How they see us: An untrustworthy partner for Russia
President Trump’s assault on Syria has blown up all hopes of better relations between Russia and the U.S., said Dmitry Suslov in Valdaiclub.com. As punishment for what U.S. news reports claimed was a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a rebel-held town, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week, destroying several buildings and six planes. While the U.S. did warn Russia of the impending strike, giving our Syrian allies time to evacuate, the budding partnership between the Kremlin and the White House suffered “a colossal blow.” Russia has troops and powerful air defense systems in Syria, and if the U.S. military violates international law again to strike our partner Assad, “Russia will have to take countermeasures.” A military clash between our two nations, “which seemed unlikely with the arrival of the Trump administration, is now possible.”
The Americans are pretending that Trump ordered the strike because he was outraged by images of gassed children, said Andrey Klimov in Izvestiya. But such operations “require solid preparation,” and this supposed chemical attack was just an excuse for an intervention. The “White Helmets,” the Syrian rescuers who took videos and photos of the alleged gas victims, are “probably affiliated with U.S. intelligence” and were instructed to procure such images. And just two days after those images appeared in the international media, the bombs began to fly—no investigation, no confirmation, just an attack. It’s a common U.S. pattern: Remember the Malaysia Airlines plane that went down over Ukraine in 2014? Russia was immediately declared the culprit, and a few hours later the U.S. introduced sanctions that had obviously been drafted long before.
But Moscow and Damascus weren’t the targets here, said Sergei Markov in Echo.msk.ru. The point was to make Trump look presidential back home, and that mission was accomplished. His friends and enemies alike cheered and “lavished praise” on him. That’s because in the U.S., “Democrats and Republicans have to support any crazy military action with an ultrapatriotic display.” Now that Trump has bombed another country, Americans are distracted from his humiliating string of policy failures. Bombing, then, is a show of Trump’s weakness, not his strength.
That weakness makes Trump especially dangerous to Russia, said Mikhail Rostovsky in Moskovsky Komsomolets. When faced with a strong opponent, “you can negotiate based on mutual interest.” But a weak opponent is liable to lash out randomly. Trump is a “cornered, novice president who desperately needs some success.” And with anti-Russian hysteria peaking in the U.S., he has every incentive to lash out at us, to convince Americans that he is not the puppet of President Vladimir Putin. The Tomahawks were not launched to serve “some wellthought- out philosophy of foreign policy.” Trump is guided only by “his well-developed instinct for self-preservation.” ■