A Resurgent Russia: Friend or Foe?Printable Version
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Flanagan argued that Russia was deeply discontented with a post-Cold War order which emphasized democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, and an expansion of NATO into what was previously the Soviet space. Although Russians were receptive to a dialogue with the United States, it would have to be a dialogue which embraced fundamental changes to the international system. Flanagan identified five major principles at the heart of Russia's strategic foreign policy goals: First, that the international system should respect state sovereignty over humanitarian interventionalism and discourage multilateral coalitions acting outside of the UN framework; second, that the United States is in relative decline, and the international system should represent these multipolar trends; third, the recognition on behalf of the United States of the flaws of the current international system, and Russia's indispensable role in their reform; fourth, that Russia has a right to intervene in neighboring states to protect the lives of Russian citizens; and finally, that the former Soviet space should be recognized as legitimate sphere of interest for Russia's security needs.
Sarah Mendelson continued the discussion by arguing that Russia is a revisionist power advancing a 19th century conception of the state. Consequently, Russia has adopted policies which are confrontational abroad and authoritarian at home. Although a democratic minority exists within Russia, it is marginalized and largely dysfunctional. Conversely, police corruption is rampant, with 40 percent of citizens fearing arbitrary arrest. Mehdelson argued that although the United States should not hold high expectations for Russian democratization, it can nevertheless do quite a bit by "keeping its own house in order." Essentially, by maintaining a steadfast dedication to respecting human rights, and by being a more forceful advocate for human rights abroad, the U.S. can frame its relationship with Russia in a way that is more conducive to the Russian respect for rights.
- While the US and Russia may differ on certain major issues, such as NATO expansion, both countries must recognize and strive for cooperation on issues of mutual concern -- nuclear security being a prime example. The countries should work together to strengthen Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.
- Maintaining respect for
human rights has implications beyond just the
US-Russian relationship. For example, the
9/11 Commission discussed the importance of the
US serving as "an example of moral leadership
in the world." We must maintain the
highest standards of conduct in order to retain
our ability to exercise the full range of our