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Trump May Be Channeling Nixon And Kissinger On Russia

US President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)US President Donald Trump (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump may inadvertently be practicing a policy that leverages Russia and China against each other, former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns asserted to MSNBC Wednesday.

Triangular diplomacy was a policy used by former President Richard Nixon and former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, which leveraged China and the Soviet Union against each other to the benefit of the U.S.

Burns highlighted the Trump administration’s tough stance towards Russian President Vladimir Putin since an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Burns juxtaposed Trump’s policies with the “very soft, friendly, conciliatory line against China,” adding “I think Trump feels he’s got an opening with China and really not much business to do with Putin at this time.”

Trump’s apparent shift in warm rhetoric towards China and criticism of Russia was on full display with his Thursday tweets. Trump expressed “great confidence” in China and insinuated that Russia must “come to their senses” for peace to be achieved.

Trump also spoke glowingly of Chinese President Xi Jingping Wednesday while simultaneously distancing himself from Putin. ” I don’t know Putin, but I do know this gentleman,” Trump said of Xi. He continued, “President Xi wants to do the right thing.  We had a very good bonding.  I think we had a very good chemistry together.  I think he wants to help us with North Korea.”

“Right now, we’re not getting along with Russia at all.  We may be at an all-time low in terms of a relationship with Russia.  This has built for a long period of time.  But we’re going to see what happens,” Trump said of U.S. relations.

He also endorsed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow Wednesday who flatly declared his “view that the current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point and there is a low level of trust between our two countries,” in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump also faulted Russia with backing the Assad regime Wednesday and called its continuing support “disappointing.” Trump’s conciliatory rhetoric towards China and possible cooperation on North Korea could then attempt to show Russia the benefits of cooperating with the U.S. on Syria and NATO.

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Saagar Enjeti
the authorSaagar Enjeti
National Security/Foreign Policy Reporter

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