Former Colorado Senator and former Council for Livable World chairman Gary Hart recently got into a hot dialogue in the pages and web site of the New York Times over a reported new American policy of giving Russia the cold shoulder.
He had a number of informed observers agreeing and disagreeing with him, and was permitted a rebuttal of the rebuttals.
Senator Hart highlights America’s (unfortunately) too typical inconsistent policy toward countries that take actions with which we vehemently disagree.
Because Russia has taken a series of repressive steps internally and disagreed with us on some important issues – even while cooperating on negotiations with Iran and North Korea, troop supply in Afghanistan and nuclear arms – we give them a cold shoulder.
Other countries we ostracize totally such as Cuba – for more than 60 years.
But we are more than willing to work together with other transgressors, such as China with a political system much more like the old Soviet Union than today’s Russia, the monarchy in Saudi Arabia which treats women as third class citizens and refuses to permit political parties, and a highly corrupt regime in Afghanistan.
Putin is not blameless in the current situation, but current U.S. national security officials would do well to cooperate closely with Russia when we can and disagree with them where we must.
As with every other country.
The United States had an opportunity to establish closer relations with Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but the Clinton Administration treated a feeble Russia with disdain and took steps to push Moscow away from the new Europe rather than bringing them in the tent.
We should not repeat the mistake again.
As Senator Hart writes: “Persistent and patient diplomacy with Russia will yield many more rewards than disappointments.”
Stephen F. Cohen, Professor, Russian Studies at New York University, recently wrote a trenchant OpEd in the Washington Post on this topic.
Cohen points out: “The road to America’s national security runs through Moscow.” But, he add, the United States keeps screwing up the chance for a true partnership: “Every opportunity for a U.S.-Russian partnership during the past twenty years was lost, or is being lost, in Washington, not in Moscow.”
The original post by Senator Gary Hart:
To the Editor:
It is dismaying to read that the Obama administration is “quietly adopting a new approach to its old cold war rival, the cold shoulder” (“Another Reset of Relations With Russia in Obama’s Second Term,” news article, Feb. 2). Once again, this suggests a triumph for the anti-Russian brigades that seem to occupy American foreign policy circles.
Unquestionably, there are instances in which Russia does not live up to our standards of democracy and refuses to behave as we instruct it to. But no more so than another major power, the People’s Republic of China, with which we maintain much better relations over all.
Any fair-minded analysis demonstrates that persistent and patient diplomacy with Russia will yield many more rewards than disappointments, including in venues such as Syria, where its help can be decisive.
Kittredge, Colo., Feb. 11, 2013
Click here here for the full dialogue.