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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Releases > 2002

U.S.-Russian Relations in the Post-Post-Cold War World

Richard N. Haass, Director, Policy Planning Staff
Remarks to RAND Business Leaders Forum, Tenth Plenary Meeting
New York, New York
June 1, 2002

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Thank you, Jim, for that kind introduction. And congratulations on over two decades of distinguished service at RAND.

I knew Jim Thomson even before he fled to RAND as a refugee from the Carter Administration, and I’ve marveled at how he has guided RAND into the post- and now the post-post-Cold War world.

I’m still in awe of how Jim managed to bring down the Berlin Wall only three months after he became head of RAND. That’s less time than it has taken us to sort out the flap over the Russian ban on imports of U.S. poultry. By the way, I hope our Russian colleagues will take back the message that it would be a lot easier to lift the ban on American chicken than to come all the way from Moscow to eat it here!

The very fact that we are here today for the 10th plenary of the RAND Business Leaders Forum shows how RAND is helping shape the world that emerged from the Cold War. Over the past 4 ½ years, this Forum has attracted the most distinguished thinkers, policy-makers, and business leaders for discussions that have made a difference in the U.S.-Russia relationship. It’s notable how many alumni of this Forum are currently serving in senior positions in the Bush administration -- Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul O’Neill, Bob Zoellick, Ken Dam. So Jim, how come you didn’t invite me until now?

The participants in this year’s Forum face a unique challenge -- trying to make sense of the world, American policy, and the U.S.-Russian relationship less than nine months after the attacks of September 11.

I come to the task with the advantage -- and disadvantage -- of not being a Russia expert. Indeed, as the Director of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, my job is to look at the big picture or, as Secretary of State George Marshall so succinctly put it in his instructions to the first Director of Policy Planning, and a genuine Russian expert, George Kennan -- "avoid trivia." I’ll try to heed the Secretary’s injunction.

American Foreign Policy in the Post-Post-Cold War World

So let me start with a broader perspective of the world and the United States’ role in it, before I venture into the U.S.-Russian relationship. It is important to place the bilateral relationship in its larger context, because the relationship inevitably affects, and is in turn affected by, how America approaches its role in the world.

In the United States, we tend to look at the world in "pre-September 11" and "post-September 11" terms. Post-September 11, it is clear that we live in what Secretary of State Colin Powell likes to call the post-post-Cold War world. This is an era defined by a number of realities, foremost among them American primacy, the low probability of great power conflict, and the spread of democracy and free market economics. But it is also a time of continuing regional threats, persisting widespread poverty and the exclusion of too many people from the benefits of globalization, and increasing transnational challenges.

One of these transnational challenges has emerged as the greatest threat to the national security of the United States and the rest of the world -- what President Bush has termed "the new totalitarian threat" of regimes possessing weapons of mass destruction and the terrorists they may sponsor. Indeed, the murders of September 11 have helped create a new strategic clarity in the American mind. Not since the height of the Cold War has it been so obvious what the United States is for and what it is against.

As a result, there is a renewed national consensus on America’s purpose in the world. Polls show broad public support for President Bush’s counterterrorism policies and for international engagement in general. There is also strong support for providing greater resources for international activity, not only for defense and intelligence, but also for foreign assistance. Not surprisingly, the American people also want us to spend their resources wisely. President Bush’s Millennium Challenge Account initiative is "tied aid" -- not in the old sense of linking it to purchases of American goods and services, but in a new spirit of "tough love" conditionality that requires recipients to put in place policies that promise to use, not waste, American help.

September 11 also taught that the United States, for all its power and determination, cannot deal with the threat of terrorism alone. Terrorism is a global challenge, and it requires global solutions, involving a range of partners and a full kit of tools -- diplomatic, financial, intelligence, law enforcement, and economic, as well as military.

We are using the full tool kit. Militarily, NATO allies and other countries have participated in various aspects of Operation Enduring Freedom, from flying air sorties and refueling missions, to putting ships on patrol in strategic locations throughout the world, to providing overflight rights and staging areas for troops. In a fitting twist on the old Cold War theme of America coming to Europe’s defense, NATO crews manned air surveillance flights over several American cities, including New York and Washington. Many countries have put troops on the ground, both as part of the successful campaign to drive the Taliban from power and break the back of al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and as contributors to the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan

Cooperation extends well beyond the military sphere. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to require all UN members to freeze terrorist financing, improve border security, clamp down on the recruitment of terrorists, share information, and deny terrorists any support or safe haven. Both individually and through organizations such as the Organization of American States and the European Union, governments have broken terrorist rings, frozen terrorist assets, and beefed up border security. While military action dominates the headlines, it is these non-military tools that, in the long run, will most likely provide the margin of victory against terrorism.

At the same time, the international community does not have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the terrorist threat or proliferation. The transnational agenda is growing. Societies are also threatened by disease, illegal drugs, transnational crime, human trafficking, and global warming. All people have a stake in combating poverty in the developing world and promoting sustainable development.

The international community must also manage long-standing regional conflicts, such as strife in the Middle East, the ongoing face-off between India and Pakistan, armed stalemate on the Korean Peninsula, and terrorism from both left and right in Colombia.

In all of these challenges, the United States can be more successful working with partners than working alone. Yes, our interests may sometimes differ from those of our partners, but effective cooperation does not always require identical interests, only common concerns.

There can be no single model for how multilateral cooperation works. Depending on the issue, cooperation can range from coalitions of the willing, to coalitions within Alliances in which a subset of members use Alliance capabilities, to full and formal Alliance and institutional responses. In the post-post-Cold War era, the doctrine of "flexible response" has an entirely new meaning.

Fortunately, we also live in a time when war between great powers is almost unthinkable. Let’s stop for a moment and consider what a remarkable change this is. The 20th century was defined by balance of power politics. When it broke down, it gave us two world wars. When it held, it gave us a Cold War. In both cases, defense, not development, had first call on our blood and treasure.

The true "peace dividend," then, is the newfound freedom to turn from containment and confrontation to consultation and cooperation. The United States and other global powers can move and are in fact moving from a balance of power to a pooling of power to solve problems and bring more people and countries into an expanding zone of peace and prosperity.

The best way to describe this trend is as a process of integration in which the United States works with others to promote ends that benefit everyone. Integration is the old balance of power turned on its head. It is an inclusive approach to international relations that involves creating ties between and among countries at all levels, from individuals to institutions to governments to multinational organizations. These ties link integrated countries in arrangements that help create and sustain a world consistent with the interests and values we share with our partners -- such as rule of law, open trade, the peaceful settlement of conflicts -- and in which these values and their benefits are enjoyed as widely as possible.

The U.S.-Russian Relationship in the Post-Post-Cold War World

Given today’s international landscape, it is clearly in the interest of both the United States and Russia that Russia be fully integrated into this post-post-Cold War world.

Russia can be a critical partner in building security and stability in the regions it borders -- Europe, Central Asia, and the Far East. After half a century in which we viewed the Soviet Union as the primary threat to stability in these regions, we can now work with a democratizing Russia to help integrate these areas more fully into the global system.

Russia is also a necessary partner in addressing today’s many transnational and global challenges. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a nation with broad international reach, Russia must be part of the solution to such threats as terrorism, proliferation, HIV/AIDS, and environmental degradation.

Finally, there is a high opportunity cost -- in two ways -- if the United States, Russia, and Europe fail to seize the moment to integrate Russia into Western and international norms and institutions. On one hand is the risk of forfeiting the contribution a prosperous, democratic, self-confident Russia could make to global prosperity, particularly in energy, aeronautics, and other high-tech fields. On the other, a failed or isolated Russia would represent yet another source of transnational threats -- from loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, to large migration flows into Central and Western Europe, to drugs and disease.

It used to be axiomatic that if something was good for the United States, it was bad for Russia, and vice versa. But integration is also good for Russia. The Russians here today can probably make the argument much better than I can, but let me try from an American perspective.

Integration is the key both for Russian’s internal development and for its international position. Indeed, the two are intertwined. Only by turning away from old habits of insularity and autarchy can Russia enlist the United States, Europe, and others in support of its own prosperity, stability, and security.

As President Putin himself has said, Russia’s economic development and long-term prosperity require that Russia be fully integrated into the world economy and its key financial institutions. That is why Russia is continuing down the road of sometimes painful economic reform, seeking World Trade Organization membership, and forging closer links to the EU.

In recent years, Russia has enjoyed real improvement in its economic performance. But some of this reflects higher oil prices and an improved exchange rate -- favorable conditions that may not last. As this audience knows better than I, profits declined fairly dramatically last year, and the rate of growth of the Russian economy has slowed considerably. Sustaining the impressive record of economic performance of the past several years and competing effectively in the international market will require more economic reforms and investment in key sectors of the economy. To be in a position to focus its resources and attention on this critical long-term task of economic revitalization, however, Russia also needs a prolonged period of stability in its relations with other countries.

At the same time, those who govern Russia must recognize that good governance, democracy, and a vibrant civil society are prerequisites for participation in the world economy. Foreign investment will only flow where the risks do not outweigh the returns.

Integration is also essential to Russia’s security. As a European nation, Russia has much to gain from fully normalizing its relations with the individual nations and multilateral institutions of Europe. Russia needs stability, including the absence of security concerns in its front yard, and the related opportunity for growing economic interactions with Europe. Thus, it is not surprising that Russia places a high priority on building political and economic relationships with the EU and its individual member states.

The shared American, Russian, and European interest in Russia’s integration was on display earlier this week in Rome, where the NATO-Russia Council was launched. The Council represents a new era in NATO-Russia relations through a new level of Russian involvement in European security. As a start, the Council will focus its efforts in the areas of counter-terrorism, crisis management and peacekeeping, non-proliferation, theater missile defense, search and rescue at sea, military-to-military cooperation, and defense reform. Successes on this challenging agenda should open the door to additional areas for cooperation.

New bodies are important, but the real test will be whether this Forum can progress from a "talk shop" to an "action shop." It is now up to Russia and the NATO members to make this new mechanism a serious vehicle for enhanced cooperation and joint action in areas where Russia and the Alliance have traditionally been reluctant to work together.

Russia, the United States, and Europe have also begun to join forces with other like-minded nations to promote shared objectives outside the borders of Europe. President Putin’s response to September 11 has helped create a strong base of cooperation in fighting terrorism around the globe. The three of us, along with the United Nations, are cooperating closely on the Middle East in the "Madrid Quartet." The United States, Russia, France, and Britain also worked closely together in the UN Security Council to agree on a revised "smart sanctions" regime for Iraq.

U.S.-Russian relations are of course still evolving from a Cold War relationship dominated by efforts to prevent what we could do to one another to a new post-post-Cold War one based on promoting what we can do with each other. In the process, Russia and the United States are slowly moving away from a relationship that was centered on bilateral issues, first and foremost the prevention of nuclear war. To the extent the United States and Russia are still engaging in bilateral arms control, like the Treaty of Moscow, it is largely to manage the strategic relationship in a period of transition marked by continuing nuclear reductions and the likely introduction of limited ballistic missile defenses. Beyond that, arms control efforts are focused on preventing Cold War stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction from getting into the wrong hands or damaging the environment. Obviously, the United States and Russia must deal with the political and physical residue of the Cold War. But, just as RAND increasingly is devoting fewer resources to traditional nuclear security issues and more to political and economic issues, so too will this be true for the U.S.-Russian relationship.

The United States and Russia have not quite arrived at the day when their leaders meet and no one calls it a "summit" -- when it’s just a regular consultation about bilateral relations and how to cope with regional and global challenges. We don’t call Bush-Blair meetings summits, nor do they require major agreements and so-called "deliverables" to be deemed successful. When the same can be said about a meeting between the American and Russian Presidents, it will be a small but telling indicator of an increasingly normalized relationship between the two countries.

We are moving on a broad agenda of engagement with Russia. At Washington and Crawford, the Presidents announced their intention to shape a new U.S.-Russia relationship. The Moscow summit shows we are moving out in the direction the Presidents laid down: They signed a strategic offensive reductions treaty and agreed to cooperate on missile defense; pledged to further develop economic interaction, including private sector-led business and a banking dialogue; launched a new energy dialogue; expanded their counterterrorism cooperation; and reaffirmed the importance of people-to-people links.

The United States and Russia have an opportunity to do even more together. Indeed, the most important and challenging task at this stage is to define a long-term positive agenda for the bilateral relationship. It has to be about more than eliminating old Cold War threats and fighting terrorism, important as those are. The relationship must be based on new opportunities for cooperation.

Take energy, for example. As a significant supplier of energy to Europe and East Asia, Russia contributes to the diversity of global energy supplies and could become a key player in stabilizing global oil prices. There are opportunities for Western investment and joint ventures with Russian companies to improve oilfield recovery rates in Russia and to engage in joint ventures in third countries.

The United States and Russia could also cooperate in the economic development of the Russian Far East -- a region that has been experiencing socio-economic deterioration. In addition to benefiting Russia, a revival there would have positive reverberations in China, Korea and Japan.

Another area for cooperation is Central Asia, where the United States and Russia have a shared interest in the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, in halting drug and weapons trafficking, and more broadly in promoting stability, moderation, trade and development. It seems to me that assuring Russia a prominent role in the economic reconstruction of this region could go a long way towards alleviating Moscow’s concerns about the growing U.S. military presence there.

The United States, Europe and Russia together can address the large and demanding multilateral agenda that extends beyond Europe. I am talking about managing regional crises such as those in the Middle East and South Asia; tackling transnational challenges such as HIV/AIDS, drugs, and human trafficking; cooperating in the field of bioterrorism and biodefense; addressing the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, including joint work on theater missile defenses; and strengthening institutions in Europe and Asia that promote political stability and economic prosperity.

The Joint Declaration adopted at last week’s Summit provides just such a rich agenda for what it terms "a relationship based on friendship, cooperation, common values, trust, openness, and predictability."

However, as Americans and Russians look for new areas of cooperation, both sides must be realistic. The U.S.-Russian relationship has suffered too often from inflated expectations and subsequent disappointment. This was certainly the case in the early years of America’s relationship with newly independent Russia.

Even today, differences undoubtedly will continue in areas such as trade, non-proliferation policy, human rights, and Chechnya. But the United States and Russia will have to manage such differences so they don’t swamp cooperation elsewhere.

Among the most difficult issues are Iraq and its weapons programs, Iran, and North Korea. America’s and Russia’s historical experiences with each of these countries are very different, so it is not surprising to find differences in outlook. Full and open dialogue about them is thus even more important. In some cases, the United States and Russia may be able to work jointly toward a mutually desired outcome. On others, we may differ with Russia. But the ability to discuss and exchange views should be better now than it has been for a very long time.

Chechnya is more than just an irritant in the bilateral relationship. Russian tactics there, particularly against civilians, have profoundly damaged Russia’s international reputation. We recognize Russia’s right to maintain its territorial integrity and respond to terrorism. But it is clear to most observers that, as is true with other ethnic and societal conflicts, the solution must have a political as well as a security dimension. This is meant to be constructive criticism. The United States is prepared to help Russia think through how to resolve this undeniably difficult problem, if that would be welcome.

Realizing the positive opportunities in the relationship will take concerted effort by both Russia and the United States. Neither side should underestimate the obstacles to transforming the relationship and integrating Russia more deeply and permanently into the West.

For its part, Russia needs to complete its transformation into a democratic, market-oriented state. Nothing is more important. Russian leaders must recognize that this is the key to Russian prosperity, and to continued integration with the West and with international political and economic institutions. A measure of Russia’s success in this endeavor will be continued progress on political reform, human rights, religious and press freedom, rule of law, and economic reform. I would not be honest if I did not say that we are troubled by the backsliding we see in some of these areas, in particular, freedom of the press and freedom of independent political and non-governmental organizations. There will inevitably be stops and starts along the way, but the answer to problems of democracy and reform is more democracy and more reform.

Russia also has work to do to overcome the enduring legacy of distrust and suspicion that exists in Europe generally, but is particularly prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. Given the considerable historical baggage, it is naïve to think that it is sufficient for Russia to say simply: "Russia is not the Soviet Union." By the same token, Europeans who view Russia as though it were still the Soviet Union risk missing the historic opportunity to facilitate Russia’s continued integration into Western norms and values. As a first step, Russian firms need to be more transparent about their economic activities in this part of Europe to allay widespread concern about Russian economic penetration there. This means being open about what commercial activities they are undertaking, who is buying shares of local companies, and what is their relationship to the Russian government.

Finally, Russia must do more to defuse the largest potential and actual security threat emanating from Russia today -- its remaining Cold War stocks of weapons of mass destruction, the means for their delivery, and related technology and expertise. We will keep cooperating with Russia to eliminate, safeguard and control this material and know-how to keep it from getting into the wrong hands.

But the potential for theft of these dangerous materials is only part of the problem. We continue to have concerns about the proliferation of weapons and missile technology from Russia, be it government-sanctioned or not, in particular to Iran. It will be important to expanding our cooperative relationship that we see movement toward resolving this problem.

Clearly, Russia has much to do. So do the United States and Europe. Job One is to give more substance to a new cooperative relationship with Russia, both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis. As a first step, it is important to realize the full potential of the newly created NATO-Russia Council.

In the economic arena, the EU is deepening its interactions with Russia, and both the EU and the United States are working with Russia to help it meet the criteria necessary for WTO membership. Assuming the United States and Russia can get past the poultry dispute, we expect that Congress will lift the Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions still in place from the era when Soviet Jews were prohibited from emigrating to Israel. Creditors also need to find creative new ways to help Russia deal with its Soviet-era debt. The debt-swap program whereby we will write off some of the Soviet era debt in exchange for Russia spending the savings on non-proliferation and threat reduction programs inside Russia is one example whereby everyone benefits.

Let me conclude with five observations about the U.S.-Russian relationship going forward in the post-post-Cold War world:

First, it will take hard and sustained effort to make the U.S.-Russian relationship work. Both sides must recognize and accept that the two countries are unequal in virtually every measure of wealth and power including population, GNP, and military strength. This is a particularly difficult adjustment, coming as it does after the era of considerable U.S.-Soviet parity, but without that adjustment, the relationship will suffer from unrealistic expectations on both sides.

Second, there is no structural reason why the United States and Russia can’t have good relations. The two countries are not rivals, they do not share a disputed border, there is no history of ethnic hatred between them, and there is no longer a fundamental clash of ideology. However, Americans and Russians must still overcome the strong legacy of suspicion on both sides that is ingrained in individuals, bureaucracies and institutions. This won’t happen overnight. It will take a generation of working together, visiting and studying in each other’s countries, and learning to trust each other. It is good that our leaders bond, but our peoples must bond more.

Third, the United States and Russia must accord a high priority to the economic and commercial aspect of the relationship, including energy policy. Russia’s social and political development hinges on economic growth. Russia is a rich land, and the two countries should work intensively together to ensure that Russia’s people benefit from Russia’s wealth.

Fourth, there is a limit to what the United States can do for Russia. We will do all we can to help, but it is up to Russia to stay on the road of good governance, and political and economic reform. Indeed, we must not promise more than we can deliver. We need to put our resources into making this relationship work, not into vain hopes of buying Russian reform.

Finally, both the United States and Europe need to improve the quality of consultations with Russia. When either Americans or Europeans are about to make decisions that have an impact on Russia or the relationship, they owe it to Russia to consult in advance, not simply announce a decision after the fact. That does not mean Russia will have a veto, but it does mean decisions will be made with full knowledge of the impact on the relationship. And, we expect our Russian partner to do likewise.

Conclusion -- Winning the Peace through Integration

Unlike the conflicts leading up to the World Wars, the Cold War ended peacefully. That was a remarkable accomplishment.

Still, history warns that we must also win the peace, and that requires the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and open Russia, fully integrated into the global community, a Russia that will be a full partner in meeting pressing regional and global challenges.

World War II was a great victory that would not have been possible without the combined efforts of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the other allies. But after the War, the Soviet Union missed a historic opportunity to integrate into the West. While former adversaries such as Germany participated in the Marshall Plan, joined the Bretton Woods institutions, and built prosperous, democratic countries, the Soviet Union chose a path of isolation behind its Iron Curtain.

Now, with the new century, opportunity has come knocking again. As President Bush told the Bundestag last week, "Russia has its best chance since 1917 to become part of Europe’s family." For the sake of the American people, the Russian people, and the world’s people, this most recent opportunity to integrate Russia must not be lost. Thank you.


For texts of other statements, testimony and articles by Richard Haass and other members of the Policy Planning Staff, please go to the Policy Planning home page.

Released on June 1, 2002

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