Trump will own Putin in negotiations

Friday’s face-to-face meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably exceed the James Comey hearings in terms of public and political interest.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster has said, “We’re engaged in wide-ranging discussions about irritants and problems in the relationship and areas to explore common interests and opportunities.”

He went on to say that our goal is to see if we can stabilize the relationship and identify areas of mutual interest.

In this respect, all Americans and citizens of the world should hope for its success.

Despite McMaster’s statement and the high global stakes, Washington insiders are beside themselves that Trump may sit down with Putin without a specific agenda. Most of these critics have never led a serious negotiation themselves but find any excuse to criticize our commander in chief.


To be sure, Trump will have the upper hand when the two leaders meet. Not only does Trump bring to the table his decades of negotiation experience, but he can also draw on the lessons learned by his predecessors.

That is to say. he won't make the mistake of "looking into Putin's soul" and he won't believe a trendy call for a "reset" will work. Instead, he starts with the sober knowledge that Russia hacked our last elections, illegally annexed Crimea, hasn't been helpful in North Korea and continues to contribute to the slaughter and displacement of millions of innocent people in Syria.

Trump knows Russia needs us more than we need it. While our economy is rebounding, unemployment is decreasing, housing is strong and the stock market is at an all-time high, Russia has been in recession since 2015.

Russia's GDP is $3.7 trillion.

Ours is $18 trillion.

Its five-year growth has been an anemic 1 percent, and with oil and gas prices at historic lows, it's not likely this is going to turn around any time soon. Furthermore, U.S.-imposed sanctions further cripple Rusia's hope of an economic revival.

Internationally, Russia wants to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But this got derailed with the country's intrusion into Ukraine. Indeed, Trump has already referenced this in Poland.

Additionally, Russia has now been bogged down in Syria since 2011. Such perpetual war is in no one’s interest — Russia has more at stake in Syria than we do.

Meanwhile, Trump is calling NATO nations to increase their military spending and he’s meeting with former Eastern bloc nations underscoring our commitment to them.

Finally, Vladimir Putin knows Donald Trump isn’t Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices Which Democrat can beat Trump? Middle East scholars blame Trump for an Iran policy 40 years in the making MORE. Instead of talking about a red line in Syria, President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE sent 59 Tomahawk missiles as a calling card.

A few weeks later, he dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb America owns on ISIS fighters in Afghanistan. And rather than let politically correct European peer pressure him to sign a climate deal that exempted China, Trump said “No thanks. America first.”

All this gives President Trump the advantage. It’s Putin who needs to make a deal.

What will he give up to make one?

In which area does he seek relief?

Will we bend on sanctions?

Are we going to bomb Russian backed Syria troops again?

Can we cut a deal in Crimea?

What punishment will we impose for election meddling? Is NATO going to be expanded?

Yes, he has an agenda and his hat in hand.

As an experienced negotiator, President Trump knows this: Find out what the other guy wants and see what he’s willing to give up to get it. Then the advantage is yours and you’re the one who can make the deal.

Meanwhile, his critics are like the fans in the football stadium that have never played football yet want to tell the coach what play to call.

They should be treated as such and ignored.

Jack Kingston is a former Republican congressman for Georgia’s 1st District and former adviser to President Trump’s campaign. He currently serves as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party Foundation and is a principal at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. Follow him on Twitter @JackKingston

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