Washington and Moscow Must Embrace Détente—Despite Trump

An honor guard opens the door as Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) enters a hall to attend a meeting with members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool

Sober realism about U.S. policy towards Russia has seldom been more imperative and less evident.

September-October 2017

Russian interference into U.S. elections requires independent investigation. The special counsel should be complemented by an independent commission authorized to look at what is known, and report publicly. The United States should strengthen its election systems to counter outside interference, and work with other nations to devise “rules of the road” on hacking and cyber dangers, particularly those related to interference in strategic warning systems and nuclear command and control.

Today, the focus on Russian interference is fed by fierce resistance to the depredations of Donald Trump. That enables ideologues and entrenched interests to fan a neo-McCarthyism that scorches anyone calling for better relations. As editor of the Nation, a magazine with a long history of adopting alternative views and unpopular stances on foreign policy (that were later viewed as common sense), I understand the importance of challenging the conventional orthodoxy. I am also acutely aware of how difficult it has become in today’s toxic media and political environment to argue that the United States and Russia should work together on areas of common interest. Rebuilding a working détente with Russia will require skill, persistence and real courage. With Trump demonstrating that he has neither the temperament nor the capacity to sustain a coherent, balanced policy initiative, it is hard to see how we get there from here.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of the Nation.

Image: An honor guard opens the door as Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) enters a hall to attend a meeting with members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 1, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool ​

Pages