Poll April 2007

Putin's Reign

The Atlantic recently asked a group of foreign-policy authorities about Russian President Vladimir Putin's leadership and relations with the West
On balance, has Russia under Putin helped or hurt American economic and security interests?

69% Hurt American interests

“Putin has not cooperated in the war on terror but used the war on terror as a justification for his excesses in Chechnya. On Iran, Putin has consistently sabotaged any chance to send a blunt and cohesive signal that nuclear proliferation has a cost.”

“[Putin’s presidency has consisted of] a return to an instinctive Anti-American [stance]; [He has been] particularly bad on dealing with Iran.”

“It has hurt American interest, but [Putin has been] aided by our go-it-alone attitude in foreign affairs.”

“Putin has managed to turn Russia from a budding friend of the United States into a budding enemy, and from a nascent liberal democracy to a nascent authoritarian dictatorship.”

“Early on, the Bush administration had high hopes that Russia would choose to integrate more closely with Western economic and security institutions and liberalize its economy and society in the process. Those hopes have not been realized.”

“When we look at terrorism, Kosovo and the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Middle East and other key strategic priorities, Russia under Putin is increasingly ambivalent as to whether it wants the West to succeed or fail.”

“Economically, Russia still has little impact on us or on the world in general. And there has been no basic Russian threat to our security, as the term is generally defined. But if “security” is defined in the broadest sense—including matters like economic/energy “security” relations with other countries, plus diplomatic approaches to countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Iran—he has hurt our security interests.”

“It has hurt American interests, especially given its support of Iran.”

“[Putin’s leadership has] hurt indirectly, indeed inadvertently. His grab-it-all oil policy just means that Russian oil will not be produced optimally.”

“Russians, in general, feel that Putin has put Russia back on the map, helped the economy and that even if there is not yet full fledged democracy there are more individual rights than a decade ago. From an American security perspective, however, Russia has at the very least complicated our military, political and economic interests and certainly slowed down the march to full democratic rights for its people. However, returning Russia to the enemies list is not productive in the world in which we live.”

31% Helped American interests

“Putin’s bark has been much worse than his bite. Despite the confrontational rhetoric, Russia has cooperated with the United States on a host of foreign policy issues, including combating terror and facilitating the war in Afghanistan. The most significant divergence with the United States is on Iran, where Moscow has hampered Washington’s efforts to convince Tehran to shut down its nuclear program.”

“The primary security challenge is securing their vast arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. He has insured stewardship control.”

“On balance, his policies have probably helped US economic and security interests.” “Keeping Russia from falling apart, and its nuclear weapons generally secure, have been two big and unexpected accomplishments.”

“[Putin has] helped more than hurt from an economic and security standpoint. It is a different story from a civil rights standpoint.”

“To the extent that he frightens Europe and thus retains for the United States a certain security role in European thinking, I suppose it helps. And in an ironic way, Russia’s refusal to cooperate with the U.S., e.g. in Iran, may be good for the U.S. in that it inhibits Washington from making further mistakes. Otherwise it has probably hurt.”

“Putin’s focus has been inward to reshaping the new Russia into an entity more attune to his view of historical Russian values and traditions and limiting the influx of Western cultural and political values. Putin’s Russia has not challenged directly American strategic or economic interests and indeed has been happy to have a calm period in East-West relations in order to better carry out his internal reordering of Russia.”

Other answers

“Actually, neither. Putin has hurt U.S. interests with his support for Iran. He has helped them directly on counter-terrorism. He has also helped the United States indirectly and unintentionally with heavy handed efforts to intimidate his neighbors. Nobody likes a bully.”

“Russia has both helped and hurt our security.”

“These are not very good questions. The U.S.-Russian relationship is much more complex than these questions suggest. The United States has not managed the Russian relationship well at all.”

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