“Today, Russia reminds the Left of the loss of their Soviet benefactor. Also, Russia’s abandonment of communism has automatically made it an enemy to the global left. Russia under Putin has reverted to its historical norms, in terms of governing. (This is not necessarily a good thing, because Russia was always a tough nut to crack for the Western powers — though it is still better than the communist system).”
“Liberalism as we understand it dominates only Western countries. Russia is not a Western country. Western Leftists hate Russia because it stubbornly refuses to bend to their will and embrace their preferred theories. Instead of insisting on internal change within Russia, the United States should make a deal with Russia over our shared interests but forego any hopes of fundamentally changing the nature of that country. Russia is simply too torn between the centrifugal forces of Western liberalism and Eastern autocracy. Therefore, Washington should lower its expectations—and its demands—and work realistically toward achieving a modicum of peace.”
“Continuing to obsess over Europe, or further enmeshing the ailing Russian Federation into the tribal politics of the Middle East, is not in Moscow’s long-term strategic interests.
Washington must recognize this reality and create more amicable relations with Moscow. If it can, then Putin will complete his securitization of Russia’s troubled periphery. A lasting entente between the United States, Europe, and Russia would help to stabilize Russia’s western periphery. Together with the United States (and Israel), the Russians could pulverize the remaining terrorist strongholds in the Muslim world that buttresses Russia’s south. Then Russia could fully focus on complicating Chinese grand strategy by reinvigorating its position in the Far East.”
“Thus, NATO’s post-Cold War mission is confusing and pointless. Moreover, support for NATO from its own members is pathetic. And, Europe’s behavior toward the United States regarding Washington’s disproportionate support for NATO is both unfair and unethical. This is especially true, when NATO’s own policies are creating the very threats it claims to be defending against!”
“Putin’s hand is remarkably weak—and he knows it. Ultimately, Putin needs a deal more than Trump does, though there is no denying that a deal will be good for the United States, too. Whatever bluster Putin may exhibit in public, if Trump grants Putin the simple kindness that international law insists all world leaders be granted by fellow world leaders—legitimacy—then the Russo-American relationship will stabilize.”
“But, because George H.W. Bush was more concerned with playing petty politics based on short-term assumptions, rather than acting boldly and taking the licks for his decisions. Even his actions in Desert Storm were indecisive, which created many more problems for the United States in the long-run than there otherwise would have been. This is why George H.W. Bush’s presidency was an unmitigated failure (to say nothing of his domestic failures).”
“Thomas Aquinas once said, ‘if the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would leave it in port forever.’ This more than anything seems to represent the dominant mindset among America’s foreign policy elite. While Aquinas was a wise and quotable man, I find the concept of viewing American foreign policy as a ship with limits meant to be tested–even if it destroys the ship–to be very frightening (and irresponsible). Rather than captaining a ship in dangerous waters, I prefer to look at foreign policy as a medical doctor looks at healing a patient. The first duty of a medical doctor is to uphold the Hippocratic oath. That oath, which all doctors are required to swear fealty to, simply states, ‘First, do no harm.’ American foreign policy practitioners need to live by the Hippocratic oath as well. Imagine what the world would look like toady if the emergency men who populated the George W. Bush Administration lived according to the Hippocratic oath.”
“Since the United States has reaffirmed its strength in Putin’s eyes, the White House should pivot and offer Putin a gracious way of saving face with his people. If the Trump Administration fails to reach out and build off its displays of strength, then all of this posturing will have been worthless, and we might have helped formalize a Sino-Russian entente cordiale.”
“However, much like how the British and French Empires of old managed to keep relative peace and prosperity between their two countries, the United States and Russia must learn to balance each other peacefully–and work together more often and more amicably.”
Russian Foreign Policy is more than its relations with the West. In my most recent lecture at the Institute of World Politics, I elaborate how Putin views the world and how the United States should handle its relations with Russia (hint: not the way that we’ve been handling them).