The United States and Russia into the 21st Century

  • October 01, 1997
  • Dr Michael McFaul, Dr R Craig Nation

In late April 1997, the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute hosted its Eighth Annual Strategy Conference. The topic for this year's conference was Russia's Future as a World Power. The concluding panel for this conference, The United States and Russia into the 21st Century, included the following two papers. In the first essay, Beyond the Cold War: Change and Continuity in U.S.-Russian Relations, Dr. R. Craig Nation argues that, for the United States, the primary challenge is to adjust to a post-Cold War world where it is difficult to justify traditional exercises of power in the absence of any imminent threat. But, for the United States, the trauma of readjustment has been mostly confined to the American defense industry and the military services themselves; and the adjustments that are being undertaken have occurred in the midst of an economy enjoying an exceptionally long and steady growth. For Russia, however, the demise of the Soviet Union was a event of unparalleled historical precedent. In the span of a few years, what was once an awesome empire, one whose interests were defended by armed forces of tremendous size and quality, fractured. Left was a truncated state, undergoing massive economic upheaval. With the exception of its armed forces and nuclear capabilities, Russia poses dangers to only a very few immediate neighbors. Dr. Nation traces the attempts of both states to come to terms with Russia's new status and to establish a new relationship. He concludes that neither a purely cooperative nor inevitably antagonistic pattern will characterize their turn-of-the- century interaction. Instead, we should anticipate a hybrid model as Russia defines its national interests through its own prism. In the second essay, American Policy Towards Russia: Framework for Analysis and Guide to Action, Dr. Michael McFaul maintains that, while Russia may be temporarily in decline, its sheer size, natural resources, educated populace, and strategic location