Today, June 12, 2018, President Donald Trump meets with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
This is good news. However, for U.S. national security what will be even more important is a Trump summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
When the prospect of such a meeting was recently floated in the media and by the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow Jon Huntsman the usual suspects went into convulsions. Critics claim the main beneficiary of any summit would be Putin since it would boost his popularity while America gains nothing.
Some say that only when Putin changes his behavior and begins acting like a civilized human being can he be treated to a photo opportunity with the American president.
But a U.S.-
The difference is that when Moscow does it we call it aggression. But when we do it, it is just a mistake.
At the same time more and more leading American and Russian experts believe that the probability of actual U.S.-Russiawar is growing; on a scale of 1 to 10, the majority gives it 5 to 7 chance. John Sawers, a former head of the British MI6 intelligence service, delivered a sober warning: "For the first time in living memory, there is a realistic prospect of a superpower conflict.”
That itself is reason to keep the lines of communication open at the very top, personal level. If FDR could meet with the USSR’s Stalin, Eisenhower with Khrushchev, Nixon with Brezhnev, Reagan with Gorbachev – not to mention earlier Putin summits with Bush and Obama – why should a summit with Trump be such an exception?
During a recent Q & A session Putin answered a question about the chances for the WWIII with a quote from the famous physicist Albert Einstein: "I don’t know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
At present a Trump-Putin summit carries a literal life-and-death urgency. There must be a clear understanding between the leaders of the two nuclear superpowers before some mishap somewhere results in unimaginable catastrophe for both countries and for the whole world.
The summit must happen – soon. Judging from their statements both presidents agree, and Austria has already offered to host the meeting in Vienna. A "politically incorrect” but logical prelude for the summit has been made by Trump, when he called for Russia’s readmission to the Group of Seven (G7), thus making it the G8 again.
In addition, there is a people’s diplomacy initiative in the form of a petition posted by American activists on the White House website, urging that the summit be held as soon as possible. Not only Americans and Russians but everyone on this planet should support this critical initiative intended to save the human civilization.
Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow, Professor of Moscow State and National Research Nuclear Universities. He is the author of the book "Operation Elbe”, which describes joint US – Russia anti-terrorist efforts.