Tom Graham has been a U.S. Department of State Soviet/Russia expert for decades. We met him in the 1990s and continued to consult him during the 2000s. He met with our groups of 100 Russians who made Congressional calls in Washington on two occasions. His statements and recommendations always brought seasoned and wise ideas to the fore. Upon retirement, he joined Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Tom Graham's piece below asks the hard questions and makes the case for policy that is logic-based not emotionally driven––and he warns of the consequences if we choose the latter.
We need to listen carefully to the few voices like Tom's. Further we need to consider bringing this type of dialogue into conversations with our friends and colleagues.
The National Interest
July 25, 2014
America Needs a Real Russia Policy
"We need to ask hard questions about what we want to achieve, how we want to achieve it and the consequences of our actions."
By Thomas E. Graham
Thomas Graham is a managing director at Kissinger Associates, Inc., where he focuses on Russian and Eurasian affairs. He was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council staff from 2004 to 2007 and Director for Russian Affairs on that staff from 2002 to 2004.
The outrage at Russia is more than sufficient. What Washington needs is a policy. Particularly in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy, the drive to punish Russia, to raise the costs of its aggression against Ukraine by levying harsher sanctions and seeking to isolate it internationally, is understandable; it might also meet a profound psychological need to demonstrate that we are not indifferent to the loss of nearly 300 innocent lives. But punishing Russia falls short of a credible policy.
We need to ask hard questions about what we want to achieve, how we want to achieve it and the consequences of our actions. Today's turbulent world offers no easy answers or moral clarity. To protect and advance our interests, we will be compelled to make trade-offs that are less than fully morally satisfying. That is an inevitable part of statecraft.
Amidst the passions and calls for action against Russia, what do we need to consider?