Every time Trump says something controversial, we all hold our breaths and think this is it… this is what will turn the Republican establishment against him. The two biggest statements that come to mind are: “[John McCain] was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” and a Hollywood Access tape I don’t even need to get into.
Yet it is not these statements that are the most divisive amongst Republicans. Trump has finally done something controversial enough to inspire proposals for congressional committees by GOP leaders. They are statements Trump has made about a country over 5,000 miles away: Russia. More specifically, the GOP is disunited over Trump’s openness to working with the Russian government. If this is the idea that is outrageous enough to spark division amongst Congressional Republicans, then there are some real ideological and logistical problems to a U.S.-Russian partnership.
First, to understand why a U.S.-Russia partnership is naïve, you have to understand Russia’s fundamental difference from the United States. I’m not talking about trade deals or global teams. I mean the overarching sentiments of each country’s citizens towards their government. This is important because the way that citizens view their government affects how that government operates. Even true authoritarian regimes pay attention to citizen’s sentiments. No one wants an uprising.
The United States places a huge emphasis on the individual: our individual right to carry a gun, to make our own fortune, to be politically active. Russia takes the exact opposite approach. A strong state is more important than an individual’s pursuit. If it means betterment for Russia, then the Russian people are more likely to give up some rights that Americans would frantically protest over. Russian collectivism is such a fundamental antithesis to American individualism that our countries could never operate as a unit. Because these differences run so deep and are so ingrained in the psyches of Americans and Russians, a partnership between the two countries seems bleak.
I’ll admit that there’s at least one thing Russia and the U.S. have in common. They are two countries whose powers expand beyond their borders. They have their hands in countries all around the world, from China to Syria to the Ukraine and on and on. Yet it is what they are doing with these hands that prevent a partnership from ever forming.
Fighting ISIS in Syria is a prime example of the disparities between Russia and the US. Trump has explicitly suggested that the two nations work together on this front. Tis could never work. For one, Russia backs the Assad regime, a regime the majority of the international community agrees used chemical weapons against its own people. If Trump really wants to fight ISIS, he should take a look at Russia’s true motivation of being in Syria. It’s much more likely that Russia wants a spot in the Middle East to build armed military bases, rather than to fight ISIS. Further, the steps it would take to form a joint U.S.-Russian military presence would require sharing expensive intel. Russia spies on the U.S., and the U.S. spies on Russia. It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to hand over intel that the U.S. spends millions to protect from Russia in the first place.
And what’s talk on the Middle East and Russia without mentioning Iran? Iran is one of Russia’s most important Middle Eastern allies. Yet Iran isn’t as friendly with the U.S. Here’s something Iran’s president actually said in 2012: “Saying ‘Death to America’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action.” To think Iran wouldn’t be a problem in a potential U.S.-Russia partnership is incredibly shortsighted.
I get it, Trump. At first glance, Russia might not seem much different from us. Putin openly condemns ISIS. He helped you out in the elect– I mean, allegedly helped you in the election. But to everyone who thinks that a U.S.-Russian alliance is a feasible option, listen to the GOP backlash. Above all else, listen to logic.