Friday, December 16, 2016

Vladimir Putin wants a new world order. Why would Donald Trump help him?

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer December 15 at 9:45 PM, WashPost

Put his campaign rhetoric, tweets and appointments all together, and we’re getting a sense of U.S. foreign policy under Donald Trump. The president-elect has consistently signaled that he wants to be accommodating toward Russia and get tough on China. But that sees the world almost backward. China is, for the most part, comfortable with the U.S.-led international system. Russia is trying to upend it.

It’s ironic that Mitt Romney has been passed over for secretary of state just as his key foreign policy judgment is being vindicated. Romney famously said in 2012 that Russia was the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” President Obama mocked the claim, and others — myself included — thought it was an exaggeration. We were wrong; Romney was right.

Obama’s rationale for contradicting Romney was that Russia was a “regional power,” one in economic decline. That made it a nuisance but not a grave global threat. This is an accurate reading of Russia’s position, which has only gotten worse since 2012. The country’s economy has actually shrunk for two years now. The Economist points out that, over the past decade, state spending has risen from 35 percent of gross domestic product to a staggering 70 percent. The ruble has collapsed. The country’s sovereign debt is now rated as junk by Moody’s.

But under President Vladi­mir Putin, Russia has found a way to assert itself geopolitically, despite its economic weakness. It has done so by using effectively what strength it has, such as its still-formidable military and intelligence services as well as its veto in the U.N. Security Council. Most ambitiously and devastatingly, it has found a way to leverage its strength dramatically using cyberwarfare.

(More here.)

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