as a business chief. Can he represent the United States as well as he did ExxonMobil?

Source: The New York Times December 12, 2016

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