The Georgian crisis brought to the surface the thawing relations that the United States and Russian currently, placing Russia to be a priority in the US foreign policy agenda. America and the West have to craft a policy that will define how to deal with Russia. Like other debates in regard to foreign policy, this debate has turned out to be controversial pitting those that demand that America needs to be more decisive and forceful when dealing with Russia. The best approach however should be to initiate a foreign policy that seeks to foster an understanding and cooperation towards solving the myriad of problems facing the international politics.
Since the crumbling of the cold of the cold war, Russians assertiveness and influence as a global player has been on the wane, currently however, Russia is re-awakening and asserting its role. Those advocating for a forceful approach towards Russia are focusing at the dynamics of the past and foreseeing the reincarnation of the dreaded communist Russia. It is important to point out that the memories of the cold war and its possible recap has sent shivers across the West and to the United States. The stand for US to be more assertive is further fuelled by the current Russian-Georgian crisis. The sheer might and brutality meted out against Georgia by the Russian forces was an indicator of the transformation gradually taking shape in Russia. This point of view is further aggravated by the more personal rule exhibited by Vladimir Putin and taken up by his successor, Kremlin. Analysts especially from the west consider Russia to be more of an authoritarian than a totalitarian, where the leadership has consolidated immense political power than any other president has been to do since the end of the cold war (Slaughter, 2008). To those that advocate for decisive steps to be taken towards Russia, they see such authoritarianism as a pointer that Russia is slowly limping back to the older days and strategizing on reclaiming its lost glory and possibly using its energy powered economy to reassert it position.
Indeed, these fears can only be real if one judges from the past. However, a look and a close analysis of Russia indicate that it is reasserting its global position but not in a way that threatens global stability. America’s foreign policy hence should seek to nurture and make amends so as to have unanimity with Russia on how to approach the current global problems rather than taking the confrontational route. To have a grasp of the current crisis, it is possible to pinpoint the exact cause of the dissatisfaction. The current now can be traced to Iraq where Russia “spoke out sharply against the British-US attack, calling it the most serious crisis since the end of the cold war.” (Braun, 2008, 130) The relations between Russia and the US thawed and the current row is just the climax. The NATO –Russia controversy and the United States stand is also a concern. Russia’s grievances are that the US has been playing unilateral international politics that disregard Russia’s interests and a role as a global player. The United States rather than doing anything that can exacerbate the current stalemate should take a more diplomatic approach. The assertion that Russians authoritarianism is a point of concern does not hold water. Tentative opinion polls indicate that Russians are more appreciative of the country’s leadership. This though is understandable as Putin was able to restore Russians confidence in its politics and economics (Trenin, 2008). Whereas the idealized democracy may not have been achieved, there is more freedom and citizen participation. Foreign policy of the US should not be crafted with this in mind but rather should focus on the possible outcomes of improved relations with Russia considering the global threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation. The past should not be used as an excuse to plunder the gains that have been made. The alleged Russia’s authoritarianism is more of a government failure in its bid to consolidate political power and does not in any way come close to the totalitarianism exhibited by Stalin, the communist architect.
Braun, A., 2008. NATO-Russia Relations in the Twenty-First Century. Routledge,
Slaughter A. Sep 9th 2008. Assertive Russia: The proposition’s opening remarks. The Economist Newspaper. Retrieved on March 24, 2009 from http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/163
Trenin D. Sep 9th 2008. Assertive Russia: The opposition’s opening remarks. The Economist Newspaper. Retrieved on March 24, 2009 from http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/163