Obama’s Russia Adviser Against Isolation

Michael McFaul, who serves as Sen. Barack Obama’s main Russia policy adviser, is quoted by Bloomberg tonight talking about his positions on engagement with Moscow, WTO ascension, and the missile shield issue.

“Obviously, in contrast to Senator McCain, we don’t believe in trying to isolate Russia,” the adviser, Michael McFaul, a Russia expert at Stanford University, said in a phone interview today from California. “Those kind of actions we see as counterproductive in dealing with Russia.” McFaul, who said he was giving his personal view and not the official policy of the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign, said it is in the U.S. interest for Russia to be in the WTO. He also said that a Russian offer to host elements of a planned U.S. missile defense at facilities in Russia and Azerbaijan “should be explored.”

McFaul criticized the Bush administration for its “unilateral” decision to proceed with the missile-defense system over the objections of Russia, which has condemned the shield as a threat to its security. (…)”That, for sure, will be changed in terms of the process by which Senator Obama would pursue these things as president,” said McFaul.The Obama adviser also denounced as “irresponsible” the failure of the Bush administration to pursue nuclear disarmament talks with Russia.Engaging Russia gives the U.S. “leverage” by making the countries stakeholders in the global order, he said.”As a general philosophy, we are better off in direct negotiations with them, and trying to do things of mutual interest, versus isolating, containing them,” said McFaul.