U-S Russia Relations

In her lecture last night, Angela Stent brought up many points about the necessity of perspective in diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States that I think are really important when thinking about where they will go in the future. The United States has a hard time understanding others’ points of view, and calling this “empathy deficit disorder” is a clever way of getting to the center of the problem, or at least what other countries think is America’s problem when conducting foreign policy. In order for Russia to come to the table, the United States must find a way to realistically balance an emphasis on sharing our national values with realpolitik, so that we do not scare them off with too much of either.

I agree with her about how Russia’s view of how a state should act is much more conservative. Emphasizing sovereignty in the classical definition, where Russia maintains a status quo position in world politics, is an understandable strategy given post-soviet transitional instability. I think that by misunderstanding this, the United States is almost unfairly making Russia out to be the bad guy more than they should be (though sometimes this is perfectly called for), because we think that Russia should be playing a similar interventionist role as the United States in the affairs of other countries.

Dr. Stent managed to present a lot of information in a very short period of time, and I appreciated that she was able to do so from both the Russian and the American points of view.