Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, is by far and without a doubt the most wily of all the characters on the world stage. He is a gifted strategist. Every move he makes is calculated and intentional. And I do not remember a single incident in which Putin did not succeed in implementing his international agenda.
The Russians continually find ways to step up their game. And one of their favorite game playing maneuvers is pushing the buttons of the United States.
Applying pressure on Washington is one of their chief objectives. Putin enjoys seeing the United States sweat. And he enjoys it most when he is the cause behind U.S. discomfort. Aside from implementing their publicly stated conventional foreign policy objectives, over the past few years Russia has spent more time and exerted more effort disrupting U.S. interests and making them — diplomatically speaking — uncomfortable and hot under the collar than on any of their myriad goals or agenda items.
Seeing the United States squirm is undoubtedly one of Putin’s most pleasurable, and understandably, unstated objectives.
Putin is a master of strategy, a consummate diplomatic gamesman, a fierce competitor. Russia’s president never misses an opportunity to stick it to the U.S. And he does that most effectively by challenging the authority and power of the United States and its role as leader of the free world.
At a conference held recently on the topic of International Politics held in the famous Russian resort city of Sochi, Putin announced that Russians are helping China build a warning system against missiles. That’s big news. Until now, only the United States and Russia have had this exclusive kind of advanced technology.
Putin acknowledged the magnitude of this endeavor when he said: “This is a serious thing that will drastically increase the defense capabilities of the People’s Republic of China.”
By helping China build this defense system, Russia masterfully both advanced their own position and aided China — all of which further diminishes the position of the United States.
The Kremlin so enjoys these diplomatic strategic battles against the United States that Putin is even willing to reach out to his own natural partners and enlist them in the game. Russia usually stands alone when it comes to international maneuvering. But when it comes to diminishing the United States, Putin subscribes to the philosophy of ‘the more the merrier.’ And right now, courtesy of Putin’s maneuverings, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been pitted not only against Russia, but also against China and Iran.
China has entered the scene in a gargantuan way. Not only will they soon have that missile warning system, the Chinese also recently signed a $400 billion deal with Iran. That large sum of money will enter Iran in the form of a capital investment into their economy.
China is doing exactly the opposite of what the United States is asking countries to do. China is providing the badly needed U.S. dollars Iran needs to provide for basic economic necessities. The Chinese are giving Iran the money that the United States is denying Iran through the implementation of sanctions.
According to the traditional rules of diplomacy and one-upmanship, now the United States must confront both China and Russia. But will they? It is no secret that President Donald Trump does not play by conventional rules.
America’s response does not have to be military, and actually, the U.S. response should not be military at all. It should be strategic and diplomatic and economic. The U.S. should, diplomatically speaking, fight fire with fire. It should mimic the moves of Russia and of China. The United States should publically announce that they are tipping the scales to shore up their allies and to check the Russians. And then they should do just that. They should hurt China economically by sanctioning all products that have been touched by the Chinese/Iranian nexus.
Putin understands these power games. So do China and Iran. And even though they have been reluctant to respond, so does the United States. And that makes Putin smile. The only way to now regain their position of power is for the United States to do more than respond, they must confront.
If the United States does not confront the Russian championed challenges placed before them, the message transmitted to the rest of the world — to the myriad countries reliant on the United States — will be undeniable.
Inaction will be a signal to the world that Russia was right, that Russia rules, and that the United States has no bite behind their roar. And that is a scary proposition.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded “The Micah Report” and hosts “Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern” a weekly TV program and “My Chopp” a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.