The tensions between Moscow and Washington that seem to wreck any efforts at closer ties are structural, not political. There is no magic formula that will change how Russia and the U.S. frame their interests or allow them to resolve their disagreements. Given this reality, President Barack Obama must not let himself be pushed by domestic political considerations into overreacting to Russian provocations.

The Realist Prism: Don’t Hold U.S.-Russia Ties Hostage to Snowden

By , , Column

Seven years ago, the dominant Democratic narrative explaining the decline in America’s standing in the world was due largely to Republican incompetence in foreign policy matters, with the Iraq War presented as Exhibit A. If Democrats returned to power, it was intimated, the United States would regain its international position. American allies, starting with the Europeans, would fall in line to support U.S. security initiatives; multilateral institutions would work because Democrats would demonstrate their superior negotiating techniques; and when it came to dealing with "difficult" regimes like China or Russia, Democrats would show the “cowboys” in the George W. Bush administration how diplomacy was done.

These arguments resonated with many Americans. Concerns about how Republicans had mishandled U.S. national security contributed to the Democrats retaking control of both houses of Congress in 2006, and, while most voters in 2008 listed the domestic economy as their prime concern, the belief that Barack Obama would be a steadier figure to guide U.S. foreign policy than John McCain helped cement the former's victory. ...

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