by Diane Francis
"Geopolitically, the game’s the same. Many worry about Trump’s attitude toward Putin, but his promise to increase America’s military might, and to push NATO to do the same, is not good news for Vladimir Putin or Bashar al-Assad or other troublemakers.
It’s more interesting to speculate that Trump may have appealed to Putin’s vanity as a tactic to soften him up in advance of tough talk behind closed doors.
But many fear that’s not the case.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told the BBC this week “I’m very afraid and concerned about this period” that Putin may invade more countries to test NATO before Trump takes power.
There are other signals, however, that belie that hypothesis. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is a hardliner toward Russia, as is Senator John McCain. So is Mitt Romney, who is being rumored as a possible Secretary of State. “Putin is the number one geopolitical foe of America,” Romney has said.
Contrarians point out that Trump’s key security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, appears soft on Russia and even attended RT’s tenth anniversary gala dinner in Moscow last year. He sat next to the Russian president. But the military build-up, and Trump’s dismissal of Paul Manafort who worked for thieving oligarchs in the region, point to a different approach.
Trump criticism about NATO is about the fact that all but five of its members (US, Greece, Britain, Estonia, and Poland) have failed, like Canada, to live up to NATO’s 2 percent GDP guidelines."