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The Art of Foreign Policy: Russian Election Interference, Syria Intervention, Colombia Peace Treaty

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.

Developments in this year’s presidential race continue at breakneck pace.

This week, GOP House Speaker and Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan said he will no longer campaign for or defend Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump. Trump has gone on the attack not just against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, but also against Republicans, such as Ryan and Arizona Senator John McCain. 

Meanwhile, NPR’s Brian Naylor reported yesterday that it appears Donald Trump was quoting a Russian propaganda piece taken from a WikiLeaks document dump that misinterpreted an email hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

Russia has played a role in this campaign season with some accusing them of being the source behind the various Wikileaks document dumps. Foreign policy contributor Art Cyr says this isn't the first time that Russia has become involved with American presidential races.

Cyr believes that Trump fits a convenient narrative for Russian President Putin, who has spoken rather favorably of the Republican nominee. 

"[Trump] plays to the worst stereotypes that many people overseas have of the U.S.," he says. "Also, I think he would be an easier leader to deal with because he's so uninformed and frankly, inept."

Cyr believes there are many reasons Putin might welcome a Trump presidency. "Putin is more aware than most people of the strong conflicts of interests, of national interests, between the U.S. and Russia. And that's the way he looks at the world, and that's the way a leader, including the President of the United States, should look at the world," he says. 

And while the war in Syria has been a major talking point for both Trump and Clinton, Cyr contends that the international conflict should be of little interest to the United States. 

"We have no national interest in Syria; they're not a great oil producer," he says. "We do have an interest in limiting and if possible, obliterating, ISIS. But I think we are very wise not to get directly involved on the ground. I think that could only be counterproductive." 

Meanwhile in Colombia, a peace accord between the FARC and the Colombian government was defeated in a referendum. The FARC is a revolutionary group that has been launching a guerilla movement against the Colombian government since 1964. 

"It's partly communist insurgency, partly enormous drug production and selling operation," explains Cyr. He remains optimistic that despite the vote, tensions will ease between the government and the guerilla group. "The FARC has indicated they're going to abide by the cease-fire, and I think that's what's really important."

Arthur I. Cyr is Director of the Clausen Center for World Business and Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College in Kenosha. Previously he was President of the Chicago World Trade Center, the Vice President of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, a faculty member and executive at UCLA, and an executive at the Ford Foundation. His publications include the book After the Cold War - American Foreign Policy, Europe and Asia (Macmillan and NYU Press).