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Taha Bousmaha - 0721224 Dr.

Boukhars PSI-3307

05/10/2013

US FOREIGN POLICY:
Should the United States give up on the reset of relations with Russia?

Taha Bousmaha - 0721224 Introduction

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The end of the Cold war - which witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union - provided both Russia and the United States new opportunities to cooperate. Russia for instance took over the permanent seat of the UNSC, which was previously held by the Soviet Union. It meant the rebirth of UN action, as it put an end to the empty chair policy that was adopted by t he Soviet Union at the Security Council1. NATO and Russia signed the NATO-Russian Founding Act in 1997 that aimed to provide a clear framework for Russian-NATO relations. Russia was also invited to join the G7 gathering of the worlds biggest economic powers, making it the G8. But by the end of 2008 - in the wake of the Russia-Georgia war - relations between the United States and Russia were as bad as they had been in more than twenty years. Attempts to improve relations with Russia were not necessarily unique to the Obama administration. Indeed, numerous efforts were made by the two previous administrations, efforts which ultimately failed to live up to expectations. For instance, the vision of strategic partnership that Presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush envisaged at the 2002 St Petersburg Summit encountered fundamental difference, notably on the 2003 intervention in Iraq, transnational threats, energy security, the color revolutions in the former soviet satellite states and Russian domestic development2. It is worth nothing that the situation was quite similar in the decade following the Breakup of the Soviet Union. Indeed, in 1992, then-president Boris Yeltsin extended a hand of friendship to the American People3, whilst President Bill Clinton talked of a strategic alliance with Russian reform4 in 1993. Moreover, the United States had great expectations regarding

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Kravitz, Alex. Five Abstentions International Reluctance in ACTUALLY Desperate Situations Dick, Clark. U.S.-Russia relation: Policy challenges for the Congress 3 Russian Presidents Address to Joint Session of Congress, Washington Post, June 18, 1992. 4 President Bill Clinton, A Strategic Alliance with Russian Reform, Address before the American Society of Newspapers Editors, Annapolis, Maryland, April 1, 1993.

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Russias rapid market and democratic reform, as they thought it would be the natural outcome with the end of history, as professed by Francis Fukuyama5. Russia, on the other hand, expected to be warmly welcomed into the Western world, in gratitude for their central role in bringing down communism. But all these hopes were dashed by the 1998 financial crisis in Russia and the strong discord over the 1999 NATO military intervention in Yugoslavia. From there, relations between the two countries remained strained and the cycle simply repeated itself.

The objective of the present essay is to track recent U.S. relations with Russia. Its purpose is also to support the argument that the United States and the former Soviet power are better off working together than competing against each other. It is not to say that the differences that undermine the two powers relations should be ignored. It should however, be acknowledged that they are small compared to the common challenges that both countries are currently facing, when they should rather concentrate on concrete issues. The following analysis is divided into four sections. The first one outlines the events that led to the deterioration of the two countries relations. The second addresses current U.S-Russia relationship. The next section examines the points where the U.S.s and Russians interests conflict. The fourth and final section outlines the possible scenarios for the future of U.S.-Russia relations, and how the United States should respond to the challenge posed by the Kremlin.

Fukuyama, Francis. The end of History? The National Interest, (1989)

Taha Bousmaha - 0721224 What went wrong?

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As noted by Dmitry Trenin6, the United States largely downplayed Russian interests throughout the 1990s. This was mainly based on the assumption that Russia was no longer a great power and was not to be taken into consideration when making important foreign policy and security decisions7. It is also fair to say that - from a psychological point of view - the background between the two countries was not favorable. Indeed, Cold War stereotypes lingered, and it could hardly have been otherwise, particularly in the bureaucracies, as the raison dtre of these bureaucracies was rooted in the U.S.-Soviet rivalry. Beyond Stereotypes, events have also played a major role in creating a dialectic of strength and weakness8. For the past fifteen years or so, the strength on one side has been met by the weakness on the other side. On the American side for instance, the 1990s were highlighted by rapid economic growth and excessive optimism, as the country enjoyed its standing as the worlds most prominent power. The United States intended on using its vast power to reshape a changing world in its image. For Russia, it was a time of national humiliation and troubles, it was also the first time in history that a major power which was experiencing a socioeconomic relapse- was not defeated in a major war. Russia longed for a return in the status quo that was prevailing ante 1991, at least in terms of international standing. The last years, however, tell a far different story. Indeed, the Russia that has emerged today as a foreign policy challenge for the United States has become wealthier, more stable, and has been enjoying a remarkable and unanticipated recovery. The United States on the other hand, has been rebuffed in their efforts to reshape the world and is currently facing mounting economic problems domestically.

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Trenin, Dmitry. Getting Russia Right. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Kanet, Roger E. From Cooperation to Confrontation: Russia and the United States since 9/11. Graham, Thomas. U.S.-Russia relations: Facing reality Pragmatically

Taha Bousmaha - 0721224 Assessing Russias Power

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When replacing Boris Yeltsin as the president of Russia in 1999, Vladimir Putin made it clear that his main goal was to reestablish Russias position as an important international actor and the preeminent power in the region. The essential conditions for the fulfillment of these objectives, as he himself stated, were the economic viability and internal political stability of Russia9. In order to achieve that, there was a strong need to overcome all forms of inclinations toward separatism and national extremism that was prevailing at that time. Putins administration moved, in most cases effectively in reasserting governmental control in Russia. Moreover, while the economy was still not flourishing, it had nevertheless shown strong positive signs of turning around. Indeed, high growth rates continued and even expanded in the following years, especially in the gas and oil sectors10. These political and economic achievements were

occurring, however, alongside a growing disdain for democratic processes and civic liberties. Indeed, his anti-corruption campaign soon became a tool to target all of those who challenged his policies or were concerned by the authoritarian turn in Russian politics11 In the realm of foreign policy, Kremlins leaders continued to seek alliance with countries that shared its commitment in preventing the United States global dominance, as it represented, in their view, a threat to Russias goal of being a major center of influence in a multipolar world12. Furthermore, most of the issues on which the two countries disagreed in the mid-1990s - such as U.S.- initiated United Nations economic sanctions against a number of countries and NATOs decision to proceed with eastward expansion into the former Soviet-controlled Europe

The Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (2000) Approved by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, 28 June, http://www.mid.ru/mid/eng/econcept.htm. 10 Kanet, Roger E. Ibid 11 Idem. 12 Idem.

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continued to undermine the relationship13. Put in other words, there was no evidence until the 9/11 attacks - that the disagreements that were dividing the United States and Russia in the 1990s would disappear anytime soon. In the aftermath of the 9/11 events, the Kremlins leader offered Russias support to the United States in its initial response to the attacks. Such support opened a short period in which the relations between the two countries were more cordial than they had been in a number of years. Russia, for instance, supported U.S. intervention against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, when the United States pushed for military intervention and regime change in Iraq in the summer of 2002. The relation rapidly deteriorated - highlighted by Russias increasing and vigorous critics of most aspects of U.S foreign policy and has not recovered since.

Current Russia-U.S. relations From the onset of his presidency, Barack Obama developed an ambitious agenda on Russia. He acknowledged that, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will have a significant voice in addressing the most crucial challenges, Such as Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan14. Initially, the reset15 of U.S policy toward Russia scored some notable successes. For instance, consensus was reached on nuclear arms control issues, which was highlighted by the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty16. Russian cooperation in

Afghanistan - which helped transport non-lethal supplies via the Northern Distribution Network17 - was also seen as a positive factor, as well as Russias support for another UN

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Kanet, Roger E. Ibid. Cropsey, Seth, and Douglas J. Feith. How the Russian Reset explains Obamas foreign policy. Weitz, Richard. Russia-U.S. relations under Obama: round 2 Legvold, Robert. Meeting the Russian Challenge in the Obama Era Weitz, Richard. Ibid.

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sanctions resolution on Iran. New undertaking also meant accelerating progress on various other issues, such as Russias WTO membership and agreement on multiple reentry visas. As they went on their tasks, Obamas administration officials were cautious of the lessons from the past, acknowledging that the relationship between the two countries required a strategic structure and direction in order to propel it forward. The tone of the dialogue with Russia was also much improved, which was primarily due to an early decision by the administration to shift its focus away from NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. Moreover, the new administrations approach to missile defense decisions in Europe was far different than its predecessors, which, argues Paul Sanders, also helped improve the tone of the conversation between the two countries18. These early successes were, however, rapidly replaced by inertia, and there are growing concerns that the two countries are currently becoming entangled in a mutually destructive cycle that will only harm their shared interests in the near future. It is fair to say that relations between Moscow and Washington began to deteriorate after Vladimir Putins return to the presidency in 2008. Although he has demonstrated the ability to reach agreements with the United States in the past, Putins decision to skip last years NATO and G8 summits let us suggest that the Kremlins leader does not consider improving relations with Washington his highest priority. Nonetheless, improving bilateral ties with Russia is certainly not the most pressing agenda item for the Obama administration either, with Washingtons relations with the Asia-Pacific region outshining ties with Russia. The Arab Spring has also revived Russia-U.S. tensions over the Middle East. Indeed, Russian policymakers have vigorously criticized NATOs intervention in Libya and warned Washington against an attack on Iraq. Furthermore, Moscow continues to support Bashar al

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Kuchins, Andrew. The demise of the U.S.-Russia Reset: Whats next?

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Assads regime in Syria, fearing that his removal from power would result in a victory for the Jihadi extremists19. When it comes to the domestic level, things are hardly any better. For instance, new regulations have put limits on Russian NGOs to cooperate with US partners. Moreover, the Kremlins decision to expel the USAID20 has severely increased Washingtons anxiety about Putins authoritarian tendencies21. In addition to this - due to the past history of antagonism and their limited economic cooperation - there arent any large groups of stakeholders, in either country, that support better relations. When it comes to trade, the two countries lack what we could call permanent normal trading relations, as last years mutual trade amounting to only $40 billion, which represents less than one percent of the U.S. annual trade turnover and ten times less than Russias trade with the European Union22. It is fair to assess that these poor trading relations, coupled with a lack of economic cooperation, may also result in Moscow and Washington developing further policies that would put their mutual interests at risk. This has been seen with Moscows announcement last year that it was not planning on renewing the agreement for the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program when it expires in June 2013. The program which has provided billions of dollars to the Russian government to help it dismantle its nuclear complexes - has been standing out as one of the most successful example of security collaboration between major powers that are former global adversaries23. It remains, however, unknown whether Russia plans to end the entire CTR program or whether Kremlins officials are simply negotiating for changes to conditions of the program. Russian policymakers have also rejected Obamas call for further
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Weitz, Richard. Ibid. U.S. Agency for International Development. Weitz, Richard. Ibid. Idem. Idem.

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bilateral nuclear arms reduction, reiterating instead that the United States curtails its missile defense program (something that would be politically impossible to accept for the current administration). What appears clear - when analyzing the two powers current behavior is that in past U.S. policies, there has been a significant lack of appreciation of the stakes the United States has in its relationship with Russia. Indeed, no administration until the current one has articulated a policy that highlights the ways Russia matters to the United States. This may be explained by the fact that no one succeeded in persuading former presidents, and acknowledging Russias importance. During Clintons presidency for instance, U.S policymakers assumed that they could guide Russia toward democracy and a market economy24, believing that Russia would remain a weak power, despite being a key international actor, essential to the worlds peace. Georges H.W. Bushs second term put the strain in evidence. Indeed, in his second inaugural address in 2005, the former president gave a sharp ideological edge to the administrations foreign policy. He made the promotion of democracy its core principle, stating that the U.S. objective was To seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world25 Relations between the two powers have not recovered since. Indeed, Russias leaders have grown more vocal in challenging plans to locate US missile defense system in Eastern Europe, NATOS expansion toward Russias borders and the American growing presence in the former Soviet space, which Russia see as unjustified interference in their domestic affairs and an unwillingness to accept their country as major world power.

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Rice, Condoleezza. "Promoting the Natio nal Interest. George W. Bushs Second Inaugural Address, Washington, D.C., http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050120-1.html.

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On the other hand, U.S. leaders have vigorously criticized Russia for selling arms to unsavory regimes, using its energy for geopolitical gain (especially vis--vis the former soviet satellite states) and adopting further assertive policies in the former Soviet space, which are aimed in Washingtons opinion - at undermining the independence of regional states, as well as constraining American presence in the region. This behavior, Washington argues, undermines the foundation of a partnership, which was supposed to be built and base on a shared commitment to free market and democratic values26 It was interesting to see, by the end of Vladimir Putins second term in 2008, how much of the content of Russia-U.S. relations reflected the Cold War agenda, as the focus was on the European balance of power, NATO expansion, the U.S missile defense system in Eastern Europe and the Balkans27.

What are the areas in which U.S and Russian national interests conflict? Regarding the post-Soviet space, The United States wants democratic, independent and autonomous states in the region, which would be open to external economic engagement. Russia, on the other hand, seeks influence and a droit de regard in the post-soviet space28. When it comes to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, both countries conflict on it, as the United States want a strong NATO, capable of out-of-area actions and free to welcome any States that fits its criteria, whilst Russia opposes a NATO expanding into the post-soviet space or an armed NATO on its immediate borders. Russia, however, accepts a NATO with an out-of-areal role in some cases provided it has been sanctioned by the United Nations29.

26 27

Graham, Thomas. Ibid. Idem. 28 Legvold, Robert, Ibid. 29 Legvold, Robert, Ibid.

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Rogue regimes are also another source of conflict between the two powers Indeed, whilst the United States wishes that countries which threaten the worlds peace change, Russia opposes the use of force as a means of regime change, and for that matter, any form of humanitarian intervention. This opposition is well highlighted by Russias continued veto on any meaningful resolution towards Syria in the UN Security Council. In addition to this, the question of values and commitment to democratic development has brought much irritation to U.S.- Russian relations30. It is important to acknowledge that it is almost impossible to conceive a United States that would not seek to promote democracy abroad, as it has been doing so since its origin as an independent state. And this is something that Russians leaders need to be aware of and accept. On the other hand, the United States must be careful when promoting democratic values, in order to avoid any interference in Russias domestic affairs. It is not only a matter of respect toward Russia; there is a practical aspect to it as well, which is related to the outcome the U.S. Seeks to attain. As George Kennan wrote at the beginning of the Cold War: The way by which people advance toward dignity and enlightenment in government are things that constitute the deepest and most intimate processes of national life. There is nothing less understandable to foreigners, nothing in which foreign interference can do less good31. In other instances, as emphasized by Robert Legvold, the two major powers have differing interest interests that diverge but that are not directly in conflict. We can cite for instance, the prevention of nuclear arms proliferation to countries like North Korea and Iran, for which the United States attaches the highest priority. Russia also considers it as important, but balances it against other foreign policy dimensions, such as energy, Islam in Central Asia and in

30 31

Idem. Kennan, Georges. America and the Russian Future.

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Northern Caucasus and arms sales32. It is, therefore quite simple to see how easily some of these divergences could turn into open conflicts between the two countries.

What Alternatives? Upon completing my research, I arrived at the conclusion that dealing with the challenge posed by contemporary Russia is no easy task, nor is defining the challenge itself. As previously mentioned, U.S.-Russia relationships have strongly deteriorated since Vladimir Putins return to the presidency. Given the accumulation of tensions between the two countries, it may be interesting to analyze what a policy shift from reset would represent for the United States in its relationship with Russia. The first alternative, as stressed by Stephen E. Hanson, would be a neo-containment strategy toward Russia, which is supported by those who primarily consider Russia as a geopolitical adversary (a weaker, more corrupt version of the Soviet Union). Proponents of such an approach argue that there are no longer any meaningful reasons to engage Russia in a cooperative international framework. Further research and analysis led me to believe that adopting such an alternative would jeopardize recent achievements in U.S.-Russia relations. Moreover, it would generate a situation of zero-sum hostility between the two countries33, which would only aggravate the existing tensions. On the other hand, policy analysts who are friendlier to the Russian regime have advocated a far different alternative to the reset policy: a full-scale, unconditional engagement with Russia34. Proponents argue that a strategy of neo-containment would have negative implications and that Putin provides a consistent leadership to a country that shares many

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Legvold, Robert. Ibid. Hanson, Stephen. Does the United States need a new Russia policy? Hanson, Stephen. Ibid.

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interests with the United States. However, such policy is unlikely to succeed either. Indeed, the idea of ignoring Russias human rights records and Putins restrictions on democracy and freedom would deeply clashes with American values and objectives. Moreover, if Washington were to stop all criticisms towards the Russian regime, the latter would interpret it as a sign of serious weakness. The third approach, which I personally emphasize, would be a conditional engagement toward Russia. It advocates that the United States should and must pursue a politic of cooperation with Russia on a limited number of areas, in which the two countries have common and overlapping interests. At the same time, proponents of this strategy argue that the U.S. should confront Russia whenever it causes troubles to its neighbors and provide assistance to what Washington officials see as outlaw regimes35. We can see that this approach would frame the relationship between the two countries in modest terms, restraining from the idea that the two countries could aspire to something as strong or as ambitious as a strategic alliance. Cooperation on Nonproliferation, strategic stability and energy would be the centerpiece of the two countries relations. Indeed, the United States and Russia given their position as the worlds two leading nuclear powers - are each necessary to dealing with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and transnational threats, and thus share a unique responsibility and unique capacity in handling those issues. Many elements are already in place, such as the 2005 U.S.Russia Bratislava Initiative on Nuclear Security, the U.S-Russia led Global Initiative to combat Nuclear Terrorism (which now includes 50 countries), Cooperation in the U.S. conceived Proliferation Security Initiative, and the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Arms Reduction36 Regarding Strategic stability in the Asian-pacific region, Russia has an interest in cooperation with a strong power such as the U.S. to act as a moderating influence in order to
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Legvold, Robert. Ibid. Graham, Thomas, Ibid.

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create a favorable equilibrium. In the Middle East, both powers have an incentive and have levers that could help promote stability in the region. In Europe, Russias energy is and will be critical to the continents economic well being, whilst the United States remains essential to ensure its stability and security. Last but not least, both countries will be critical to building lasting structures and security in the post-soviet region. Energy is also another critical aspect of U.S.-Russia relations. Indeed, the United States and Russia, respectively the worlds largest energy consumer and largest producer of hydrocarbons are both essential to any discussion of / on energy security matters. Cooperation on oil and Gas will be, however, difficult to implement. Repeated efforts in the past have not succeeded, primarily due to a mismatch of interests between the two major powers and the unstable nature of energy-sectors in Russia 37.

Toward a more constructive relationship Where is the relationship between the two countries most likely to go? What must be done? Most policy analysts agree that improvement is important and necessary if they want to be able to deal with issues critical to each of their national interest. The essential step in order to achieve broader, constructive relations between the two countries - is rebuilding the trust that has evaporated over the past decade. Indeed, in some respects, U.S. Russian relations have followed in recent years a path that can be best described by the security dilemma. Every time one of the two powers decided to pursue a certain policy such as Russias decision to opt for a military intervention in Georgia, or The U.S. decision to build a missile shield the level of mutual hostility dramatically rose, leading to retaliatory actions on the part of the other power38. Improvement will also require a strong focus on pragmatic and concrete challenges, which can
37 38

Idem. Legvold, Robert. Ibid.

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only be achieved if the United States and Russia establish a framework for discussion, negotiation and execution of agreed actions. The former Soviet space, as mentioned before, is perhaps the most contentious issue on the U.S.-Russian agenda, and frictions over the role each power is meant to play in the region will only intensify as Russia grows. In accordance with this, both countries need to respect sovereignty /territorial integrity of states in the post-soviet region. It is true that the states of this region were part of the Russian states for at least one century, which can be highlighted with the multiple economical, political and personal ties that remain from the period of common statehood39. That being said, Russia needs to acknowledge that current realities - such as globalization mean that the region can no longer be an exclusive zone of influence for Russia. Other countries, including the United States have interests in numerous parts of this region, and their presence will only expand over the years.

The challenge here is not to eliminate the competition which is unlikely to happen but rather find a way to prevent that competition from undermining the trust needed to cooperate on other matters 40. This would lead us back to the first principle of diplomacy: The willingness to accommodate the interests of the other side to the extent that does not jeopardize the ones own strategic goals41. In other words, interests, not values, remain the currency in the real of international relations.

39 40 41

Graham, Thomas, Ibid. Idem. Idem.

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Notwithstanding recent tensions, we may conclude that the United States and Russia continue to share a number of important and overlapping interests, which require, at least coordination if not cooperation. For instance, nuclear proliferation, the energy sector, and the rise of China, are all areas where an engagement of the two powers would be highly beneficial. In the worst case, such common interests should, at least for the time being, prevent U.S-Russian relations from becoming too adversarial. At best, they may provide a basis for the achievement of a deeper, broader cooperation between these two former Cold War rivals.

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Works Cited

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Talcott, Sasha. Report from the Commission on U.S. Policy Toward Russia. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (2009). http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18909/report_from_the_commission_on_us_p olicy_toward_russia_the_right_direction_for_us_policy_toward_russia.html

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