Russia, of course, is different. But the analogy of the Art of the Deal is still relevant and why should Trump give up on his campaign vision of closer ties with the Russian president without ever testing it? The Russophobes are hard-pressed to find an answer. Thus, it is a fait accompli that as a US president who embraces personal diplomacy with America’s adversaries as his trademark in foreign policy, Trump’s forthcoming summit with Putin becomes a perfect next act.
Did Trump work towards this? The point is, he’s an inscrutable politician. It wasn’t mere coincidence that just before leaving for the recent G-7 summit in Canada, he would think up the unthinkable – Russia’s return to the grouping. The seemingly stray thought actually gets bracketed with his move to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the vital underpinning of President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot-to-Asia’ strategy (without which a containment strategy against China lacks gravitas).
The common thread is that Trump’s Art of the Deal means putting the focus on America’s interests rather than on the negating of adversaries’ legitimate interests or concerns – be it North Korea or Russia. Of course, if there is an uncomfortable overlap, a deal becomes necessary and Trump believes in his ability to negotiate it.