Summer 2010 Bulletin

U.S. Policy Toward Russia

U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Over the past two years, the Academy has conducted a major reexamination of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia. Under the leadership of Robert Legvold, Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, the study’s committee members prepared a strategic assessment of the bilateral relationship and created a blueprint for conceptualizing a twenty-first-century policy toward Russia.

During the first phase of the project, four different working groups explored the security dimension in U.S.-Russian relations, larger questions surrounding the relationship and the challenges facing U.S. policy, questions regarding the issue of structure in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and the increasingly complex and important economic dimension of U.S.-Russian relations.

In the second phase, the project’s principal contribution was a series of memoranda delivered to key policy-makers and congressional members on the need for a strategic dialogue with Russia; the importance of, and themes in, a potential presidential address on U.S.-Russia policy; and recommendations for dealing with the conceptual challenge of pursuing an active, engaged policy toward Russia while maintaining an independent, supportive policy toward Russia’s neighbors.

Many of the project’s steering committee members appeared at outreach events around the country, in Europe, and in Russia. For example, on March 18, 2009, Eugene Rumer (Institute for National Security Studies) and Angela Stent (Georgetown University) spoke at the World Affairs Council of Houston on “Rethinking Relations with Russia”; on April 17, 2009, at Chatham House in London, Robert Legvold gave a presentation on “Can There be a U.S.-European Partnership in Policy toward Russia?”; and from June 30 to July 1, 2009, several committee members participated in a joint seminar in Moscow cosponsored by the Academy, Russia’s Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, and RIA Novosti. Several steering committee members also made presentations in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

In the third and final phase of the project, the Academy held a seminar on “The Policy World Meets Academia: Designing U.S. Policy toward Russia” to promote interaction between international relations experts from the university community and policy professionals. The conference was sponsored by the Academy, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University), and The Harriman Institute (Columbia University).

A recently published volume, The Policy World Meets Academia: Designing U.S. Policy toward Russia, the product of the January seminar, brings academic and policy perspectives to bear on the issues affecting U.S.- Russia relations. In Part I, essays by scholars Alexander Cooley (Barnard College/Columbia University), Ronald R. Krebs (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), and Jeffrey Mankoff (Yale University), along with commentary from experienced policy-maker Thomas Graham (Kissinger Associates), assess the challenge Russia poses to U.S. policy. In Part II, Samuel Charap (Center for American Progress), Keith A. Darden (Yale University), and H. E. Goemans (University of Rochester) devise policy approaches to the challenge Russia presents, and Steven Pifer (The Brookings Institution) provides feedback on the proposed strategies from a policymaker's standpoint. Part III turns to the practical and political obstacles to designing and implementing U.S. policy, with essays by Daniel W. Drezner (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University) and Monica Duffy Toft (Harvard Kennedy School).

This publication is an attempt to bridge the growing distance between policy-makers and scholars. The volume’s editors, Timothy Colton (Harvard University), Timothy Frye (Columbia University), and Robert Legvold (Columbia University), recall in their introduction that “[d]uring the Cold War . . . scholars studying the Soviet Union and American policy-makers were so tightly linked that the boundaries between the two communities often blurred.” They express their firm conviction in the value of restoring this once productive relationship, stating that “academia and the policy-making community alike would benefit from institutional mechanisms that would increase communication and cross-pollination between the two.”

The Academy is grateful to Carnegie Corporation of New York for its generous support of the U.S. Policy toward Russia project.