Donald Trump’s inaugural address was intended primarily for a domestic audience. But a few points in the address related directly to Russia. First, unlike Barack Obama, who at his inauguration in 2013 promised to “support democracy everywhere,” Trump declared, “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example.” Second, the current occupant of the White House called Islamic terrorism the main enemy and gave his word that he would wipe it from the face of the earth. Third, Trump stated his intention to reinforce old alliances and form new ones.
Apparently, by “old alliances” Trump meant NATO, which he’s dubbed an ineffective “relic of the past” and promised to shift to self-financing. As for new alliances, in this case what’s being referred to is possible cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorists. It is precisely about such a scenario of cooperation that Trump himself was speaking, and no objections from the Kremlin followed. Moscow also anticipates that under Trump, America will finally get over its “liberal Trotskyism” and stop playing the role of generator of the color revolutions* that have plunged half the world into chaos.
And the signs of recovery can be seen already. As confidants of the American leader have confirmed, Trump won’t spend money and send in troops to protect “the suburbs of St. Petersburg,” which is what the White House now calls the Baltic states. And he won’t foment conflict in “Russia’s backyard” – that is, in Ukraine – since that geopolitical project, inherited from Barack Obama, is now considered “detrimental and of little promise.”
At the same time, Moscow is carefully studying Trump’s military program. Trump supposedly believes that unlike Russia, whose army has pumped up its muscles, American armed forces “have deteriorated and need to be restored.” Hence, in the near future, the U.S. plans to increase the number of its ships from 272 to 350, its combat aircraft from 1,100 to 1,200, and the number of its ground troops from 475,000 to 500,000. Nuclear weapons haven’t slipped under the radar either – Trump is going to develop and upgrade them. Just like, by the way, missile defense, which proves yet again that Trump isn’t an agent of the Kremlin and never was.
But if the American proletariat which put Trump in office in anticipation of new jobs hasn’t yet felt the benefits from the promise to increase the workload of the military-industrial complex, the lords of war have already reaped the dividends. According to The Wall Street Journal, immediately after Trump’s election, shares of Lockheed Martin climbed 6 percent and Raytheon added 7.5 percent, while Northrop Grumman moved up 5.4 percent. Even Sen. John McCain, who pleaded for an increase in the 2018 U.S. defense budget of more than $50 billion – to $640 billion – is rubbing his hands with glee. Under Trump, whose arrival in the White House McCain so opposed, the Pentagon’s budget will most likely grow by $80 billion.
The Russian Ministry of Defense doesn’t even dream of handling such sums. However, as Vladimir Putin has said more than once, Russia “will not be drawn into a costly arms race.” For Russia, more important than the U.S. military potential that Trump is going to expand are Trump’s good intentions, particularly if they get a good start in life; for example, if the U.S. removes its tanks from Russia’s borders. Moscow doesn’t have any legal objections now even in relation to Trump’s promises to develop missile defense: Do what you think is necessary, but not in Europe – on your own sovereign territory.
An America that is as great as that suits Russia perfectly.
*Editor’s note: The term “color revolutions” refers to several anti-government, pro-democracy movements that occurred in several areas in the former Soviet Union and in the Balkans in the 2000s.