Cooperation vs. Confrontation

A piece from Yevgeny Bazhanov in the Moscow Times takes a look at what we can expect from the U.S.-Russia relationship this summer.

Amid the economic crisis and after the unsuccessful, misdirected policies of former President George W. Bush, it is likely that U.S. President Barack Obama will no longer pursue a hegemonic foreign policy. But this certainly does not mean that Obama will give up U.S. ambition to be the prominent global leader in international affairs. The problem with this is that other players –namely, Russia, China and the European Union — share similar leadership ambitions. And with these competing and conflicting ambitions, the potential for tension and confrontation remains. What’s more, world leaders, with the strong backing of their respective military-industrial complexes, never tire of exploiting — or inventing — external threats to strengthen the state and their personal authority. (…)

As far as U.S.-Russianrelations are concerned, the most heightened rivalry is in Russia’sbackyard. To avoid turning that rivalry into a confrontation, bothsides need to change their policies. The United States must give up itspassion for anti-Russian polices in the former Soviet republics, but atthe same time Russia needs to acknowledge the right of theseindependent countries to formulate their own foreign relations,including direct contacts with the United States and with variouseconomic and security organizations in Europe.

Which will provestronger — the desire for cooperation or the instinctive, Hobbesianurge to fight for global influence and resources? Former British PrimeMinister Winston Churchill once said, “The United States invariablydoes the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”We can only hope that not only the superpowers but all countries of theworld will choose the path of increased cooperation. Only then will webe able to build the peaceful and prosperous future we would all liketo see.