Trump Won’t Be Corralled into Declaring Cold War II on Russia

The initial objective of the accusations that Russian intelligence hacked the National Democratic Committee for Donald Trump’s benefit was to delegitimize his win of the US presidential election. That scheme fell flat: There is no stopping him being sworn in as America’s 45th president on the 20th of this month.
Yet the finger of blame continues to be pointed unwaveringly at Moscow since that objective has been broadened into a strategic plan, which aims at convincing the president-elect that to make America great again, he has no option but to instigate a Cold War II between the US and Russia.
That conclusion springs from a theory making the rounds in certain circles in the US political, security and intelligence establishments, citing the example set by Ronald Reagan in the eighties.
They argue that unless Trump keeps Vladimir Putin on a very short rein, the Russian President will continue to walk off with one success after another, after annexing Crimea in 2014, invading eastern Ukraine in 2015, and intervening in the Syria war on behalf of Bashar Assad in 2015
The incoming president is constantly reminded that Putin is “our adversary,” and trendy US news analysts are describing Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as living in terror of an impending Russian invasion, showing Balts preparing boats to escape Russian troops.
President Barack Obama dances around the fringes of this drive, by highlighting US Intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians meddled in the US election. But his decision to expel 35 Russian diplomats cut no ice with Trump; nor did it win him over to belligerence against Moscow.
Quite the reverse: When Putin said he would not retaliate by expelling US diplomats, Trump tweeted: “Great move on delay – I always knew he [Putin] was very smart.”
Asked Saturday, Dec. 31, about Russian hacking allegations and his future plans to tighten cyber security, the president elect told reporters that “no computer is safe” and “hacking is a very hard thing to prove” for intelligence officials.
Trump worded this undoubtedly correct assessment in a manner that showed America’s military intelligence arms and private cyber security companies in the poorest possible light.
(See separate article on his future plans to shake up those sectors.)
He relented slightly by accepting the challenge to give US intelligence chiefs a hearing on their allegations of Russian hacking of the Democratic Party’s computers.
But Wednesday, Jan. 4, he tweeted again: “The "Intelligence" briefing on so-called "Russian hacking" was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!
DEBKA Weekly’s sources stress that fending off attempts to corral him into an adversarial posture against Moscow does not mean that Trump is in Putin’s pocket – only that he intends to deal in his own way and in his own good time with a leader whom he recognizes as smart and powerful.
Putin, for his part and his own reasons, is on record as coming forward with assistance for US presidents. In September 2001, straight after the Al Qaeda attack on New York and Washington, the Russian president offered to help President George W. Bush in America’s fight against Osama bin Laden.
Bush accepted Putin’s offer at the outset of the Afghanistan war, then left him out in the cold.
As for Obama, the Russian president was ready to cooperate in two conflict arenas: the military operation to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and the civil war in Syria in 2016.
Obama too brushed him off.
Unlike his two predecessors, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report that Donald Trump is ready to hear the Russian president out on his fourth offer of assistance in 16 years to an American president – this time, to work hand in hand with the United States to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
But the president-elect is already using a tooth comb to examine from every angle any such transactions with his Russian counterpart and winkle out the precise strategic and economic gains Putin has in mind.
Transition teams, headed by designated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, are therefore holding round-the-clock meetings with Russian teams in Moscow and Washington to establish how far Putin is ready to go for cooperation with the new US president.
Until Tillerson and Flynn come back with answers, the incoming US president will not let himself be pushed into challenging Putin to a premature duel.

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