Fyodor Lukyanov, writing in the Moscow Times, notes the current American presidential campaign has witnessed both Obama and McCain spouting anti-Russian rhetoric aimed at voters whose ancestors came from east European nations and who hate and fear Russia. “But,” he writes, “that does not mean the heated rhetoric the candidates use on the campaign trail will necessarily translate into actual foreign policy later.” He blames George Bush for developing a foreign policy based on an American right to do as it desired as a factor in creating tension between Russia and the United States. The building of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic has frightened Russia and Bush’s encouragement of the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia led to the current anger between the nations.
Barack Obama has an opportunity to venture in new directions with Russia. An important first step would be to cancel the missile bases and sit down with Russian leaders in an effort to deal with issues such as Iranian development of nuclear power. A second step would be to encourage Georgia to work with South Ossetia by recognizing their right to autonomy. A third step would be to halt any further expansion of NATO eastward. Russia would then be prepared to cooperate with the EU and the United States on many foreign policy needs.