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Dancing the Prisyadka: Trump's Unique Approach to International Relations

By Cameron Gordon Ed. Joel Lindsay

A while ago I debated on the topic “Will Donald Trump Make Australia Great Again?” on the negative side. We won by a wash – it was a fun debate, but with the audience conclusion already in place before the debaters first spoke. But just for fun let’s think about the rare situation in which Donald Trump could lead to a benefit for society. His time already spent in office has not been kind to this possibility, so let’s humour the argument. The two presidents that Donald Trump has been most closely compared to are Nixon (with all of the clandestine, treasonous tomfoolery of Watergate), and Ronald Reagan – the offbeat and unconventional actor turned politician. One of the things these two Republican presidents had in common is that they each managed to oversea a détente with two hitherto irreconcilable opponents in world politics. These are: the Nixon-led rapprochement with China in 1972 (leading to normalized relations with the PRC), and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 during the reign of Reagan. Currently there are three main areas of sustained state political hostility to the US: North Korea, Russia, and Iran. Obama led his own rapprochement in Iran, overseeing the fall of nuclear trade sanctions; a warming of relations either north of the 38th parallel or somewhere just a little colder than Kiev would be a significant political achievement for Trump.

Trump’s willingness to depart from protocol is an asset even as it is a weakness. The Chinese rapprochement was supported by unconventional and under-the-counter dealings, including proxy communications through the leaders of Romania and Pakistan, and a secret trip made by Henry Kissinger to Beijing. Were a similar coup to be even partially achieved with the Hermit Kingdom it would be nothing short of a miracle. Equally, questions of whether trump is susceptible to being blackmailed with raunchy photos of him dancing the prisyadka aside, closer Russia- US tie wouldn’t be the worst possible state of the world. To be clear, I don’t expect this to be the case. But it’s fun to imagine the existence of reason that underpins the madness in which the most powerful man in the world bumbles along to his unique version of political drunken fist. 4D chess indeed.

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