The Putin-Trump Summit: In Helsinki, Three Worldviews Will Clash

17 Jul 2018

(National Interest) The upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki has generated a storm of warnings about the possible collusion between two presidents intent on crushing the existing international system, on the one hand, and the rest of the international community—the collective West first and foremost—that built that system and is trying to preserve it.

This view, although attractive and popular, is, unfortunately, inaccurate. Donald Trump is, indeed, a consummate Realist. He has little use for international institutions and is not averse to dismantling them in pursuit of short-term goals. Vladimir Putin, in contrast, can be classified as “conservative institutionalist” who values international institutions as they emerged by the end of the Cold War and the traditional tenets of international law. Their opponents should more correctly be characterized as “democratic institutionalists” who seek to quickly remedy drawbacks of traditional international law and develop new institutions by using the rule of majority in roughly the same way it works in domestic politics. [...]

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