"Into the Unknown: U.S.-Russia Relations Unhinged" by Robert Legvold

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In his thoughtful essay "Into the Unknown: U.S.-Russian Relations Unhinged" (Valdai Paper #64), Robert Legvold (Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, and Director of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative) explores the Trump administrations's policy on Russia.

From the opening:

"If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy. More fundamentally, how likely is it that he really means to abandon a leadership role for the United States in global politics and substitute a stark realpolitik approach to foreign policy issues? Already in the fourth week after a tumultuous first three weeks in office, he and his team had retreated on their more extreme positions: on a “One China” policy in a renewed pledge to Xi Jinping; on the Iran nuclear agreement in a pledge to Federica Mogherini; and on the U.S. mutual defense pact with Japan in a pledge to Shinzō Abe. Toward Russia the language quickly hardened in the speeches of senior foreign and defense policy officials. Thus, early signs suggested that the radical departure implied by the President’s pre- and post-election comments would melt away once harsh reality and difficult choices set in. But who could say for sure?"

The essay is available in English and Russian translation here.