Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
21st January, 2016
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said at a Democratic Party debate held in the USA in the morning (Moscow time), in the case of victory she will force a new “reset” with Russia, but it depends what she can get in return. Clinton demonstrates a realistic approach, which is welcomed in the Kremlin, but her rhetoric will change during the election campaign.
At the Democrat debate former U.S Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said that if elected President she can start a new “reset” of relations with Russia, but going for it will depend on the readiness of Russia to make concessions.
“Well, it depends on what I get,” said Clinton, responding to a question about the possibility of a new “reset” with Russia, given to her during a debate between representatives of the US Democratic party.
Clinton said that during her work in the administration, a “reset” policy had brought US a new Treaty to reduce nuclear arms, the opening of transit for the delivery of U.S. troops and NATO into Afghanistan, as well as support for U.S. sanctions in Iran. “In diplomacy it is always important to deal with the interests of the other side — continued the ex-Secretary of state. And to understand, whether you promote (the interests of) their own safety and their own values.”
As Secretary of State Clinton was an active proponent of the “reset” policy with Russia, together with the Vice President of USA, Joe Biden. The idea of the “reset” is to change the tone of foreign policy via dialogue with Russia, which was stalled after the military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008. “All dialogue then ceased and it seemed that we were at a very low point, now we know it have gotten a lot worse,” said a political scientist in American studies, Igor Zevelev, to Gazeta.ru.
The new assistant to U.S. President Barack Obama, Michael McFaul, developed the ideas that formed the basis of a “reboot”. Subsequently, McFaul was the Ambassador to Russia. He was the first in many years, a political appointee who focused on “soft power” — the collaboration with Russian civil society and political opposition.
The “reset” started with the pressing of a symbolic button that U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pressed together with the Russian foreign Minister Lavrov in March 2009. However, the Russian name “reboot” was written on the button as “overload” because of an error in translation. The “reset” policy promoted by the figure of the President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, whose foreign policy rhetoric was much milder than that of President Putin. Besides, Medvedev established a good personal relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.
According to Clinton, the achievements of the “reset” include the signing of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, the opening to transit of non-military cargoes of the USA and NATO through Russian territory (the U.S. did not use transit because of its high cost), as well as Russia’s support of sanctions against Iran. Part of the American experts believe that due to the positive signals from Washington, Russia also abstained in 2011 against the veto on the resolution on Libya. The adoption of this document actually gave the “green light” of the US military and NATO in this country. However, the President of Russia was involved in a dispute with Prime Minister Medvedev, who spoke strongly against it. There have been some steps towards Russia during the “reset” by the USA — President Obama created reduction in the plans of his predecessor George Bush’s ABM system in Europe, as well as pushing aside plans for the acceptance into NATO of Georgia and Ukraine. As was told earlier in an interview to “Gazeta.ru” by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, the issue of NATO expansion “seemed to be closed”.
The idea of the “reset” had largely disappeared by the end of Medvedev’s presidency. Both countries began to accumulate mutual irritation for each other. Having failed to obtain assurances from the U.S that the U.S. missile defense was not directed against Russia, Medvedev threatened to place “Iskander” rocket complexes in Kaliningrad.
The appeal of Clinton to “reset”, which she recorded on the net, looked like the desire to remind voters of her role in U.S. foreign policy. Clinton was the only presidential candidate who has experience in a very high position in the White House, and this sets her apart from other candidates. Clinton herself said she had a “respectful” relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although she noted, “there were very hard moments of communication with each other”.
According to political analyst Viktor Mizin, a specialist in the field of Russian-American relations, Clinton needs to remind them of their foreign policy achievements on the Russian direction, and try to “manoeuvre, showing her uncharacteristic flexibility.” He recalled that earlier Clinton spoke rather harshly about Russia. The expert suggested that the statements about a possible “reset” are connected with popular rival-Republican Donald trump, who recently said he was ready to establish relations with Russian President Putin.
However, despite the popularity of the party and her solid experience, to convince voters that she’s good with foreign policy will be hard. She can’t be forgiven for the story in Libya, where in 2012, the American Ambassador was killed. It happened, according to her opponents, because of her neglect of security issues at the Embassy. In addition, Clinton struck a scandal with the use of a private mailbox for business purposes.
A Professor of American studies, Igor Zevelev, believes that the value of the Clinton’s speech should not be underestimated since they align with Obama’s policies, the essence of which is “get tough and at the same time leave an opportunity for dialogue”. In this case, Clinton, said Zevelev, manifests herself as the representative of the realist school, when she says that they are ready to make concessions, getting something in return. “This approach is always welcomed in Russia,” says Zevelev.
It should be noted that in recent times the debate about a more realistic foreign policy is actively underway in various expert circles of the USA. “If at the head of the American foreign policy of the last 20 years were realists, many failures that have cost us too much, could have been avoided,” notes Foreign Policy magazine.