Trump: indiscretions or calculated game?
Explicit and hidden contradictions do not prevent the US and Russia from holding consultations on the acute issues for both countries. For example, on the issue of the presence of Iranian forces in Syria. According to the statement of US presidential adviser John Bolton, he held a private meeting with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva. "All Iranian forces must leave Syria and return home to Iran. I think the same opinion is shared by Russian President Vladimir Putin ... One way to achieve this goal is to continue maximum pressure on the Iranian authorities," John Bolton said.
Let us leave the assumptions of the adviser to the US president about the position of Vladimir Putin down on him. Perhaps, Moscow does not really like the presence of Iranian forces in Syria, but there are definitely forces, the presence and actions of which in the region Moscow does not like even more.
Also, the proposal of the American side to continue and increase the pressure on Tehran looks absurd. A reasonable question arises - why should Moscow do this when it is itself under the US-European sanctions, while Iran in this historical period certainly is not considered as an enemy? And why did Washington suddenly decide that Moscow would be pleased with this proposal and harness itself to the ‘American two-man bob’ to exert pressure on the Iranian leadership?
Interpreting the American move, one can try to find the meaning in several directions.
The first. Despite the introduction of new sanctions against the Russian Federation, the tightening of anti-Russian rhetoric, etc., Washington is still not inclined to drive the Russian economy into the corner and, while avoiding embarrassment, proposes to enter the co-operation phase by searching for a common enemy and punishing him. Moreover, the anti-Russian sanctions do not yet yield results expected by Washington.
The second. The EU is unequivocally dissatisfied with the actions of its overseas partner. The leaders of the Old World - France and Germany - are also far from delighted with Moscow’s policy. But they came to the conclusion that in the sanctions war against Russia, they lose no less, and unlike the US, they cannot afford this. The US demand to join the new anti-Iran sanctions is irritating Europeans past the limits of their endurance since they believe that Tehran fulfills all the conditions of the nuclear deal.
The first 18 million euros allocated by the European Commission to Iran within the framework of the 50-million tranche for the implementation of economic and social development projects, of which 8 million are for the private sector, are not so much a real help to the huge Islamic Republic of Iran, but a demonstration of the EU's firm intentions. The accompanying statement reads that the EU will support Iran while the country is committed to the ‘full and effective’ compliance with the nuclear deal agreements, part of which is the lifting of sanctions.
The third. The position on Iran has aggravated the already difficult relations between the United States and the United Nations. Washington once again threatened the worldwide institution to cut the funding if the UN's position will differ from the US position on this or that issue. What is involved here is Iran once again, as the UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures on rights and freedoms Idriss Jazairy called the sanctions against Iran illegal, as they undermine the economy of the Iranian state, negatively affect the lives of civilians and do not lead to the expected actions on the part of the Iranian authorities.
The fourth. The US actions, or Donald Trump’s actions directed against Russia, Iran, etc. impact the interests of the interstate alliances - the WTO, the UN, the EU and even NATO. Thus, the United States puts itself in a certain ‘self-isolation’ position. For a powerful country, however, this is more about the image loss than some practical one. But this is not for long. The reputational costs have never strengthened someone’s positions. Therefore, Washington is searching for the situational allies. For example, the EU against Russia or Turkey, Russia against China or Iran, the Arab countries against Iran, etc.
The fifth. Donald Trump needs success. The success, which would reduce the wave of internal criticism. The US economy under Tramp has begun to come out of lethargy and demonstrates decent figures, even such a dead man as Detroit has started stirring and giving signs of life. But Trump is beaten both by Democrats and his own supporters - Republicans. The internal criticism of his foreign policy is even tougher. Whatever the American president has done, it turns out that everything is wrong. Especially the talks with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki - they are regarded in America as defeatist or even infamous for Washington. Therefore, Trump needs actions that can lead him to noticeable success and bring down the intensity of internal rejection. And he seems to be willing to pay generously. Even if it means scrapping something that is too familiar to the international community without signs of an attractive alternative to what he is ready to put in the dustbin of history.