Putin doesn’t care whether the U.S. standing army exceeds half a million or not, or whether the U.S. Navy has more ships. Even during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was a much bigger country than today’s Russia, it couldn’t outspend the U.S. on defense. Today, the U.S. military vastly outnumbers the Russian one, and once other North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries are added in, Russia is dwarfed, frankly.
…Trump is doing roughly what Clinton intended to do to defeat Islamic State. He intensified the U.S. air campaign and stepped up support for rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. …Clinton, who established herself as a Syria hawk, likely would have acted along the same lines.
…The biggest question is whether Putin prefers the chaos, unpredictability and amateurishness of Trump’s administration or the predictable, unimaginative formulas and cliches Clinton offered during her campaign and probably would have stuck to as president.
…At some point, even laughing at the panic of U.S. political elites, as Putin’s circle has been doing for months, can get pointlessly repetitive. If Putin is learning anything from the chain of events following Trump’s election, it’s probably a deepening conviction that he can’t get any traction with the U.S. because its institutions are inherently hostile toward someone like him.