Realism about RussiaIssue: Fall 2001
Reacting to the Bush Administration's promise of "realism" in dealing
with Russia, a former Clinton Administration official observed that
"the issue is what is reality." Indeed it is.
Clinton Administration officials had their reality: Russia was on the
path to liberal democracy, albeit stumbling occasionally; it was
building the institutions for an effective market economy, although
suffering periodic setbacks; its large arsenal of nuclear weapons
entitled it to major power status, but at the same time the United
States could help to reduce significantly the number of operational
Russian warheads and to improve the security of Russian nuclear
weapons and materials. This assessment prompted the Clinton
Administration to believe that Russia could be induced to play a
constructive role in the Balkans, with NATO, in Iran, and elsewhere.