US Policy Changes Vol.49 (Foreign Policy Vol.8)

Here are articles on foreign policy. Excerpts are on our own.

“A Blueprint for Donald Trump to Fix Relations with Russia” – A policy memo to the president-elect. Priority: High (12/18/2016) | Graham Allison & Dimitri K. Simes @TheNatlInterest
… Russia today offers your administration not only a serious challenge but a significant opportunity.
First and foremost, Russia remains the only nation that can erase the United States from the map in thirty minutes. Second, Russia is key to preventing nuclear terrorism as well as proliferation of other weapons of mass destruction and missile-delivery systems. Third, Russia’s decisions on whether to share intelligence, or withhold it, significantly affect odds of preventing attacks by terrorists on U.S. citizens and assets across the world. Fourth, Russia is the largest country on Earth by land area, bordering China to the East, Poland in the West, and the United States across the Arctic. … Fifth, Russia’s Soviet-era scientific establishment and post-Soviet achievements make it a global leader in science and technology, particularly in high-tech military hardware. These talents allow it to mount formidable cyber capabilities, second only to the United States… Sixth, Russia is prepared to fight: it has demonstrated both the capability and the will to use military force to achieve its objectives… Seventh, Russia’s potential as a spoiler is difficult to exaggerate? from selling advanced systems like S-300 air defenses to Iran to aligning militarily with China.
…we suggest you remind everyone of the mantra under which both Democratic and Republican presidents fought the Cold War. It affirmed that Americans’ primary purpose in the world was to “preserve the United States as a free nation with our fundamental institutions and values intact.” To that end, they set about building a new world order aimed at advancing the cause of peace, prosperity and freedom for all: for Americans, their allies and other nations, in that order. While some now see that hierarchy as shortsightedly selfish or unworthy of a great power, the brute fact is that the survival and success of the United States is the essential prerequisite for American power to be applied to achieve any other objective in the world. …
… Each left office with the relationship in worse condition than when he arrived. President Obama began by announcing a “reset” in relations with Russia to secure Moscow’s cooperation on a number of priorities, including his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. As his term ends, U.S. and Russian aircraft are operating in close proximity, attacking targets in Syria with minimum communication and no coordination. … For the first time since the 1980s, military planners on both sides have been reexamining options that include the actual use of nuclear weapons. …
… We share the president’s judgment that American national interests do not justify that level of expenditure of American blood and treasure. Rather, the point is that successful strategy requires aligning ends and means. …
…two narratives. On the one hand, it claims that Russia is a loser who “doesn’t matter anymore,”… On the other hand…in its final years, when facing intractable international problems, Obama’s instinct has been to “blame Russia first.” …
…what Obama’s “or” really means is that Putin’s Russia should repent, reverse course, and follow in the footsteps of Germany and Japan in accepting its place in a unipolar, American-led international order. … Russia is too big, too powerful and too committed to maintaining its sovereignty as a great power to become a supplicant in an American-dominated world order. …
Kissinger’s alternative…is to seek to integrate Russia into an international order that takes into account Moscow’s minimum essential interests. That would begin with recognition that Russia remains a great power with sovereign interests and from there explore “whether their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities.” Critically, this would mean treating Putin personally as the strong leader of a major power he clearly is…
THE OBJECTIVE of American policy… Rather, it is to advance vital U.S. national interests. As seen during Obama’s second term, when treated primarily as a “foe,” Russia can undermine important American objectives. If it can be persuaded to act more as a partner, within the framework of a sustainable, if difficult, working relationship, Moscow can help advance U.S. foreign-policy objectives in a number of ways.
First, productive relations between Russia and the United States are essential to avoiding war, including nuclear war. …
… Hard as it is to imagine from Washington, Russia’s national-security establishment has become seriously alarmed about what it sees as American developments and plans to undermine its nuclear deterrent. … President Putin…“I would like to emphasize that attempts to break strategic parity are extremely dangerous and can lead to a global catastrophe. …
Russian planners’ response to this fear has been to lower the threshold for their own use of nuclear weapons…in what they call hybrid warfare. …“escalatory deescalation”: if they were losing a conventional conflict in, for example, Ukraine or the Baltics, they would conduct a limited nuclear attack aimed at “deescalating” the war. …
Second, U.S.-Russia cooperation can advance both nations’ counterterrorism goals, including the wars against ISIS and Al Qaeda. …
Third, Russia is also uniquely suited to help prevent both terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda and state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons. …
Fourth, U.S. strategic interests require preventing an alliance or even alignment between Moscow and Beijing. …
EVERYONE KNOWS that Russia is a dangerous, difficult, often disappointing state with which to try to do business. …
As the first step in crafting of such a policy, we recommend that your administration develop a clear hierarchy of American priorities. …
Second, in this spirit you should prepare carefully for an early one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin to change the dynamics in the relationship. …
Third, your meeting with Putin should be followed by revival of government-to-government dialogue with Russia, beginning with ways to prevent an accidental war between the United States and Russia, including nuclear war. …
Fourth, you should change the overall U.S. approach toward the Syrian conflict. …
Fifth, though you have previously expressed skepticism about greater U.S. involvement in resolution of the Ukraine conflict, we believe you should join the efforts of European powers to find a solution, if only because this conflict also risks military confrontation with Moscow. …
…Kissinger remained optimistic about “the possibility of some cooperation between the West and Russia in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine.” …
… To demonstrate its strength, America should use military deployments and private warnings (so as to avoid publicly cornering Putin) to communicate to Moscow that unilateral solutions will not work in either Syria or Ukraine. …
Sixth, you should strengthen U.S. military capabilities in ways that simultaneously dissuade Russia from aggression (both overt and covert) against NATO allies in Europe and respect Russia’s legitimate interest in ethnic Russians living in the former Soviet Union. …
… Combining investment in U.S. capabilities with calculated use of your reputation for unpredictability could be particularly useful, much as Nixon cultivated the image of a “madman” to enhance his leverage in Southeast Asia. …
Accordingly, the United States should reiterate its commitment to defend the Baltic states from naked aggression, in concert with other allies, but insist that the Baltic governments themselves attempt to normalize relations with Moscow…
Seventh… We suggest treating Russia the way the United States treats other undemocratic nations with whom it is friendly, such as Saudi Arabia.
Eighth…give greater consideration to Russia’s possible and likely responses in making policy decisions. …
Ninth, you should seek ways to expand the economic foundation of the bilateral relationship. …
Last but not least… for your sharp turn in policy to succeed, you will need to make your case directly to the American people—something you have done many times during the campaign. …

The Kindleberger Trap (1/9/2016) | @Joe_Nye @ProSyn
…“Thucydides Trap,”… …seems too weak rather than too strong.
Small countries have little incentive to pay for such global public goods. Because their small contributions make little difference to whether they benefit or not, it is rational for them to ride for free. …
…not to overthrow the liberal world order from which it benefits, but to increase its influence within it. …
…in 12 of 16 cases since 1500…
…Donald Kagan… Before the war broke out in 431 BC, the balance of power had begun to stabilize. Athenian policy mistakes made the Spartans think that war might be worth the risk. …

A Conservative’s Prescriptive Policy Checklist: U.S. Foreign Policies in the Next Four Years to Shape a New World Order (PDF; Jan 2017) | Amb. Robert D. Blackwill @BelferCenter
(cf. abstract | @BelferCenter)
Vital U.S. National Interests
U.S. Policy Prescriptions For The Period Ahead
General
U.S. Alliances/Partnerships
The Greater Middle East
Adversaries
Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa
Nuclear Proliferation
U.S. Energy Exploitation and Climate
Cyber
International Organizations
…the next several years of U.S. foreign policy will be laden with crises. With America’s international position fundamentally weakened during the Obama presidency and given Trump’s unorthodox approach to the major external issues facing the United States, both U.S. allies and adversaries will test the new President’s strategic vision; the purpose, clarity and consistency of his policies; and the quality of his diplomacy. …