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Donald Trump

Cold war mentality should have no place in US relations

US President Donald Trump must be aware that such a mindset, if allowed to take root and spread, could well have dire consequences for global stability and prosperity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 7:58am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 7:58am

The world’s powers should be working together to solve problems and challenges. But rivalry and mistrust have caused divisions that were apparent with the re-election to new terms of President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

They were quick to congratulate one another and pledge to strengthen the partnership between their governments, but accolades have been scant from the West and its allies.

There is no better evidence of a cold war mindset that, if allowed to take root and spread, could well have dire consequences for global stability and prosperity.

US President Donald Trump has not taken that into account as he strives to deliver election pledges to voters, among them “making America great again”.

He has instead taken the opposite approach towards China and Russia, naming them his country’s biggest rivals and threats.

Still, he has in the past expressed admiration for both Xi and Putin and even claims to have a friendly relationship with the Chinese leader.

But he has so far failed to congratulate Xi and, highlighting a contradiction in his administration’s stance towards Russia, he phoned Putin to praise him for gaining another term, just days after the United States imposed new sanctions on the country for claimed election interference and cyberattacks.

But Trump’s threats, trade measures and provocations through the sailing of naval vessels near Chinese installations in the South China Sea will not make the US great again.

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Instead, his country will have more to lose than gain by bringing back the “them and us” mentality that was a hallmark of the cold war between the US and Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union.

This time, though, it is China that is the perceived rival through its rising economic and military strength.

Xi has repeatedly tried to allay concerns, promising that China’s rise is no threat to the world; he said in closing remarks at the National people’s Congress on Tuesday that “only those who are used to threatening others will see others as a threat to them”.

China and Russia were once suspicious of one another, but have mended fences. There are good reasons for greater cooperation, with their economies being complementary and both at crucial stages of their development.

But also drawing them together is a sense of growing hostility from the West, highlighted by how governments responded to the re-election of their presidents.

The risk of another cold war cannot be discounted. Winner-takes-all thinking can only lead to confrontation.

Working together for the common good through mutual respect and cooperation, the approach adopted by Beijing and Moscow, is how Trump’s administration should handle its foreign relations.