Stephen Blank: “Re: Keith Gessen’s ‘The Quiet Americans Behind the U.S.-Russia Imbroglio'”

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

Subject: Re: Keith Gessen’s “The Quiet Americans Behind the U.S.-Russia Imbroglio”
Date: Wed, 9 May 2018
From: Stephen Blank <traininblank@aol.com>

[Stephen Blank is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.]
[nytimes.com/2018/05/08/magazine/the-quiet-americans-behind-the-us-russia-imbroglio.html]

Having read Gessen’s article, I must say that it is tendentious, simplistic and unconvincing. He only solicited the view of a few people who appear to share a similar viewpoint and pilloried those diplomats whose views he does not like. As for other Russia hands and experts he did not even bother to solicit their views. So he represents nobody except a self-regarding coterie of analysts. In other words this is a polemic not an analysis. The article systematically denies any agency to Moscow and provides the usual complaint that it is America’s fault that the relationship deteriorated. Inasmuch as democracy died in Russia in 1993 by which time Yeltsin was demanding a sphere of influence in the former USSR observers need to go back and do their homework instead of ascribing Manichean powers and faults to U.S. diplomats and officials. For all those who want to go back to the Obama Administration to replace the present catastrophe that is the Trump Administration, they should remember that Obama’s policies towards Russia systematically failed and the origins of that failure lie in his White House as much as in the Kremlin. And finally those charged with conducting or formulating U.S. foreign policy do not have the task of managing hegemonic decline but of advancing U.S. interests. Believing that the former task is their mandate diplomats will only exacerbate the present conflicts and benefit Moscow not the U.S. or its allies. To do better we must go forward, not backward.