The Policy World Meets Academia: Designing U.S. Policy toward Russia

Part III: Overview

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Timothy J. Colton, Timothy Frye, and Robert Legvold
U.S. Policy Toward Russia

Contributors in this section wrestle with the practical realities—bureaucratic and political—that have to be accounted for when planning and implementing U.S. policy toward Russia. Daniel Drezner provides a broad overview of the subject. Starting from the proposition that the thrust of U.S. foreign policy once set changes in motion only slowly, he explains why the Obama administration was able to alter rather sharply the course of the Russia policy it inherited. He then goes on to identify the reason bureaucratic politics, special interests, public attitudes, and alliance politics in all likelihood will revert to form and set narrow limits on further policy shifts. The channel, he says, will run somewhere inside a “new Cold War” posture at one extreme and an ambitious “grand bargain” at the other. Monica Duffy Toft approaches the problem by selecting the constraints that operate when the United States factors Russia in its counterterrorism strategy. Her concern is less with the bureaucratic and political complexities of U.S. policy-making and more with the complications introduced into U.S. policy by the way Russia defines terrorism within its own borders. She explores how Russia’s definition of terrorism impacts how it combats insurgency in the North Caucasus.