Blogs: The Skeptics

Is North Korea's Military the Ultimate Paper Tiger (That Could Still Kill Millions)?

What Is the Best Way to Deal with the Problem of Islamic Terrorism?

Grand Strategy: George W. Bush vs. Barack Obama

The Simple Reason Russia and America Keep Inching towards Crisis

The Skeptics

Russia considers its military maneuvers and other actions to be a defensive response following years of U.S. provocations, highlighted by Washington’s policies regarding the Balkans and NATO expansion. Subsequent U.S. military deployments in eastern Europe are deemed an even worse provocation. Putin’s government regards such moves as unacceptable intrusions in Russia’s rightful sphere of influence as a great power. U.S. leaders, on the other hand, reject the very concept of spheres of influence. Biden is only the latest prominent American to emphasize that point, charging that Russia aims to return to a system in which international politics is “defined by spheres of influence.”

Although both countries bear responsibility for the breakdown in relations, Washington deserves more blame than Moscow. Rejecting any manifestation of spheres of influence is either naïve or supremely arrogant. Russia is hardly the only country to regard the concept as important for its security. Or do U.S. officials believe that Chinese actions in the South China Sea, Turkey’s policies toward Iraq and Syria, and Saudi Arabia’s actions in Bahrain and Yemen do not involve such a consideration?

The incoming Trump administration has an important opportunity to repair relations with Russia. Trump himself has expressed the desire to reduce tensions and pursue greater cooperation with Moscow. He has reiterated those views despite scurrilous allegations, by opponents hell-bent on triggering a new Cold War, that he is a Putin stooge or even a Russian “Manchurian candidate.” One hopes that he succeeds in dampening tensions. The alternative is an increasingly dangerous confrontation with a Russia that possesses thousands of nuclear weapons.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 10 books, the contributing editor of 10 books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force

Pages

Trump Should Shun the Iran Hawks

The Skeptics

Russia considers its military maneuvers and other actions to be a defensive response following years of U.S. provocations, highlighted by Washington’s policies regarding the Balkans and NATO expansion. Subsequent U.S. military deployments in eastern Europe are deemed an even worse provocation. Putin’s government regards such moves as unacceptable intrusions in Russia’s rightful sphere of influence as a great power. U.S. leaders, on the other hand, reject the very concept of spheres of influence. Biden is only the latest prominent American to emphasize that point, charging that Russia aims to return to a system in which international politics is “defined by spheres of influence.”

Although both countries bear responsibility for the breakdown in relations, Washington deserves more blame than Moscow. Rejecting any manifestation of spheres of influence is either naïve or supremely arrogant. Russia is hardly the only country to regard the concept as important for its security. Or do U.S. officials believe that Chinese actions in the South China Sea, Turkey’s policies toward Iraq and Syria, and Saudi Arabia’s actions in Bahrain and Yemen do not involve such a consideration?

The incoming Trump administration has an important opportunity to repair relations with Russia. Trump himself has expressed the desire to reduce tensions and pursue greater cooperation with Moscow. He has reiterated those views despite scurrilous allegations, by opponents hell-bent on triggering a new Cold War, that he is a Putin stooge or even a Russian “Manchurian candidate.” One hopes that he succeeds in dampening tensions. The alternative is an increasingly dangerous confrontation with a Russia that possesses thousands of nuclear weapons.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of 10 books, the contributing editor of 10 books, and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

Image: Honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Air Force

Pages

Pages