This past Monday, US President Donald Trump held a bilateral summit with Russian premier Vladimir Putin, during which the leaders had a nearly two-hour-long closed-door meeting. At a news conference afterwards, the American president refused to condemn Putin for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. This was a move meant to defuse the situation back home in the US where the FBI is continuously expanding its investigation of Russian meddling in the election, causing much annoyance to Trump. Standing next to Putin, Trump declined to side with US intelligence on the issue, saying he doesn’t “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible. He also insisted that he ran a “clean campaign” and there was no collusion. Putin had earlier denied all allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. During the presser, Putin also handed Trump a soccer ball as a ceremonial gift in a highly undiplomatic manner and Donald Trump also responded in the same coin by throwing the ball to his son to counter the said gift with a message of his own. As Donald Trump threw the ball to his son Barron, he could be implying that he wants to maintain this relationship with Russia into the next generation. Putin proudly mentioned that he is a former intelligence officer and he knows his duties in dealing with the Mueller’s investigations. It seems as if Putin managed to score a point on Trump, which did not help in easing the tensions created as result of the FBI investigation. Like many other countries, the US did not abstain from intervening in the Syrian civil war. US’s military, financial and political support for the opposition has contributed directly to the intensification and continuation of the fighting, and turned Syria into a proxy battleground. On the other hand, Putin is backing the Bashar Al Assad government against Saudi Arabia, which is a key American ally Trump also offered an olive branch by holding both the US and Russia responsible for the mistakes made between the two nations, stating, “The United States has been acting foolish in dealing with Russia”. He further tried to bring Putin on board by saying: “I think we’ve all been foolish. I think we’re all to blame.” Acting fast, Putin disagreed with to Trump’s view of Russia being foolish. He went on to say that Russia will cooperate with the Mueller investigation, provided that the US cooperates with the pending matters relating to Russia. There are number of Russians in USA jails, one of them is the arms dealer Viktor Bout. Given that the USA Federal Authority is too strict to provide relief to any convict, it is unlikely that Trump will be able to help Russia here. Although there were rumours in 2016 about a deal under way between Russian and American authorities to exchange Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko for Viktor Bout. However, later the idea was scoffed at by US authorities. The game Donald Trump has been playing reminds one a lot of Pakistani politicians, who are always ready to blame the previous government for their own failings. Trump throws around negative remarks about the Democrats and other American institutions in a very similar manner. His comments about Russia and the Mueller investigation also made it look like he was fighting his own domestic battles on foreign soil. Critics were quick to bash Trump’s performance at the summit, saying Putin outsmarted him in and got away with offering no help in the ongoing investigations. It’s a shame, we’re talking about nuclear proliferation and Syria, and humanitarian aid, and we get question on the witch hunt,” Trump complained. “I don’t think the people in the country buy it, but the reporters like to give it a shot.” Here he was blaming the American media for his increasingly negative image. With some of his recent Tweets, Trump has nullified decades of American administrative policies on Russia, calling it mere foolishness and stupidity on part of the US government. As such perhaps we should have a look at the history of the fluctuating US-Russian relationship. Most Russians today consider the US their rival, even their main enemy. Many Americans also have a suspicious view of Russia’s political leadership for many reasons. Yet, despite having been at loggerheads for most of post-World War II history, the two countries never went to war with each other. The US expects all nations either to be subservient or risk being considered an enemy. There is not a single US ally that has managed to stand as a political equal to them. Russia is not the kind of country that would take kindly to such treatment. The rivalry between the two countries eventually resulted in the Afghan Jihad, which lasted from December 1979 to February 1989. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and installed a puppet government, the US intervened with help from Pakistan. The Mujahideen were trained to fight the Red Army, eventually forcing the Russians out in 1989. The CIA spent 5 to 6 billion dollars on its operation in Afghanistan. When it was all over, a million Afghans were either dead or living in Pakistan as refugees. This game created the seemingly unstoppable terrorist hydra active in the region now. The US re-entered Afghanistan after 9/11, ironically because it was a safe haven for terrorists. This has been the longest war in US history, and there is still no end in sight. As a presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump questioned the continued US involvement in Afghanistan, Tweeting “Let’s get out!” because of the “waste of blood and treasure.” As president, however, Trump is imitating his predecessors. In August, he approved the deployment of several thousand more troops into Afghanistan, where 8,500 are already stationed. It is likely the US will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. However, Trump has accepted this useless war was a foolish mistake made by a previous president. He would not mind an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, as it would put his name in the history books. I just wish when he spoke to Putin about American mistakes he would have mentioned the mistakes the US has made in Afghanistan during and after the Cold War. Like many other countries, the US did not abstain from intervening in the Syrian civil war. US’s military, financial and political support for the opposition has contributed directly to the intensification and continuation of the fighting, and turned Syria into a proxy battleground. On the other hand, Putin is backing the Bashar Al Assad government against Saudi Arabia, which is a key American ally. The US President’s extraordinary news conference with Putin stunned Republicans across the ideological spectrum and the party’s political apparatus after he undermined his national intelligence director and blamed both the US and Russia for poor relations between the two countries. Moreover, he agreed to Putin’s suggestion that Robert S Mueller III, the special counsel, cooperate with Russia. The question is, was this meeting arranged to convince Putin to help Trump? If it was, apparently Putin has declined and linked any future developments with matters concerning Russia. I think USA needs to revisit its policies both in Middle East and South Asia. Donald Trump can still ensure history remembers him in a positive light by rectifying past mistakes and withdrawing US troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan, leaving the world at peace. I expect Donald Trump to withdraw American Army from Afghanistan instead of repeating past foolish mistakes and wasting billions of dollars on Afghan soil. The writer is a Senator, Chairman of think tank ‘global eye’and former Interior Minister of Pakistan Published in Daily Times, July 20th 2018.