The U.S. should respect its alliance with Russia

The+U.S.+should+respect+its+alliance+with+Russia

Henry Koontz

Some American politicians have suggested that the U.S. should not try to have a friendly relationship with Russia but rather should view them as a dangerous threat to U.S. interests.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton said, “We have to do more talking about how we try to confine, contain, deter Russian aggression in Europe and beyond.”

Republicans like John McCain have also been very critical of Russia and have described their government as an “adversary.”

Many of these politicians have suggested actively countering Russian military operations in Crimea and Syria and slapping them with harsh economic sanctions.

The justification for these proposals is that Russia is a threat to U.S. interests, and Putin is a dangerous man who must be opposed. But is Russia really the threat these politicians make it out to be? Not at all.

One common argument for those viewing Russia as a threat is that Russia’s invasions into its neighboring states would threaten U.S. economic interests in those regions.

However, if you look at a map, you can see that the countries that are threatened by this aggression are not significant trading partners with the U.S. Our total trade with all the Baltic States combined is less than 0.2 percent of total U.S. trade.

If trade in any of those countries is to be disrupted by a Russian invasion, the effect on the U.S. economy would be insignificant.

It has also been suggested that the U.S. should expand sanctions on Russia to discourage this kind of behavior. However, this would be a bad idea. While U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia caused some harm to Russia during the first year that they were implemented, the effect on its economy has been very small since then.

We can’t really do significant damage to Russia’s economy using sanctions, because so much of their revenue comes from exporting oil and gas. As demonstrated by its refusal to back out of Crimea, Russia has decided that its more assertive foreign policy is worth the economic damage from the sanctions. Increasing sanctions wouldn’t achieve anything for the U.S. except for causing some companies to lose revenue.

Another argument for not cooperating with Russia is the idea that Putin is some kind of oppressive dictator. Putin has been accused of fixing elections and even killing political opponents. This is a very bad reason for not working with him. Even if these are true, Putin is going to do them whether we work with him or not. In addition, he has an 82 percent approval rating in his country, a number confirmed by Western companies.

In comparison, Obama’s is at 50 percent and Bush averaged 49 percent. The Russian people are clearly not concerned with how he runs the country and neither should we.

Part of why the U.S. and Russia could be powerful allies is that they have many common interests. Also, both have the ability to create stability in the Middle East by cooperating. It’s the fault of the U.S. government that this cooperation has not worked.

If our government really wanted to defeat ISIS, we wouldn’t have supplied Al-Qaeda linked rebel groups with money and weapons. Most of these groups are not “moderate” as the U.S. government has suggested.

Rather, they are no different than ISIS, and they fight alongside ISIS against Assad. Instead, the U.S. should cooperate with Russia who has figured out that Assad is the lesser of two evils and the only way to restore stability is to help the Syrian army regain control. For this type of cooperation to occur, it would probably need to involve a leadership change in Washington and involve someone who was not a part of that decision to arm the wrong people.

If Russia isn’t so evil, why does our government and the media often portray them as such?

It could be just a lingering Cold War attitude of distrust. It could also be that pro-Israel leaders in government and the media don’t like Russia, because they support Iran who funds Hamas. But whatever the motivation is, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a better relationship with Russia going forward.