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Slaughter:    Russia is a tricky, trick country and it’s made all the harder because we think we know Russia ‘cause we think we, at least, the Cold War generation thinks we know the Soviet Union.  We have lots of stereotypes that we’re not even aware of and the new generation of policy makers has no experience with Russia.  Russia wasn’t even on their radar screen.  So, you have a real lacuna of experts who are thinking about the country Russia is today, not the country Russia was in 1980 or 1990 or 2000 and who are genuinely expert.  That means we need to proceed with real care.  It would be wonderful if President Obama could find the way simultaneously to give Russia some of the acknowledgement it so craves as a great power, but at the same time, draw some real red lines, ‘cause that’s got to be our policy.  We have to make very clear, very clear where those lines are, but we also have to listen to the Russians.  I mean, the Russians have actually been pretty frank about what they thought were red lines and they were very clear with respect to Georgia that they were going to look at Ossetia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia, those were enclaves that they were not going to let Georgia take over.  We have to pay attention when they say that.  We have to treat that as we would if China or the EU or any other major power told us these are our vital interest, we have to pay attention ‘cause we expect them to pay attention to us.  We also have to acknowledge where, in fact, the current Russian government has improved a lot of the Russian people and we have to avoid looking at the current implosion of the Russian economy and thinking, well, that’s great.  They’re going to go down again.  That’s trouble for us.  That’s major trouble, because in the end, the Russian government is not going to stand by and lose support. 

 

Anne-Marie Slaughter on Russia

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