Russia House

editorial

2014-12-11
Why I Voted against Condemning Russia

Recently, the House passed, by an overwhelming margin, a resolution to condemn the Russian Federation. Ten Members voted nay, myself among them. I wish to explain why I took this unpopular position.

Dana Rohrarbacher
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2014-12-10
Dont Risk War With Russia
Washington rushes to court open conflict with Moscow against every rational interest.

By Phillip Giraldi
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2014-11-27
Why Ukraine Must Bargain for Peace With Russia. The "let's make a deal" moment has arrived for Kiev and Moscow. But by pushing a hard-line agenda against Putin, the United States and Europe are only making things worse for Ukraine.

By Samuel Charap - "Foreign Policy"
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2014-11-15
Russia Just Gave France A Final Deadline To Hand Over The Mistral Warship

By Tomas Hirst
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2014-11-11
The West's Fatal Russia Mistakes: 1989-2014
When the Berlin wall came down the West had an historic chance to find a strong friendly ally in Russia.
Western mistakes over the following years has lead to the exact opposite.
The US to must reverse its policy of hegemony, and pursue multilateralism. Anything else will lead to continued conflict

By Edward Lozansky
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2014-11-03
Genuine, Handcrafted, Man-Made Government

By Tom Engelhardt
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2014-11-01
A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

By Seumas Milne
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2024-10-14
Abbott v Putin: Will the G20 turn into a naked wrestling match?

How much machismo can Australians take? Bringing loutish language to the G20 serves no one but Putin

By Jazz Twemlow


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2014-10-06
Vaclav Klaus: the Wests lies about Russia are monstrous
An interview with the former Czech president, possibly the Wests last truly outspoken leader
By Neil Clark
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2014-10-04
Why Russia's President Is 'Putin the Great' in China
Like Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin Is Seen as a Strong Leader Who Isn't Afraid to Confront the West

By JEREMY PAGE

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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"