US President Donald Trump in his first annual address to the Congress “on the state of the country” on January 30, assessed the state of the US economy, opposed the cut of the military budget, declared the need to modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal and noted that Russia and China threaten the interests of the United States.
In the Budget Message of the President to the Congress released recently Donald Trump “requests $24 billion to modernize and sustain the three legs of the nuclear triad—land, sea, and air—as well as nuclear command, control, and communications systems”. The overall budget of the DOD for 2019 should be $686 billion – 13 % more than in 2017. China and Russia are again mentioned as a problem to America’s security.
A year ago, Donald Trump won the presidential elections claiming the USA is going the wrong way, and it was mainly about economic, tax and social policy. “America first” – then sounded his famous and victorious slogan. His foreign policy precepts were also largely reduced to economic issues. Now, a year later, in his statements about the future prosperity of the United States under his leadership we clearly witness a call for strengthening the country’s military component. He stated that the idea of a nuclear-free world is unattainable in modern conditions (which one can agree with!), there are a lot of enemies and rivals around the world, and they threaten the welfare of America. What has changed in the US foreign policy since Donald Trump’s inauguration to the White House a year ago?
At home and overseas many acknowledge that the foreign policy rhetoric of the White House has become more aggressive and at the same time more reckless. Trump has set a course for active interference in the policies of other countries, claiming he is ready to use military force where necessary without hesitation. His first objects of attention were such countries as Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea. He stubbornly follows this path, threatening to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran, pointing to the possibility of using force against the regime in North Korea and transferring troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Threatening Russia with new sanctions the United States has plans to impose new sanctions against North Korea as well.
It is understandable that the current aggressive presidential rhetoric and increased attention to foreign policy issues are Trump’s response to his domestic problems -the investigations that have been initiated with regard to his electoral past. His one-year- after growing anti-Russian stance is used as a tool of defense in the exhausting struggle with his multiple opponents.
At the same time Trump’s attitude towards the possible use of nuclear weapons has raised more concerns among Americans about the President’s authority to order a nuclear attack. Many experts believe that as a result Trump will inevitably begin to lose the votes of his supporters within the country.
“..a poll commissioned by the Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy revealed that nearly 71 percent of Americans want their representatives in Congress to constrain Washington’s interventionist impulses. Americans believe that war is a last resort. They desire “clearly defined goals to authorize military engagement overseas, including a timeline and what will contribute victory; [and] oversight and accountability from Congress in regards to where troops are stationed and what is being accomplished abroad.”A solid majority of Americans, according to the poll, also want assurances that weapons and equipment provided to others are not used in ways that harm innocent civilians”- writes Christopher A. Preble in the National Interest.
But these warnings do not stop the White House. Domestic problems force the administration to constantly “pedal” the bike of external threats and need for an American response to them.
“The Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy” – Paul Sonne writes in the Washington Post, – “….that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the U.S. arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning”.
The US intends to modernize its nuclear arsenal in order to deter Russia, – says the new nuclear strategy of the Pentagon. In Moscow, such plans were considered confrontational, also noting that Washington’s intentions would lead to the launch of a new arms race, which has many direct and indirect consequences. Trump already receives warnings from many experts that the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict is not a toy with which to play and throw away. The inevitable response on the part of the opponents of the United States can transform this conflict from regional to global one. History teaches us that wars are easily unleashed, but they end very hard.
” In dealing with our Middle East adversaries—and China, Russia and especially North Korea—President Trump ought not to assume that they will respond to his bluster and blandishments in the same way partners and rivals in the business world did ” – warns George C. Herring and Michael C. Desch in the National Interest.
A year has passed, but Trump, in contrast to his predecessors, until today has never taken any initiative on nuclear arms control. It can be assumed that his administration’s strategic report, which paints a gloomy picture of America’s weaknesses, only strengthens the President’s opinion that the nuclear component should be urgently strengthened, Europe included. But European experts are hesitant on the issue, worrying about the danger of being an unwitting victim in a confrontation unleashed by the US far from its borders. In a new possible nuclear arms race, Europe may find itself in the middle, as a potential region of military tension, which causes concern for many EU countries.
In an article in Neue Zürcher Zeitung journalist Andreas Rüesch writes: “There are enough vulnerabilities along NATO’s Eastern border, but it is the issue of conventional arms. Strengthening tactical nuclear capabilities can be not only a false signal, but also a waste of money, which at a time of limited military budget the United States need in other areas”, – sums up the author.
Moreover, Russia, apparently, is not going to get involved in this “game of the past.” “The nuclear doctrine of the United States is an attempt to draw Russia into an arms race and to confirm the USA superpower status” – says Vladimir Shamanov the Chairman of the Russian Duma Defense Committee. According to him, by this doctrine “the Americans are trying to restore their superpower status quo as a result of the next round of the arms race. President (Putin) has already said how we are going to react. We have our own strategy: it is balanced and reasonable. The most important for us is not to repeat the mistakes of the Gorbachev period, not to get involved in the arms race, but to implement our own concepts and evaluate what is happening in a balanced manner, effectively at the same time,” – Shamanov told TASS Agency.
In this regard the main question arises: is the United States ready for the extension of existing arrangements in the field of nuclear arms control? Signals on this issue are different. Uncertainty is in the air. The START treaty is valid till February 2021, and if agreed upon, and the period of validity may be extended for up to five years, until 2026, – the nuclear doctrine of the United States says.
There are no serious threats to the implementation of the current agreements within the START framework, and over the past seven years the parties have already made the arms reductions stipulated in the Treaty, Russian political scientist Alexey Arbatov believes. “The only threat to START – is the break of the Agreement on medium-range and short-range missiles: if it will collapse, START will collapse too”, – the expert believes. As for the extension of the agreements, the situation is uncertain. “Earlier, Donald Trump was critical of the START, however, the nuclear doctrine mentions the possibility of extending the Treaty until 2026,” – said Arbatov.
American experts also agree that the recent statements of the US administration on nuclear weapons do not make the world safer. Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration who directed oversight of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, called “the new plan a dangerous folly that would make nuclear war more likely”.
In their turn analysts Michael McFaul and Jon Wolfsthal write in the Washington Post: “That’s a mistake. The lessons of the Cold War are that nuclear wars must not be fought and that arms races cannot be won. Of course, we must preserve a strong and effective nuclear deterrent to protect us and our allies. The United States’s nuclear forces and planned modernization are already more than capable of sustaining that deterrent for decades. But arms control agreements such as the New START treaty, also advance U.S. security interests….We cannot predict whether new arms-control talks will produce results, let alone what the next arms-control agreement might look like. But we know what happens when we lack the predictability and transparency that verified treaties provide. And we know that the next deal will not happen without direct negotiation with our Russian counterparts”.
Besides there is evidence that the US military distort facts in an attempt to get bigger budget.
“Pentagon chart misleadingly suggests the US is falling behind in a nuclear arms race”- says the title of the article by Glenn Kessler in The Washington Post.
He continues: “The chart purports to show that Russia, China and North Korea have raced ahead of the United States in developing new nuclear systems since the last NPR was released in 2010……..
The chart clearly was ginned up to cast the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the worst possible light. By dint of its timeline and its exclusion of U.S. life extensions and future systems, the chart offers a highly misleading picture of the U.S. strategic position, suggesting the United States has allowed its delivery systems to atrophy. The chart should be replaced with a more accurate representation of the facts — and officials such as Mattis should not cite it in congressional testimony to claim a 34-to-1 advantage for adversaries over the United States. From such flimsy statistics bad policies may be born”.
It seems very likely that the current US administration is again trying to win the next round of the global game and get the “Superpower Cup”. But for this, in the current circumstances, they do not have the main thing – geopolitical and economic superiority. In the 21-st century we know – it’s this, rather than the number of nuclear missiles and other weapons that allowed the US to win the cold war and try rule the world for a while complacently. Much has changed since then. More countries possess nuclear weapons and their delivery systems nowadays, the United States is divided into two camps of opponents and supporters of the current administration, its European allies do not share Washington’s new foreign policy, do not understand and do not believe in its ally in many respects. China is on the verge of economic victory and tries on the role of a superpower, Donald Trump, mindlessly destroying NAFTA, loses friendship of American neighbors, and Russia is not going to repeat its mistakes of the past in the field of the arms race, stubbornly and successfully overcoming economic difficulties of the post-sanction period. It’s for this reason that the old-script game, apparently, will not take place.
In conclusion, it makes sense to recall the statements of two famous characters of the past. “War is a continuation of politics by other means,” said the famous Prussian military commander Karl Clausewitz. And this has a direct bearing on the US current foreign policy. But the German writer Thomas Mann decided otherwise. “War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace time” – he said. And it’s a much more precise definition of what President Trump is trying to do – to solve problems by force. But there is another way to solve the “problems of peace time.” And it is well known.
First published in our partner International Affairs
As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them
Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*
In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.
Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.
New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming
To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.
Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.
We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.
How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?
Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.
As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.
Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.
Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.
Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.
Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.
Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.
Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.
Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.
Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.
Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success
This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.
The indictment of businessman Thomas J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. Trump’s inauguration committee once he won the 2016 election, puts at risk the UAE’s relationship with the Biden administration.
It also threatens to reduce the UAE’s return on a massive investment in lobbying and public relations that made it a darling in Washington during the last four years.
A 2019 study concluded that Emirati clients hired 20 US lobbying firms to do their bidding at a cost of US$20 million, including US$600,000 in election campaign contributions — one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure by a single state on Washington lobbying and influence peddling.
The indictment further raises the question of why the Biden administration was willing to allow legal proceedings to put at risk its relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, one that last year opened the door to recognition of Israel by Arab and Muslim-majority states.
The UAE lobbying effort sought to position the Emirates, and at its behest, Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed’s counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, at the heart of US policy, ensure that Emirati and Saudi interests were protected, and shield the two autocrats from criticism of various of their policies and abuse of human rights.
Interestingly, UAE lobbying in the United States, in contrast to France and Austria, failed to persuade the Trump administration to embrace one of the Emirates’ core policy objectives: a US crackdown on political Islam with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed views political Islam and the Brotherhood that embraces the principle of elections as an existential threat to the survival of his regime.
In one instance cited in the indictment, Mr. Barrack’s two co-defendants, a UAE national resident in the United States, Rashid Al-Malik, and Matthew Grimes, a Barrack employee, discussed days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration the possibility of persuading the new administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated foreign terrorist organization. “This will be a huge win. If we can list them. And they deserved to be,” Mr. Al-Malik texted Mr. Grimes on 23 January 2017.
The unsuccessful push for designating the Brotherhood came three months after Mr. Barrack identified the two Prince Mohammeds in an op-ed in Fortune magazine as members of a new generation of “brilliant young leaders.” The billionaire argued that “American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East… By supporting their anti-terrorism platforms abroad, America enhances its anti-terrorism policies at home.”
Mr. Barrack further sought to persuade America’s new policymakers, in line with Emirati thinking, that the threat posed by political Islam emanated not only from Iran’s clerical regime and its asymmetric defence and security policies but also from the Brotherhood and Tukey’s Islamist government. He echoed Emirati promotion of Saudi Arabia after the rise of Mohammed bin Salman as the most effective bulwark against political Islam.
“It is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support…. The confused notion that Saudi Arabia is synonymous with radical Islam is falsely based on the Western notion that ‘one size fits all,’ Mr. Barrack asserted.
The Trump administration’s refusal to exempt the Brotherhood from its embrace of Emirati policy was the likely result of differences within both the US government and the Muslim world. Analysts suggest that some in the administration feared that designating the Brotherhood would empower the more rabidly Islamophobic elements in Mr. Trump’s support base.
Administration officials also recognized that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt constituted a minority, albeit a powerful minority, in the Muslim world that was on the warpath against the Brotherhood.
Elsewhere, Brotherhood affiliates were part of the political structure by either participating in government or constituting part of the legal opposition in countries like Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia.
The affiliates have at times supported US policies or worked closely with US allies like in the case of Yemen’s Al Islah that is aligned with Saudi-backed forces.
In contrast to UAE efforts to ensure that the Brotherhood is crushed at the risk of fueling Islamophobia, Nahdlatul Ulama, one of, if not the world’s largest Muslim organization which shares the Emirates’ rejection of political Islam and the Brotherhood, has opted to fight the Brotherhood’s local Indonesian affiliate politically within a democratic framework rather than by resorting to coercive tactics.
Nahdlatul Ulama prides itself on having significantly diminished the prospects of Indonesia’s Brotherhood affiliate, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), since the 2009 presidential election. The group at the time successfully drove a wedge between then-President Susilo Yudhoyono, and the PKS, his coalition partner since the 2004 election that brought him to power. In doing so, it persuaded Mr. Yudhoyono to reject a PKS candidate as vice president in the second term of his presidency.
Nahdlatul Ulama’s manoeuvring included the publication of a book asserting that the PKS had not shed its links to militancy. The party has since failed to win even half of its peak 38 seats in parliament garnered in the 2004 election.
“Publication of ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ had a considerable impact on domestic policy. It primarily contributed to neutralizing one candidate’s bid for vice president in the 2009 national election campaign, who had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said militancy expert Magnus Ranstorp.
Biden Revises US Sanctions Policy
In the United States, a revision of the sanctions policy is in full swing. Joe Biden’s administration strives to make sanctions instruments more effective in achieving his political goals and, at the same time, reducing political and economic costs. The coordination of restrictive measures with allies is also seen as an important task. Biden is cautiously but consistently abandoning the sanctions paradigm that emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The US sanctions policy under Trump was characterised by several elements. First, Washington applied them quite harshly. In all key areas (China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc.), the United States used economic and financial restrictions without hesitation, and sometimes in unprecedented volumes. Of course, the Trump administration acted rationally and rigidity was not an end in itself. In a number of episodes, the American authorities acted prudently (for example, regarding sanctions on Russian sovereign debt in 2019). The Trump-led executives stifled excess Congressional enthusiasm for “draconian sanctions” against Russia and even some initiatives against China. However, the harshness of other measures sometimes shocked allies and opponents alike. These include the 6 April 2014 sanctions against a group of Russian businessmen and their assets, or bans on some Chinese telecommunications services in the United States, or sanctions blocking the International Criminal Court.
Second, Trump clearly ignored the views of US allies. The unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 forced European businesses to leave Iran, resulting in losses. Even some of the nation’s closest allies were annoyed. Another irritant was the tenacity with which Trump (with Congressional backing) threw a wrench in the wheels of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Despite the complicated relations between Moscow and the European Union, the latter defended the right to independently determine what was in its interests and what was not.
Third, concerns about sanctions have emerged among American business as well. Fears have grown in financial circles that the excessive use of sanctions will provoke the unnecessary politicisation of the global financial system. In the short term, a radical decline in the global role of the dollar is hardly possible. But political risks are forcing many governments to seriously consider it. Both rivals (Moscow and Beijing) and allies (Brussels) have begun to implement corresponding plans. Trade sanctions against China have affected a number of US companies in the telecommunications and high-tech sectors.
Finally, on some issues, the Trump administration has been inconsistent or simply made mistakes. For example, Trump enthusiastically criticised China for human rights violations, supporting relevant legislative initiatives. But at the same time, it almost closed its eyes to the events in Belarus in 2020. Congress was also extremely unhappy with the delay in the reaction on the “Navalny case” in Russia. As for mistakes, the past administration missed the moment for humanitarian exemptions for sanctions regimes in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic. Even cosmetic indulgences could have won points for US “soft power”. Instead, the US Treasury has published a list of pre-existing exceptions.
The preconditions for a revision of the sanctions policy arose even before Joe Biden came to power. First of all, a lot of analytical work was done by American think tanks—nongovernmental research centers. They provided a completely sober and unbiased analysis of bothха! achievements and mistakes. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office has done serious work; in 2019 it prepared two reports for Congress on the institutions of the American sanctions policy. However, Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election significantly accelerated the revision of the sanctions instruments. Both the ideological preferences of the Democrats (for example, the emphasis on human rights) and the political experience of Biden himself played a role.
The new guidelines for the US sanctions policy can be summarised as follows. First, the development of targeted sanctions and a more serious analysis of their economic costs for American business, as well as business from allied and partner countries. Second, closer coordination with allies. Here, Biden has already sent a number of encouraging signals by introducing temporary sanctions exemptions on Nord Stream 2. Although a number of Russian organisations and ships were included in the US sanctions lists, Nord Stream 2 itself and its leadership were not affected. Third, we are talking about closer attention to the subject of human rights. Biden has already reacted with sanctions both to the “Navalny case” and to the situation in Belarus. Human rights will be an irritant in relations with China. Fourth, the administration is working towards overturning Trump’s most controversial decisions. The 2020 decrees on Chinese telecoms were cancelled, the decree on sanctions against the International Criminal Court was cancelled, the decree on Chinese military-industrial companies was modified; negotiations are also underway with Iran.
The US Treasury, one of the key US sanctions agencies, will also undergo personnel updates. Elisabeth Rosenberg, a prominent sanctions expert who previously worked at the Center for a New American Security, may take the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary. She will oversee the subject of sanctions. Thus, the principle of “revolving doors”, which is familiar to Americans, is being implemented, when the civil service is replenished with personnel from the expert community and business, and then “returns” them back.
At the same time, the revision of the sanctions policy by the new administration cannot be called a revolution. The institutional arrangement will remain unchanged. It is a combination of the functions of various departments—the Treasury, the Department of Trade, the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. The experience of their interagency coordination has accumulated over the years. The system worked flawlessly both under Trump and under his predecessors. Rather, it will be about changing the political directives.
For Russia, the revision is unlikely to bring radical changes. A withdrawal from the carpet bombing of Russian business, such as the incident on 6 April 2018 hint that good news can be considered a possibility. However, the legal mechanisms of sanctions against Russia will continue to operate. The emphasis on human rights will lead to an increase in sanctions against government structures. Against this background, regular political crises are possible in relations between the two countries.
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