Monday, January 9, 2017

Reject the Binary in US Foreign Policy

On Twitter over the weekend, Donald Trump issued a series of tweets on Russia that were a cause for both relief and frustration:

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Of course, he is right that it is important for the US to have a good relationship with Russia. Amidst all the hysteria over alleged Russian hacking, it’s a very good sign that the President-elect still seems to be holding firm on his plans to improve relations.
The problem is that the improvement only needs to go so far. The goal is trade and peace with Russia, not an overt alliance. Trump’s suggestion, here and previously, that the US and Russia should work together is an ominous one.
The worst case scenario is a new and expanded War on Terror with Russia as a partner. This would be useless as far as counterterrorism is concerned, since the War on Terror itself has proven to be one of the most effective recruitment tools for jihadists. And it would require the US getting in bed with yet another repressive government–and one that happens to have its own reputation for using heavy-handed tactics against predominantly Muslim populations.  Few things would be more useful for fulfilling the extremist narrative of a modern-day crusade against Islam.
The risk of a US-Russian alliance exists, in large part, because of US politicians’ unwillingness to pursue relations outside the bounds of “either with us or against us.”

It’s high time for some imagination here. There is a third way between alliance and animosity. That third way is simply peace. And it should be the goal with Russia and everyone else.

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