OpEdNews Op Eds

Should Moscow Root for Obama?

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Become a Fan
  (1 fan)
- Advertisement -

This comment first submitted to the Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel (March 21, 2008)


When it comes to Russia, the differences among the US presidential candidates are so slight that there is little reason for Russians to prefer one over another.

Senator McCain's foreign policy advisory team mixes "realists" Robert McFarlane, Brent Scowcroft, Stephen E. Biegun, Lorne W. Craner, Richard Armitage, and Henry Kissinger with neo-con "hawks" Max Boot, R. James Woolsey, Niall Ferguson, Robert Kagan and William Kristol.

This combination is likely to produce the same sort of intellectual schizophrenia that it did at the outset of the Reagan administration. During its first two years initiatives were generated opportunistically within the NSC and the CIA, culminating in the spectacular but ultimately pointless sabotage in June 1982 of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. Ronald Reagan eventually put a stop to these dangerous shenanigans in April 1983 and dramatically changed his thinking, thanks in no small part to Suzanne Massie, who helped him develop an appreciation for the culture and religiosity of the Russian people.

Senator McCain, however, shows little sign of developing the intellectual flexibility or personal empathy that Ronald Reagan was famous for. His foreign policy toward Russia is therefore likely to drift listlessly between overt hostility and grudging tolerance.

On the Democratic side, I would not dismiss Senator Clinton's chances of becoming president. Her senior foreign policy advisors, Madeleine K. Albright, Richard C. Holbrooke, Strobe Talbott, like those of Senator McCain, are all from a generation that dealt either with a weak and rudderless USSR, or a weak and vulnerable Russia. It was largely under their leadership that Washington stopped paying any attention to Russia at all, so perhaps it is an indication of things to come that, with the exception of Steven Sestanovich, Senator Clinton's advisory team seems unusually light when it comes to expertise on Russia.

- Advertisement -

Senator Obama says he represents "change," but there is very little of it to be seen among his Russia advisors--Zbigniew Brzezinski and his son Mark, W. Anthony Lake, Dennis B. Ross, and Michael Mcfaul.

In his latest interview on Echo of Moscow radio (March 8, 2008) Zbigniew Brzezinski calls president-elect Dmitry Medvedev a "nominal leader," compares Putin to Mussolini, dismisses Russian security concerns as "paranoia," and refers to NATO as "the dividing line between the Atlantic community and Russia." Later, in the same interview, Brzezinski draws a distinction between young Russians and "the dinosaurs" still in power. Bafflingly, he fails to see how appropriate this label would be to his own thinking.

For now, the dinosaurs are firmly in control of US foreign policy toward Russia, on both the Republican and the Democratic side. Senior advisors from all three campaigns took part in the March 2006 Council on Foreign Relations report, "Russia's Wrong Direction," co-chaired by Jack Kemp and John Edwards.

Criticized by Russian commentators as hopelessly out of touch with today's Russia, it remains, nevertheless, the touchstone of US thinking about Russia. So long as that is true, the only thing to expect from US policy toward Russia is a further slide into irrelevancy. The initiative for change, it seems, will have to come from Russia.

- Advertisement -

 

Nicolai N. Petro is professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island. He has served as special assistant for policy in the U.S. State Department and as civic affairs advisor to the mayor of the Russian city of Novgorod the Great. His books include: The Rebirth of Russian Democracy (Harvard,1995), Russian Foreign Policy (Longman, 1997), and (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Russia Can't Be Manipulated Through External Pressure

Ukraine: Why Culture Matters

What the Tagliavini Report Fails to Consider

How the E.U. Can Bring Ukraine Into Europe

Twice Lost in Translation

Some Orthodox Reflections on the (P)ussy (R)iot Case

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

'Ronald Reagan eventually put a stop to these ... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 1:30:39 PM
On Susan Massie’s role in the conversion of ... by Nicolai N. Petro on Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 4:16:09 PM