Donald Trump cannot be friends with everybody

Donald+Trump+speaks+at+a+2011+conservative+political+conference.

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump speaks at a 2011 conservative political conference.

Proxy wars seem like something you’d study in your sophomore World History class; from a historical lens, it seems so obvious when countries are being used to fight other people’s wars. The mess that constitutes Syria at the moment is actually a proxy war between the United States and Russia, so things aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows between the nations. President Elect Donald Trump has a goal of improved relations, something that is, really, less than admirable.

The most complicated U.S.-Russian relations occur in the Middle East; all of the names thrown around when discussing the Syrian Civil War and the fight against ISIS can get very confusing, very fast, and both countries are heavily involved in all sides of the fight. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a dark reputation, with evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity building against him every day. These accusations began after an insurgence rose up against him in 2011, and Russia allied itself with Assad against these rebels. The United States is fighting with the rebels against Assad and Russia, yet all three are united in the fight against ISIS. Russia has chosen to ally itself with a dangerous and oppressive regime, and we simply cannot try to strengthen economic or diplomatic ties with Russia as a result. If we did, we would be rewarding them for, essentially, encouraging a government that runs on fear and guns.

The growing relationship between Trump and Putin cannot be ignored.”

I started writing this editorial before Donald Trump became president-elect, and man, that really changes things. I would like to write about what we should do in a sort of pseudo-utopia where everyone agrees that Russia needs to face consequences for the terrible things it has done, but the growing relationship between Trump and Putin cannot be ignored. On Nov. 14, the two men held a phone call focused on mending relations between Russia and America. On the surface, this seems alright. Building relations with the world’s largest nuclear weapons holder seems smart, but Russia stands against everything considered an “American value,” even Donald Trump’s values of brutal honesty, patriotism, and winning.

Russia has been willing to lie about events like the Olympics, in a massive doping scandal, revealing a clear disregard for honesty on an international stage. In addition, Trump’s spirit of honesty prompts him towards extreme transparency (sometimes), and you can’t get much further from that ideal than state censorship of media, and Russia’s Roskomnadzor has been under world scrutiny for excessive censorship at the direction of the Kremlin. Admittedly, Russian ideals of patriotism mirror Trump’s, as does its strong emphasis on winning at everything, however, Russia has gotten those values through dubious avenues. A regime built upon fear of speaking against those in power, and relentless warfare, is not ideal.

Even with the imminent power shift in America, its stance on Russia cannot be allowed to change. Russia has allied itself with a civil rights violator (guilty by association, anyone?) when America has gotten the reputation, of being a protector of the free world. Even though Trump wants to strengthen relations with Russia, the two countries’ values still stand in intense opposition, something that cannot just be glossed over. Putin and his Russia cannot be allowed to gain even more power than the dangerous level they currently hold. He is an immoral, oppressive, untrustworthy man, dragging his country down with him, and America simply must not legitimize that regime, must not improve relations with Russia.