President Barack Obama listens during the U.S. - Russia Business Summit, July 7, 2009, in Moscow.
"Obama's Style Trumps Substance, Again"
Op-Ed, The Daily Beast
July 7, 2009
Author: Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs; Faculty Chair, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
"President Obama's conduct of the Moscow summit this week made relations with Russia look easy. Too easy, in fact.
The tone of U.S.-Russian diplomacy was much improved, and Obama is returning to Washington with several concrete agreements, but the summit did not yield a significant breakthrough on any major issue. In fact, like much of Obama's foreign policy to date, the Moscow summit was as much a triumph of style and attitude as an achievement in terms of substance. Russian-American relations may now be headed in the right direction, but both sides have a long way to go.
Obama arrived in Moscow after some 15 years of mutual disappointment. Initial hopes for warm and close relations had evaporated after Russia's economy collapsed in the 1990s and Washington could not resist taking advantage of Moscow's all-too-apparent weakness. Russian leaders were alarmed when the Clinton administration expanded NATO eastward despite repeated objections, and their anger increased when NATO attacked Moscow's Serbian ally during the 1999 Kosovo war.
Moscow was equally incensed when the Bush administration abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, invaded Iraq in 2003, pressed forward with plans for missile defenses in Eastern Europe, cultivated close ties with several post-Soviet republics in Central Asia, and pushed NATO to accelerate membership for Georgia and Ukraine in 2008...."
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