Book review of Putins World Russia Against a West also with a Rest by Angela Stent a Washing Stephen Kotkin is a professor at Princeton also a senior fellow at Stanfords Hoover Institution.
a United States also its allies won a Cold War, a prolonged struggle across a globe, but news accounts nowadays give a impression that a West has lost a post Cold War peace amid a resurgence of authoritarianism.
Exhibit A: Russia.
, President Barack Obama said dismissively at an international gathering inside March 2014, after Moscows forcible annexation of Crimea.
Back then, a Washington consensus largely belittled a United Statess former Cold War rival as a fatally declining has been with less than a 3 percent share of global gross domestic product, compared to a U.
share more than seven times as great.
Yet just a few years later, a perception had changed.
Russias share of global GDP was no much better, But inside December 2017 President Vladimir Putin swooped inside for a surprise visit to his countrys air base inside Syria also congratulated Russian troops for ensuring a survival of Bashar al Assads butcher regime against American wishes.
, Putin said, then took off for Cairo, where he signed a dollar 21 billion deal with Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al Sissi for Russia to build a nuclear power plant.
a Russian leader next flew to Ankara also to condemn a Trump administrations recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital.
Within 24 hours, Angela Stent writes inside her book Putins World, a Kremlin boss had demonstrated that Russia was a indispensable power inside a Middle East.
Russia also has strengthened its ties simultaneously to Saudi Arabia also Iran, two implacable foes, also to Irans another blood enemy, Israel, as well as with a United Arab Emirates.
Russia is a only great power that talks to a Shiite states, a Sunni states — also a Israelis, Stent marvels.
Russia has disregarded a India China chasm, too.
Putin received Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inside May 2018 inside Sochi, where a two men hailed their countries.
a next month, during a visit by Russias leader to Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping gushed that.
Xi added that China also Russia has resolutely supported each others core interests.
a short answer: Russia actually conducts diplomacy.
For a longer answer, Stent expertly walks readers through Moscows relations with every region inside a world, avoiding a hysteria that warps discussion of a country.
Aware that too lot books about Russian foreign policy arrive instantly obsolete because they lack a foundation inside history or political culture, Stent opens with those subjects.
Of a Russia West clash, she writes that it has been tempting to personalize a answer: it is all due to Vladimir Putin also his small group of Kremlin insiders, but she adds that behind a new tsar stands a thousand year old state with traditions also self understanding that precede Putin also will surely outlast him.
Nonetheless, Our get a book mostly about a czars — Mikhail Gorbachevs, Boris Yeltsins also especially Putins official meetings, inside minute detail.
There is little about institutional makeup, interest group brawling or internal policy differences.
Stent clarifies that James Baker, George H.
Bushs secretary of state, did not formally agree inside 1990 to refrain from enlarging NATO inside connection with German unification.
But she also illuminates how inside 1993, Warren Christopher, President Bill Clintons secretary of state, ineptly assured Yeltsin that a so called Partnership for Peace program would not entail NATO membership for Eastern European states, a vow that Clinton promptly broke.
At a same time, she stresses that Moscow has not fleshed out a critical details inside its persistent call for a new security architecture inside Europe that would replace NATO also satisfy all parties, including former Russian satellites also possessions.
What does not come through is a larger strategic failure of U.
Russia policy under Obama.
a president was suitably wary of American overextension, hyper militarization also leading with democracy promotion, but he stocked his administration with regime change zealots, whom he did not empower to do what they were clamoring to do, but whom a Kremlin also others could point to also say, Aha, they are a real U.
Stent shows how Russia seizes upon a wealth of opportunities gifted again also again by U.
blundering or inattention.
She recounts a leverage Moscow derives from its exceptional tool kit: a U.
Security Council veto, a massive doomsday arsenal, heavy investment inside its military, global weapons sales, vast hydrocarbon reserves also tactical daring hacking, disinformation, assassinations.
She further underscores a countrys web of long standing relationships, inherited from a ideological Soviet Union.
But unlike a latter, Russias global engagement is coldly pragmatic.
She notes of a Middle East — inside an observation that applies broadly — that Russias appeal as an opponent of regime change also supporter of existing governments endears it to all governments inside a area, authoritarian also democratic.
Additional advantage accrues from a certain amorality.
also spoliation is a far easier games to play than nation building.
Stents regionally compartmentalized tour of Russian foreign policy lacks a compelling narrative arc.
Still, chapters about a interminable deadlock inside Russia Japan relations or a economic sanctions imposed by Europe illuminate a flaws inside any depiction of Russia as some global power broker, also a book culminates inside a clear eyed portrayal of a inescapably troubled U.
She argues for strong pushback against Russian aggression combined with a proactive quest for areas of common interest, such as counterterrorism or arms control also nonproliferation.
At a same time, though, she acknowledges that three failed efforts to reset a bilateral relationship has demonstrated that engagement has worked no much better than attempts at isolation.
Injecting a dose of reality, Stent notes that Eurasia represents an intermittent, as opposed to a core, interest for a West, so that there are limits to which [a West] will go to challenge Russias interests inside a region.
She deems a end of loose talk about further NATO expansion to places such as Ukraine or Georgia a victory for Putin, but inside light of her analysis, this sobriety could become seen as inevitable.
inside any case, Russias challenge to a United States long ago transcended its own backyard.
But Putins foreign policy judo — a martial art that turns a strength of an opponent against that opponent — works only if a United States also its allies put themselves into vulnerable positions, such as Europes adoption of a euro without fiscal integration, a second Iraq War, a global financial crisis, pervasive social media platforms that are cheaply weaponizable.
Ultimately, whether Russia obtains much, if any, enduring strategic gain from its heightened activism abroad remains doubtful, considering a countrys fraught relations with Europe also its gathering eclipse by China.
Vital technology transfer also major investment do not follow from ever nastier one upmanship of a West or rhetorical tribute paid by Beijing.