Since the end of World War II, virtually every president has attempted to reset U.S.-Russia relations. Harry S. Truman confided in his diary that he was tired of “babying” the Soviets when they didn’t carry out the obligations they had undertaken at Yalta. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Spirit of Geneva” sought to make a new start with Stalin’s successors. John F. Kennedy sought to recalibrate relations with his disastrous Vienna summit, in June 1961, which paved the way for the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Richard Nixon sought détente with the increasingly sclerotic Brezhnevite leadership. Jimmy Carter also tried to change the terms of U.S.-Soviet relations early in his term, as did Ronald Reagan, who famously proposed a new strategy—“We win, they lose.” Some of these resets were based on the need to get tougher with Russia and some were based on a desire to find common ground. But after the Cold War, all of the efforts went unrequited. The specific irritants in each case were different, but at the end of the day, all of them failed because the Russian reform project faltered in the late 1990s. As a result, rather than joining the liberal international order, Russia became a revisionist state whose fundamental orientation limited the scope for successful engagement with Moscow. That is why Trump’s reset will almost certainly fail—and a good thing, too, since accommodating Moscow’s current demands would almost certainly mean sacrificing traditional U.S. interests.
Is a U.S.-Russia Reset Possible?
Read the full article at The National Interest.