Despite Donald Trump’s stated desire to mend fences with Russia, relations between the two countries remain tense. In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Thomas Whalen, an associate professor of social science at Boston University, said that the current tensions between the two countries go “well beyond Trump’s term in office.”
In an op-ed for The New York Times, wrapping up the results of his diplomacy in 2017, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered a somewhat rosy picture of what the US has achieved and argued that there is every reason to “be encouraged by the progress” made.
Looking at the hard facts, however, it is difficult to avoid the impression that things are not as good as America’s top diplomat believes they are.
“I think that [under President Trump] the world has become a much more unstable place as we all fear a possible nuclear war over the Korean peninsula. There have been a series of missteps by several Republican and Democratic administrations going back several decades, but [there hasn’t been] any real talk about going to war over it. Now it seems a fifty-fifty possibility,” Dr. Whalen said.
When asked who could fill the void if the US eventually loses control over the global situation, he said that China was already making moves in this direction.
“According to a 2014 IMF report, China already has the largest economy in the world and by the end of this decade it could be 20 percent bigger than that of the United States. We see China flexing its muscles in all areas. The US will continue being a huge player in the world, just by the fact that it has by far the largest military in the world, but in places like the Middle East, its influence will be [waning],” Dr. Whalen noted.He also mentioned the often conflicting positions on foreign policy issues taken by President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, above all regarding the Korean crisis.
He said that while Tillerson says that the US is open to talking to Pyongyang without any concessions, Trump acts in contradiction to Tillerson and other members of his administration insisting on certain conditions for negotiating with the North Korean leadership.
“Washington’s controversial foreign policy statements sow confusion in the world [which wonders] what the United States is up to, who is really at the helm in Washington and who is calling the shots [in US foreign policy],” Whalen continued.
He also mentioned what he described as a general state of anarchy with Trump pitting one member of the administration against another.
“This is not the way to run a government, and I think that in the long term this will hurt the United States internationally as a well as at home.”
When asked if he foresees any chance that relations between the US and Russia will develop and improve in the foreseeable future, he said that the current tensions between the two countries go “well beyond Trump’s term in office.”
“It goes back to the early-1990s with NATO’s expansion eastward. It’s been a kind of major source of contention between the US and Russia [which] felt encircled by the United States. There needs to be an understanding what each power’s true national interests are,” Thomas Whalen emphasized.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.