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Opinion: Will Trump’s First Political Lesson be Putin? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Days after the former US President George W Bush junior was elected, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin sought to arrange a meeting with the then President-elect but Bush’s team at the time delayed the meeting for months. The meeting between Bush and Putin took place in 2001. After the meeting, Bush said that it had gone “very well” and added as he stood beside President Putin “I found him to be honest and straightforward, and he loves his country”.

Bush said that he looked into Putin’s eyes and discovered what was hidden within him. He added that Putin is “a leader who the Americans can trust”. However, in recent years the former President Bush talked about his relationship with Putin bitterly to the extent that he said that Putin had humiliated his dog! Bush says that his relationship with President Putin deteriorated over the years and added that Putin sees America as an “enemy”, and considers the relationship between Washington and Moscow as a competitive relationship where there are winners and losers. Bush said that Putin “dissed” his dog Barney who had a special place in his heart and commented “You call it a dog?” when Bush presented Barney to him.

These are the feelings of the former President Bush junior, who led two simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, towards Putin. These are the feelings of Bush who thought that the world is either with him or against him; he felt disappointed with Putin after holding a good opinion of him.

Over the last seven years we have seen, and we continue to see what President Putin has done to President Barack Obama regarding issues ranging from Ukraine to Syria. After all of this, the US President-elect Donald Trump says that he believes that President Putin is a strong man who deserves appreciation. Trump exclaimed “Would it not be wonderful if our relationship with Russia improved?” Some people may say here that Trump has abilities that Bush junior or Obama do not have, especially as Trump is always bragging about his negotiating abilities.

The truth is that there is no meaning to this in politics; Trump sees Putin as Bush saw him at the beginning and Trump’s position on Putin and Russia is the same as the one that was held by Obama who thought that he was different to Bush. However, none of them succeeded in understanding Putin or Russia.

As a result, Europe is now concerned about the new American attitude towards Russia and Putin whether that is concerning Ukraine, NATO, or Syria. Therefore, the question here is: “Will Putin be Trump’s first political lesson?” The problem here is that Europe, our region and the world as a whole will pay the price.