By Kaleb Mccague
Within the last two months, President Trump has held a summit with Kim Jong Un and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While many on both ends of the political spectrum have been hesitant to call these summits successes, there is no doubt in my mind that President Trump is dedicated to world peace and is pursuing an agenda that is purely “peace through strength.” Trump’s summit with President Putin definitely yielded a larger field of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, including Republicans who have backed the president since day one, as Trump would not definitively condemn Putin to his face for the alleged tampering with the 2016 election, but why should Trump risk our relationship with Russia, already tattered and barely hanging on, with an ongoing and not yet conclusive investigation?
Russia is not yet ready to engage fully on the world stage as Putin continues his fantasy of bringing back the glory of the Soviet Union, stomping on human rights, and holding rigged and non-democratic elections. There is work that can be done with Russia but slamming the world’s largest nuclear state is not going to work. As we have seen with states that become isolated and desperate, their leaders are willing to take risky and potentially dangerous actions to pursue better conditions for their people. We cannot put Russia back into a Cold War state and expect Russia to ever succeed or even be neutral on the world stage.
With North Korea, Trump has been strong and sometimes threatening as he promised “fire and fury” to North Korea last year if the missile tests continued, but Kim Jong Un still agreed to meet Trump in June and has since honored the deal made by the two leaders. North Korea has a longer way to go than Russia, but again squandering and isolating a nuclear state is not a smart and feasible solution, as North Korean leaders have been notorious for holding nuclear tests and acting irrationally at every turn, something the world should be very concerned about.
Both North Korea and Russia have been met at every turn with sanctions and condemnations from the international community which have pushed both countries into isolation, a recipe for disaster when dealing with states that possess nuclear weapons. It may be hard to imagine that the most bombastic and divisive president within memory could be the broker of successful peace negotiations, but it is happening. President Trump has decided to let diplomacy and a chance at peace be the new way forward. As the president said in Helsinki, “I would rather take a political risk in the pursuit of peace, than to risk peace in the pursuit of politics.”