Vladimir Putin’s sabre rattling in his presidential address was intended to tempt Donald Trump into acting he has with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, another intractably hostile leader with whom the US president could nonetheless demonstrate his unique peacemaking skills that are so impressive to his base, Igor Eidman says.
In this, the Russian commentator says, Putin is taking a page out of the North Korean’s playbook, acting on the assumption that the more hostile he sounds and behaves the more Trump will want to find a way to come to him and announce some grand bargain no one thought possible.
Despite his tough talk, Putin does not have and will not acquire any wonder weapons capable of bringing the US to its knees. Neither did or does Comrade Kim. But both men by their threatening talk and behavior are playing to an aspect of Trump’s personality that many ignore: the desire of the US president to do the unexpected and present himself as unique.
The North Korean dictator has succeeded beyond anything he might have expected. He has even drawn praise from Trump who says that under Kim’s leadership, his country will become “a great economic locomotive. He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me because I know him and completely understand what he is capable of.”
According to Eidman, “Trump cannot but understand that he is dealing with a bold blackmailer” in Kim’s case. But he wants to turn the tables on him by acting in an unexpected way and showing himself to be the great peacemaker. It isn’t important to Trump that Kim continues to pursue things that he has promised not to.
What matters to the US leader, the Russian sociologist says, is that he puts himself in a position where he appears to be acting in ways no one else would or could.
Putin is clearly following this case closely and equally clearly, Eidman says, calculating that he can play the same role Kim has and prompt Trump to follow suit. In the Kremlin leader’s view, Trump would be delighted to “play the role of peacemaker with Russia” and thus become “the savior of the US from nuclear apocalypse.”
And the Kremlin leader is probably especially impressed by the North Korean model for yet another reason: Kim hasn’t changed his policies whatever he announces he has agreed to with Trump. Putin almost certainly would behave in exactly the same way and expect to get away with it, at least with this US president.
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