“Rex Tillerson seems to be open to the idea of Washington treating Moscow like a fellow inhabitant of the planet whose opinion deserves to be considered [and] considered seriously, which would be a good thing,” Armstrong stated Tuesday.
He said the first step toward a better foreign policy for the United States would be an acknowledgment of reality, while the second would be to admit failure.
“Trump seems to be there already [in saying he wants] to pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. Well, one of the ‘mistakes of the past’ is Washington's Russia policy,” Armstrong asserted.
He predicted that if Trump and his foreign-policy team are able to stabilize relations between Washington and Moscow, many other pressing US security concerns could be resolved.
“Seriously, if Trump can get the Russia-US relationship right – and that requires a serious consideration of, respect for and listening to Moscow's point of view – then a lot of the United States' other international entanglements would sort themselves out pretty quickly,” he explained.
Trump wants to extricate the United States from unnecessary conflicts in order to concentrate on his chief purpose of improving the nation’s economy, Armstrong argued.
“Then, with a quieter world out there, Trump could concentrate on his real purpose of getting the USA working again,” he said.
In Armstrong’s view, Trump shares priorities with President Vladimir Putin, who also is seeking the freedom to focus on improving Russians’ standard of living and to revive domestic industries.
Trump and Putin “have a common aim, which is getting their countries sorted out. [They] have common problems, although Putin is a couple of decades ahead on the realization curve – unemployment, loss of manufacturing capacity, failing wars, general disaffection,” he said.
The ability to spend political capital on work aimed at meeting domestic priorities is a mutual goal for the two leaders, Armstrong added.
“They are both in the same business as it happens: making America/Russia great (for their citizens) again. None of this ‘greatness’ involves blowing up people around the globe for random reasons, which the USA has been doing quite a lot of this century,” he remarked.
Until his retirement, Armstrong was a Canadian diplomat specializing on the Soviet Union and Russia. He once served as political counselor at Canada’s embassy in Moscow.