We believe that it is imperative that both the US and Russia abandon the cold war mentality that has plagued the relationship over the past decade and initiate a process of dialogue and diplomacy leading to the normalization of relations between the two countries.
For too long, as our esteemed board member, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock reminds us, there has been too much emphasis on summits as solutions in themselves. Successful ones have to be prepared quietly. Both sides have to want them to succeed and they cannot if one is convinced that the other side is out to remove the leadership of the other country.
Instead we need to find ways to “do no harm” and halt the deterioration of relations and the seemingly endless cycle of recriminations. We need to start thinking in new and creative ways – in short, it is time for a new approach – one that focuses on conciliation.
For such an approach to succeed, the U.S. might focus more on getting its own house in order, and less on lecturing Russia on “human rights.” We might valuably differentiate between contentious issues that are vital to our national interests and those that are not. We might usefully recognize that Russia has its own national security issues of concern, especially in its own neighborhood.