July 27, 2017
Only Donald Trump stands between the US Congress and global opposition to new sanctions.
Newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has suggested that Donald Trump may veto the fresh round of sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea which will likely soon be on his desk after the House of Representatives passed the measures with a majority of 419-3.
The measures against Russia have become increasingly loathed in the European Union with Germany’s Finance Minister Brigitte Zypries warning that European counter-sanctions against the United States may be possible if the measures are signed into US law.
European countries and the EU itself are resolutely opposed to the new measures as they would hit European companies which are currently working with Russia on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to the EU.
Many US companies including oil giant Exxon are also opposed to the measures.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also offered his most strongly worded criticism of the proposed new round of sanctions, saying the following,
“…it (the sanctions being impliment) will be particularly regrettable because this would be an act of aggravation and exceptional cynicism.
It’s an obvious attempt (by the US) to use its geopolitical advantages in the competitive struggle with the goal of ensuring its economic interests at the expense of its other allies”.
Putin stated that the sanctions could tear apart the fabric of existing alliances, this of course is a reference to Europe’s reliance on Russia and America’s longstanding alliance with the European Union and its leading member states.
President Putin continued,
“We, as you know, are behaving with restraint, very patiently, but at some point we will have to respond, it is impossible to tolerate arrogance toward our country forever”.
The only hope for the sanctions not going through would be if Donald Trump were to veto the move and then strongly admonish and/or placate the Republican controlled US Congress so that they do not override a Presidential veto with a Congressional super-majority.
This was hinted at earlier today when Anthony Scaramucci said the following,
“He may decide to veto the sanctions and be tougher on the Russians than the Congress. He may not veto the sanctions: he may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians”.
This statement indicates that if Trump does veto the sanctions, he may try and persuade Congress to refrain from overriding the veto with a future promise of a ‘tougher measure’.
This may well be ‘Trump talk’ implying that there will be more militant rhetoric from the White House on the issue to placate the overtly Russophobic Congress, but that the ‘problem’ which does not really exist, might be solved by Donald Trump himself after a period of ‘negotiations’ with Russia.
Could this be an elegant way for Donald Trump to avert disaster on several fronts? The clearly logical answer is yes. As things stand, if sanctions pass, the work Donald Trump did to create an atmosphere of detente with Vladimir Putin at the G20 would be undone, many US business would be deeply displeased and America could turn the EU from a friendly body into one which asserts its authority in an anti-American direction in spite of having a similar foreign policy position.
The United States is desperately in need of a rational, pragmatic deal maker at a time when Congress is dominated by ideologues on both sides of the aisle. If Trump is as good a deal maker as he says he is, this is the time to show it.