Many people are concerned that President Vladimir Putin will militarily confront the United States (USA). Predominantly, in view of the popular notion that USA’s military is spread thin, depleted and preoccupied with China, North Korea and Iran.
The recent American missile strike in April 2017 against the suspected chemical weapons repeat-offender, Bashar al-Assad apparently didn’t alter this outlook either. And, the situation has become more stressful with Russian threats directed towards USA in Syria, reports of Russian military build-up in the Arctic, and Russian soldier and weapon movement near their border with North Korea.
A Russia/USA quarrel certainly would be the ‘clash of the behemoths’; ex-KGB lieutenant-colonel, ex-prime minister and ex-president now president, Putin versus unconventional, bold, billionaire businessman now president, Donald Trump.
Russian officials who study history learned lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis. The USA military was waiting for orders to attack the Soviet Union (USSR) with nuclear weapons. Nikita Khrushchev’s humiliation and fall from power is a reminder of treaty failures with the Americans. USSR players vowed not to let that happen again.
So, what is a theoretical synopsis of a Putin/Trump altercation?
Up to date information on Vladimir Putin is sketchy and on occasion not reliable. His tight circle of friends and associates are loyal and few have the bravely to investigate or release maverick information on the Russian president. Many times analyst must rely on second-hand sources, assumptions and connect partial material. With that said; Putin has vast experience in espionage and politics. He understands the importance of a masculine figure perception, a trait that is highly regarded in authoritative cultures.
Putin is a talented juggler, balancing his needs and master plan, along with the intelligence and military community, entrepreneurs and the Russian underworld.
The most effective perception is that Putin is a tough-guy. If only a small percentage of charges associated with assassinations, intelligence, mafia, hostile takeovers both in business and countries, and further military deployment are accurate, then he is not to be messed about with or miscalculated.
Based on prior events, Putin will likely increase the rhetoric, amplify surveillance and intensify military confrontations.
This tactic worked against President Obama and European leaders as Putin observed that Obama and Europe were unwilling to act militarily against the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2013 at Khan al-Assal (Aleppo), and Ghouta (Damascus), Syria.
As a result purportedly Putin questioned whether Obama or Europe would react if nuclear weapons would be used or if USA or the European continent was threatened. Supposedly afterwards Putin ordered his military to intensify border infringement against US and allies.
Some behavioral experts would attest; inactivity invites more intimidation. It certainly does in authoritative societies as inactivity is perceived as fear or weakness. If USA and Europe give in, Putin will have accomplished something with only talk and threats.
Except, President Trump has no parallel behavior traits to Obama or current European leaders, hence Trump will not respond in any like manner.
In glaring contrast to ‘Third culture kid’ President Obama who has an international cultural blend influencing his decisions, President Trump is classic-traditional cultured American and actions reflect that. Also, Trump has a dominate personality reacting powerfully to challenge or insults (a traditional New Yorker quality too).
Trump is not a politician and escapes the constraints. His natural instincts are to respond as a businessperson who combines flexibility, flow, delegating to experts and self-decision-maker-achievers, and most important, winning.
Moreover, he is a billionaire and commands confidence, aggression and daring few possess. These qualities should not be underestimated. Nor does Trump announce his military actions. He just does it. This is a complete reversal to the prior administration.
President Trump has surrounded himself with military hawks and has promised a massive increase in military spending. This is not a sign that Trump will be passive to Russian intimidation; quite the opposite.
It is probable he’ll first utilize the businessman angles but in correlation keep the military options wide open. I also believe Trump knows the same plan President Reagan used to peacefully defeat USSR will work today on Russia. Out build, out tech with anti-missile and enemy-missile-manipulation technology, out fly against the Russian borders, out sail against Russian sea boundaries (and with Subs), boycott and bankrupt Russia again.
The question becomes; is Putin willing to risk everything on confronting a person of equally strong character qualities who commands a massive WMD cache, and is obligated to prevent the unlawful use of chemical weapons? Is Putin prepared to jeopardize everything he has accomplished, personal wealth, influence, and obliterating what the Russian cartels have amassed, all for a shattered foreign country and a vanquished dictator who allegedly used chemical weapons multiple times on his own people?
Putin’s willingness to shield a rebellious WMD user is a paramount concern. Putin’s thought process may be that he’s doing nothing wrong, instead he’s advancing his and the Russian institution. Therefore what is to say he wouldn’t do the same as Assad or use chemicals against USA, Europe or the ex-Soviet States for his own objectives?
This is where it becomes Trump’s gamble as no one knows what Putin will do except for Putin.
It is a complex, delicate challenge dealing with the Russian leader who, like Trump, commands a major WMD arsenal, and reportedly has the mentality and the resolve to use it.
Ultimately, as a population it becomes our entanglement and there is no encouraging news.
USA being powerful is not a guarantee for safety as demonstrated daily with bullies, gangs, dictators and terrorists. The choices are; to accept and submit to bullies, gangs, dictators and terrorists making treaties while paying what ‘they’ demand (generally done covertly not to alarm the public as to the settlement conditions and transfer of funds) albeit, forever apologizing and making concessions; or you must act with extreme force to demonstrate your determination and strength in order to sustain control and dominance.
The trick with vastly armed ‘strongmen’ like Putin is to be sure he understands that his actions will have immediate, severe consequences on him personally; that aggression is too high a price to attempt.
But these warnings are frequently done in secret not to embarrass or humiliate ‘a strongman’, lest he act rashly or irrationally.
Therefore in conclusion, political and military posturing is normal. But hard Russian threats directed at a new, assertive US president who is establishing his authority, who is also reestablishing USA’s comprehensive responsibility and authority by squashing the use of WMDs in Syria, Russian threats which might be interpreted as targeting USA for the sake of protecting Bashar al-Assad, which plausibly could escalate into nuclear war between USA and Russia because of WMD user Assad, never to return to the way things were globally, seems precarious even in the best of circumstances.
Furthermore, no doubt there would be a total, chaotic, free-for-all ensuing in the Middle East, particularly targeting Israel, if strong ally USA was ruthlessly assaulted.
Instead of the potential mayhem though, maybe what Putin needs is an undemanding reminder of how good things are for him and Russia, rather than testing fate and awakening the United States of America.
USA, an established industrial and military giant, proved to the entire planet during World War Two, a two-front war, what it can do when there was a single goal of defeating the mighty, modernized but delusional world-conquering Nazis and Imperial Army.
However, there’s more habitual bad news. He’s not in the same class as Vladimir Putin yet it’s nearly the same principle; the Kim Jong-un entrapment.