US Exclusionary Policy Post-1989

As the Berlin Wall fell, historian Mary Sarotte argues that the then exclusionist US Policy in Europe formed an ‘ordering point’ upon which the excluded Soviet Union forms its foreign policy to this day. The ‘ordering point’, according to Sarotte, is “the historical evidence now available from both Eastern and Western countries shows what alternatives ‘seemed real at the time’, and what chances they had of becoming actual outcomes of the upheaval of 1989.” What we can now see was not clear to individuals at the time, but the way in which these events played out now shapes our understanding of European-US and US-Russian relations. President George H.W. Bush’s mentality of trying to secure the US’ Cold War victory and failure to identify the long-term issues between Russia and the West provided much context for Sarotte to then justify actions for individuals such as Vladimir Putin. She believes that one can trace all of his actions involving Eastern Europe and the West back to Bush’s policies in the early 90s. With our current inability to reason with and control Putin, politicians and political pundits need to revisit the United States’ decisions during the H.W. Bush Administration and rediscover how the US’ exclusionist policies have more or less back the Russians into a corner. As ‘Baby’, their corner position has forced some of their aggressive actions, all in the name of trying to be seen and included in the world’s superpowers.

Sarotte, M. E.  “In Victory, Magnanimity: US Foreign Policy, 1989-1991, and the Legacy of Prefabricated Multilateralism”. International Politics, 48(4-5), 482-495. doi:http://envoy.dickinson.edu:2077/10.1057/ip.2011.21

Sarotte, Mary. “A Broken Promise?”  Foreign Affairs, Sep/Oct2014, Vol. 93, Issue 5, 90-97

One thought on “US Exclusionary Policy Post-1989

  1. The connection between U.S. policy in the years immediately following the Cold War and current U.S.-Russian relations is key to understanding Vladimir Putin’s actions, and possibilities for improved diplomatic relations in the future. U.S. policy post-Cold War can be paralleled with some of the failures of the Versailles Treaty and the Post-WWII policy of the Soviet Union. The Cold War rarely included direct conflict and was more of a cultural competition so it lacks much of the devastation of the World Wars, but American refusal to recognize Russia hindered its ability to become an acclimated member of the world just as economic sanctions on Germany and Eastern Europe did after each World War.

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