Over the weekend, there was a flurry of attention when Donald Trump for the first time criticized and even arguably threatened Vladimir Putin by name. “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price… ….to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!” This is a notable change or line to have crossed. But let me throw some cold water on any sense that this is necessarily a good thing.
Going back almost two years I’ve heavily associated myself with the Trump/Russia story. You might say I’m a big Trump/Russia hawk. But I’m not a Russia hawk. And I’ve tried to make the point that one doesn’t imply the other, nor should it. This is a good example of that. Since Trump was elected, my greatest concern about Trump’s mysterious subservience to Putin wasn’t that he’d sell out the US. It was that his mix of subservience and Putin’s provocative behavior would lead to some series of miscommunications or escalations with disastrous results.