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The Realist Prism: U.S.-Russia Reset on Display in Afghanistan

Nikolas Gvosdev Friday, July 1, 2011

For the past 20 years, American and Russian policymakers have been searching for "the big thing" that would serve as the foundation for an effective and durable partnership between the two countries. In the months following Sept. 11, for instance, there was a sense that the "war on terror" might recreate a "grand alliance" between Moscow and Washington akin to the World War II partnership against the Nazis. But grandiose schemes for a revamped European security architecture and even a U.S.-Russia strategic alliance have foundered because realities could never match the rhetoric.

Learning from these missteps, the Obama and Medvedev administrations have instead concentrated their efforts on small-scale projects, to build up the habits of cooperation between the two countries, especially their defense and national security establishments. Ironically, Afghanistan, which two decades ago was one of the principal geopolitical battlefields of the Cold War, is now one of the areas where the "reset" is showing the most concrete results. ...

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