All the WayIssue: Winter 2002-2003
Russia and the United States both stand on the verge of fundamental foreign policy choices likely to change dramatically their mutual relationship and, quite possibly, much more besides. For Russia, the choice centers on how thoroughgoing an alignment with the West it should pursue; for the United States, the choice centers on how thoroughgoing should be the independent assertion of its power. Choosing in the Russian case depends on how fully the leadership persuades itself, and then the Russian political class, that a changing international environment requires a change in the Russian approach-one that cuts free from habitual fears and addresses factors crucial to national welfare and progress. Choosing in the U.S. case has less to do with the elite's conception of international challenges than with the scope and methods of dealing with them. If the Russians make a dramatic conceptual choice, the effect on U.S.-Russian relations could be profound and positive.