Reality Check American Power in an Age of Constraints, Foreign Affairs

Jennifer Lind, i Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College and Daryk G. Press, Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.

Utdrag ur Foreign Affairs mars/april 2020.

 One source of geopolitical change is Russia. The country is in many ways an unlikely impediment to U.S. primacy. It is neither a thriving society nor a rising power. On the contrary, it is a country with an aging, shrinking population; it is rife with corruption; and it is almost totally reliant on oil revenues—hardly markers of innovation and growth. And yet Moscow has found clever and effective ways to push back against an international order that Russian President Vladimir Putin correctly views as hostile to his country’s interests. Through wars against Georgia and Ukraine, Russia has managed to not only halt those countries’ movements toward integration with the U.S.-backed order but also create divisions between Washington and its European allies. And by spreading disinformation via government-funded media outlets and bankrolling extremist European parties, Russia has exploited vulnerabilities in the open political systems of its adversaries and has sown polarization and division within their electorates. As a result, Washington and Moscow are now locked in a dangerous cycle of escalation. The United States and Europe continue to expand their political and military influence into Russia’s near abroad. (Bosnia, Georgia, North Macedonia, and Ukraine all are queuing up for entry into NATO, for example.) Russia, in turn, has launched covert military interventions in Ukraine, carried out dramatic assassination attempts in the United Kingdom, and conducted political interference campaigns across the West.

To de-escalate this conflict, the two sides should strike a bargain: Western nonexpansion for Russian noninterference. The West would cease any further enlargement of NATO and the EU in eastern Europe. In return, Russia would agree to cease its campaign of domestic political interference. (The degree of U.S. government interference in Russia’s domestic politics is unclear, but Washington would also need to disavow such methods.) Whatever the specifics of the deal, its goal would be mutual accommodation.