Now in the lightning round of his term in office, U.S. President Barack Obama by executive order has issued what are in effect personal sanctions against Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump for the cyberattacks that affected the outcome—more than the course—of the U.S. election. With these sanctions, Obama has effectively forced Donald Trump, elected and confirmed by the Electoral College as U.S. president, into a political trap. Now, the test of the many pre-election obeisances between Trump and Putin, as well as of the endless overtures from analysts and the press about the comfortable relations between us and the White House’s new administration, will be for the now-real U.S. President Donald Trump to get across the red line by immediately lifting the latest presidential sanctions against Russia and its diplomats for their interference in the U.S. electoral process, influencing the election in Trump’s favor.
By lifting them, Trump would certainly affirm his vector toward an alliance with Russia against everyone—especially against China—and toward new Russian-American relations in recognition of Russia’s main interests. But this decision would amount to peremptory disregard on Trump’s part for the American establishment’s opinion about the Russian trail in his election. Considering the fact that his ballot box held 3 million fewer real votes than Hillary Clinton’s, it’s an extremely brash, abrupt and dangerous move.
By not lifting these sanctions, Trump would effectively concede as fact the decisive significance of Russian interference in his election to the U.S. presidency. This would obviously undermine his domestic and international legitimacy, severely constrain him from independently (even from Democrats) forming his new administration, and either subordinate him to the centuries-old system of Wall Street American elites, or require him to carry out wars against the opposition and even a real revolution in the American political system, no longer through campaign slogans but from the Oval Office of the White House. Not only has no American president dared to do such a thing, but none has even declared it while trying to ingratiate himself with the public in the heat of an election campaign.
At the same time, by lifting the sanctions, Trump would truly, honestly be turning his ship toward Russia, and that would mean there won’t be a great war in the world in the near future, and that we have a chance at interesting, fair elections for the Russian presidency, as well as at carrying out sovereign economic reforms without serious military conflicts along our Russian perimeter.
I put the odds on Trump’s decision at 49 to 51 in favor of not lifting these personal sanctions. First of all, I give more credence to “Trump’s folly” solely in the context of the campaign season; second, I give more credence to the emergence of agreements Trump has already made since Nov. 8 involving the American elites; and finally, due to the fact that the U.S. has an extremely stable political and financial system that hasn’t yet been brought down by a single “revolutionary president.”
But nevertheless, 49 percent is 49 percent.