Russia House

editorial

2016-05-27
Kosovo: Hillary Clintons Legacy of Terror
The 'liberation' of Kosovo unleashed radical Islamism in Europe

By Justin Raimondo
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2016-05-27
Some Light in Iraqs Dark Tunnel

By Graham E. Fuller
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2016-05-27
West could sleepwalk into a Doomsday war with Russia - it's time to wake up

By Richard Sakwa
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2016-05-27
Beyond Cold War to Mobilization for War Against Russia?
The large-scale US-NATO amassing of military force on Russia's Western borders, NATO's "Eastern Front," is unprecedented and creates the impression of preparation for actual war.

By Stephen F. Cohen

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2016-05-25
Are Anne Applebaum and Ed Lucas Phonies or Just Innocently Insane?
Their rhetoric doesn't seem to add up and make sense

By William Dunkerley
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2016-05-25
More Game-Playing on MH-17?

By Robert Parry
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2016-05-25
Why Obama Accused Russia of Showing No Interest in Nuke Reduction
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2016-05-24
Has Russia Really Nothing to Fear From American Anti-Missile Sites in Eastern Europe?
Americans are telling their sites in Poland and Romania are of no concern to Moscow but when Kissinger (erronously) thought Soviets were building sites in Cuba Washington nearly had a stroke

By James Carden
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2016-05-24
NATO, Russia and the lost art of diplomacy

A former NATO leader says there is a real risk of war with Russia as early as 2017. Arm up or face the consequences is the advice. Whatever happened to diplomacy, asks Fiona Clark.
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2016-05-24
Intel Vets Urge Fast Report on Clintons Emails
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Russia House

2012-04-13

Is There a Problem With the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow?

Edward LOZANSKY, President, American University in Moscow

According to standard, generally accepted rules of diplomacy, an ambassadors responsibilities include meeting officials, attending government ceremonies, receiving and analyzing reports from his staff and operatives, and sending regular correspondence back home with his/her comments and advice.

Mike McFaul, however, apparently finds this diplomatic routine too boring and does not intend to stick within its limits during his tenure in Moscow. Mike is by nature an activist who likes to work in the field and who has never concealed his dedication to the idea of democracy promotion throughout the world despite the pretty dismal record of color revolutions throughout the post-Soviet space. One does not have to read all his books, just look at titles like the self-explanatory Russias Unfinished Revolution, to realize what his priorities in Russia are.

McFaul definitely understands that Russia, democratic or not, is an important international player whose help America often needs to meet global security challenges. In many observers view he is the chief architect of the reset policy to improve U.S.- Russian relations after eight years of George Bushs disastrous presidency. At the same time he has to keep his guard up if he wishes to please many folks back home who consider the reset to be Obamas greatest failure and a policy of appeasement to Moscow. To pacify those critics McFaul resorts to what is known as a dual track policy that of talking both with government officials and the opposition.

Torn between his own interests, an ambassadors obligations and domestic infighting among different pressure groups, McFaul is clearly in a very difficult position. Life at Stanford must surely have been much more quiet and comfortable.

I foresaw some of McFauls future troubles already at the time of the nomination hearings at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Having the privilege of attending those hearings, I must admit I was a little bit puzzled by his statement regarding the way he saw his future responsibilities as U.S. ambassador to Moscow. Confirming that he would do what he thought was best for America he also added that Washington was not in the business of pleasing Moscow.

Indeed, U.S. ambassadors have to care first and foremost about American interests. That goes without saying. Still, they usually do not publicly demonstrate their disregard for the countrys interests where they are posted. It is just not done. Professional diplomats can always be relied on uttering some platitudes.

Not so with McFaul. A few days ago, when asked about the meaning of Obamas private remarks to Medvedev that were supposed to appease the Kremlins missile defense fears and were overheard by reporters, he bluntly said: "It means we are going to build whatever missile defense system we need." Such, mildly speaking, problematic statements may score him some points with reset critics but will president Obama approve of this rhetoric?

Again, McFaul is absolutely right when he says that his job is to do what is best for America. The real question is, though, what particular role played by an ambassador will benefit America most? Searching for pragmatic and mutually beneficial approaches to common global challenges, pleasing the Mitt Romney John McCain crowd, or hopelessly trying to reshape Russia to his liking?

Let us admit that McFaul has a tough job ahead of him and he deserves our full support and sympathy. However, if he wants to succeed in Moscow, his transition from scholar-activist to diplomat has to be completed sooner rather than later.

"Russia Profile"