Author: Dr Stephen J Blank
Russia, despite claims made for and against its importance, remains, by any objective standard, a key player in world affairs. Russia is an important barometer of trends in world politics, e.g., the course of democratization in the world. Furthermore, Russia, if it were so disposed, could be the abettor and/or supporter of a host of negative trends in the world today. Even so, if U.S. policymakers and analysts see Russia more as a spoiler than as a constructive partner (whether rightly or wrongly), the fact remains that during the Cold War the Soviet Union was an active supporter of threats to world order such as international terrorism, and carried on a global arms race with the West. We negotiated productively with it on issues like arms control and proliferation. Today, no matter how bad Russo-American or East-West relations may be, no such threats are present or immediately discernible on the horizon. But ultimately, given Russia’s power, standing, and nuclear capability, dialogue and cooperation will be resumed at some point in the future. Therefore, an analysis of the prospects for and conditions favoring such cooperation is an urgent and important task that cries out for clarification precisely because current U.S.-Russian relations are so difficult.