Competitor or Enemy? Media Points to US mistakes in Relations with Russia


WASHINGTON, The United States – Current US officials have neither the experience nor the patience to deal with competing countries, so the current US strategy toward Russia does not work, writes the editor of The National Interest, Nikolas Gvosdev.

According to him, in theory, Washington’s policy towards Moscow must be based on two interlinked principles: to prevent or reverse Russian actions against which objections exist and at the same time to establish contacts in areas of mutual interest.

However, the US is not able to put it into practice, especially because Americans still see the world as they saw it in the 1990s when they were the only power. At that time, no country or group of countries could prevent the United States from following its line in the international arena. Countries generally agreed with this policy or practically could not oppose anything, since they had neither the strength nor the means to confront US policies, Gvosdev notes. Now the world is beginning to “return to normal” in terms of the general laws of human history.

The US continues to be the leading military and economic powerhouse, but there are countries that have now acquired the strength and means to fight US dominance and defend their own interests, the article notes. But according to the writer of the publication, the US political establishment does not have the experience or the patience to deal with those countries.

In particular, the US does not understand the difference between the terms “competitor” and “enemy”, as they are accustomed to putting everything together, believing that any rivalry factor is a sign of hostility. Because of this there is increasing tension in relations with long-standing partners in Europe and Asia, Gvosdev emphasizes.

The United States needs to understand the difference between rivalry and hostility in relations with Russia. If in the 1990s the Russians wanted to become part of the West, now they are pursuing their own policy and becoming serious competitors to the Americans, but not enemies.

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To deal with Russia as a serious competitor, one must understand how to compete with it, given the size of its economy and military capability.

Gvosdev adds that Russia has clearly shown that in the short and medium term it will have sufficient strength and resources to confront the United States, which cannot be ignored. The country is one of the few in the world capable of demonstrating its strength beyond its borders, being almost equal to the United States in terms of population, industrial-military complex and wealth of resources. Even if it faces long-term problems, Russia will remain a major force in the international arena.

The magazine’s editor points out that US politicians need to decide which strategic path to follow. The first is to turn an almost equal competitor into a nearly equal partner; the other is to turn an almost equal competitor (and potential enemy) into an unequal competitor.

But we must not forget that these are completely different paths and in their implementation different approaches are required with varying degrees of resources and risks.

Gvosdev concludes that it should be remembered that Russia is a nuclear power.

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