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

Part I: Overview

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

The essays written by Alexander Cooley, Ronald Krebs, and Jeffrey Mankoff, together with commentary from Thomas Graham, assess the challenge Russia poses to U.S. policy. Rather than provide a comprehensive or broad treatment of the subject, Cooley, Krebs, and Mankoff instead focus on specific aspects of the relationship and offer a fine-grained appreciation of the task facing the policy-maker. Cooley looks at Russia’s behavior within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and most Central Asian states. He considers in rare detail the practical implications Russian actions have for U.S. interests in this context. Krebs, an international relations theorist, moves in another direction, introducing the impact that national narratives have on foreign policy behavior. He contrasts U.S. and Russian versions of why Russia lost the Cold War, whether it remains a great power, and what the extent of its decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been. He argues that narrative divergences may significantly affect relations between the two countries. Mankoff turns to a particularly vexed issue in U.S.-Russia relations: Russian policy toward its new neighbors and the contentious interaction with the United States in former Soviet space. The word is then given to Thomas Graham, who brings his policy-maker’s experience to the topic and shares his assessment of the potential contribution to policy-making from the three scholars’ papers.