Thursday, 24 January 2019 00:00

U.S. Strategy Towards Afghanistan and (The Rest of) Central Asia Featured

U.S. Strategy Towards Afghanistan and (The Rest of) Central Asia 

By S. Frederick Starr, S. Enders Wimbush

Americanl Interest, January 24, 2019


From Europe to Asia, everything is in motion. Russia’s growing weakness as a state tempts it more than ever to employ its refurbished military in risky adventures. China faces an unfamiliar fragility at home and pushback to its policies abroad. India is rising but must still make up for decades of clumsy domestic policies. Pakistan has a growing middle class but is failing nonetheless. In Afghanistan, a talented new generation is rising but solutions to decades of turmoil require constant replenishing. The people of Iran are once again flirting with revolution. Turkey is lurching towards an Islamic and neo-Ottoman identity, and has in the process upended most conventional thinking about its strategic importance. The European Union’s process-driven raison d’être appeals to fewer and fewer citizens of the nations it hoped to homogenize. And the Middle East continues to breed the pathologies that have characterized it for a century.

Only the most wooden strategist would still try to characterize this vast region in terms of traditional balances of power or spheres of influence. On the contrary, its dominant feature is a still amorphous but general realignment, the likely outcome of which will be new and unprecedented alliances, relationships, and transactional trade-offs. Within a few years the Eurasia that will emerge from this churning will be unrecognizable. Shaping the geopolitics of this region into landscapes that affirm long-term American strengths will require thinking and actions that transcend our conventional strategic paradigms.

This rethinking might usefully begin by assessing U.S. objectives in the geographic heart of the Eurasian continent, Central Asia, through a different set of strategic optics. As part of a larger shaping strategy, the U.S. could benefit from an approach which envisions strategy outward from Central Asia rather than through the traditional and exclusive analytical lenses of Russian or Chinese interests. Here, on the vast territory between real or imagined modern empires, lies a dynamic region with historical and cultural connections in all directions and with deep ties with all the major powers and problematic regimes on its periphery.  It is also the only region on earth whose neighbors and near-neighbors include four and possibly five nuclear powers, as well as NATO member Turkey.

Central Asian leaders today consider Afghanistan an inseparable part of their region. Inevitably, Afghanistan figures prominently in the political, economic, and security planning of all the states that surround it. Central Asians find it hard to imagine their region as a zone of stable states without Afghanistan as an integral part of it. What they already share is of vital importance, namely common values, cultures, and histories. Moreover, their economies are fast becoming interwoven.

Any American policy that seeks to lessen or withdraw U.S. support from Afghanistan is bound to impact negatively all the other states of Central Asia. The timing for such a move could not be worse, for it would occur precisely at the moment when Central Asia is successfully evolving into a more stable, prosperous, open, and integrated world region. A U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would also signal to Afghanistan’s neighbors in Central Asia that America is timid and uncertain about its own interests, even at a time when Central Asians themselves increasingly support some kind of U.S. presence as a means of balancing Russia and China.

By leaving Afghanistan to its fate, the United States would also close off Central Asia’s access to the booming Indian sub-continent. India, a key American ally, recently signed 17 pacts with Uzbekistan, covering nearly every sector, including defense. If these regions are cut off from each other by an American withdrawal it will leave Central Asian economies ever more dependent on just Russia and China. Abandoning Afghanistan will therefore send the wrong signal at the wrong time.

Russia meanwhile seeks to draw Central Asians into the neo-colonial economic and security organizations it controls. Dreaming of an imagined past, both Iran and Turkey harbor ambitions in Central Asia, as do a number of Middle Eastern states. Further afield, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia, all long-term investors in the region, are seeking to expand their roles in Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia, but are unlikely to do so in the face of a fast U.S. withdrawal.

China’s bid for economic supremacy in Central Asia is notably ambitious. It has engaged all of Central Asian countries in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) linking Asia to Europe via the Caucasus, and provided support for infrastructure projects to achieve this end. In many parts of the world BRI is encountering serious pushback, as grantees begin reading the fine print of agreements they have signed or are being asked to sign. Many recipients of Chinese aid seek a way out of the debt trap aid has engendered, among them Pakistan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Laos, the Maldives, and Montenegro. Sri Lanka’s current political crisis is caused in no small part by its government having taken BRI money to build its port at Hambantota, then ceding the port to Chinese ownership when Sri Lanka could not repay China’s loans.

America has serious concerns over BRI’s aspirations in Southeast Asia but need not object to BRI in Central Asia, provided that Chinese loans do not become a strategic tool by which Beijing exerts control over recipients. The Pentagon has declared this aspect of BRI as a direct threat to American security interests. Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are already struggling to repay BRI loans. Only if the United States is present in the region as a major investor and supporter of self-rule will Central Asians be able to moderate and balance China’s powerful influence.

The United States is late to the table, though it appears to be wakening to the challenge. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently traveled to the Caucasus, which form a bridge between Europe and Central Asia.  There he noted that the U.S.-Georgia relationship “is one of our highest priorities.” He was well aware of Georgia’s robust participation in U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But what seized his attention in 2018 was Georgia’s new deep water port of Anaklia on the Black Sea, a key link in the emerging corridor between Europe and China, and yet with closer links (for now, at least) with Europe and America than with China.

In May of last year President Donald Trump hosted a very visible and positive meeting with Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, highlighting a radical shift in America’s official attitude toward that pivotal Central Asian country. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross echoed this sense of strategic opportunity in his remarks in October at a business forum held in Tashkent. The United States, he told the Uzbeks, “is committed to being a strategic partner in your growth and development, through trade, investment, and your outreach to other nations in Central Asia.”

It would be surprising if these sentiments were not reflected in the priorities of the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which President Trump signed into law on October 5th. The DFC will direct more American development assistance to many of those countries that are now balking at China’s growing involvement in their economies and politics. Congressional sponsors of the DFC legislation did not mask their intention to counter BRI, albeit with smaller and more precisely focused investments. Central Asia is a particularly attractive target.

At the same time, the U.S. recognizes that China’s efforts to open east-west corridors to Europe help counterbalance pressures the Central Asians feel from Moscow. Because of this, the U.S. seeks not to exclude China from the region, which would be impossible under any circumstances, but to strengthen Central Asians’ own ability to maneuver between their two goliath neighbors, Russia and China, and thus preserve their sovereignty and that of their region. Mongolia, which is on the fringes of Central Asia and is wedged between China and Russia, has demonstrated a sophisticated capacity for such strategic balancing. Not surprisingly, Mongolia’s involvement in greater Central Asia is growing, as its lessons penetrate subtly throughout the region.

Central Asia itself is on the move. The wave of reform sweeping Uzbekistan far surpasses anything we’ve seen in other societies with Muslim majorities, and is bound in time to influence its neighbors and other Muslim countries further afield. Regional trade has surged, and the heads of state are conferring regularly on heretofore taboo topics like water and hydroelectric power. As cooperation and coordination increase, Central Asia will be better able resist the unsettling “divide and conquer” strategies of its big neighbors, and become itself a stabilizing force across the region.

Ancient Central Asia’s emergence as a new world region has profound geopolitical significance. If it successfully resists the threat of Islamic extremism, it will have removed the chief cause that both Russia and China cite in defense of their meddling in Central Asian affairs. Religious moderation in Central Asia, which claims a heritage dating back to the tenth century, offers a strong foundation for this resistance. Meanwhile, at a recent conference in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, the Central Asian countries not only welcomed Afghanistan as a new member of their movement but pledged to promote both domestic and foreign investment in Afghanistan, and also to expand educational opportunities there. All these measures directly support U.S. interests. Yet the Central Asians have framed them so deftly that they equally support the ends that both China and Russia profess to support.

The United States urgently needs to find its long-term role in this increasingly important region. Stability and progress in Central Asia will best come from within. Solutions imposed from without, including those from the West, will not work. The key, then, is for the U.S. to help the region strengthen its economies and societies, and to be attentive to its security needs. If the U.S. fails to enhance Central Asia’s strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, and help shape its strategic outlook, prospects of happy endings to turmoil in Iran, Russia, or even in Turkey or China, will diminish. Whatever the regional powers may be saying publicly, an autonomous and prosperous Central Asia will serve the real interests of all its neighbors and, equally, of the U.S. It will reduce extremism, undermine the pillars now supporting drug trafficking, cut back corruption, and provide a strategic shock absorber for turmoil that might result from instability in states near Central Asia. The alternative could be a sharp escalation of the regional and great-power conflicts that have generated chaos and suffering over the past generation.

The way to achieve this is for Washington fully to embrace the concept of Central Asia as a single region comprised of six sovereign but collaborating states. These countries are fast creating new westward links across the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus, eastward links to China, and links via Afghanistan to the economies of South and Southeast Asia. Expect the Central Asians within the coming year to set up a regional entity similar to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a move that warrants robust American support. Having already welcomed Afghanistan as part of their region, Central Asians are starting to invest in both Afghanistan’s economy and in its human capital, by giving thousands of Afghan children modern educations. Assisting Afghanistan to become an active member of a larger, more integrated Central Asia will multiply opportunities to advance American interests in many directions.

These positive developments have all arisen from within the region itself. They are not owned or dominated by any outside power and are not against anyone. A coherent and integrated U.S. strategy for Central Asia would encourage and help shape these positive trends, while supporting America’s interests on many fronts.

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Read 8742 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2019 19:15





  • ASIA Spotlight with Prof. S. Frederick Starr on Unveiling Central Asia's Hidden Legacy
    Thursday, 28 December 2023 00:00

    On December 19th, 2023, at 7:30 PM IST, ASIA Spotlight Session has invited the renowned Prof. S Fredrick Starr, who elaborated on his acclaimed book, "The Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane." Moderated by Prof. Amogh Rai, Research Director at ASIA, the discussion unveiled the fascinating, yet lesser-known narrative of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment.

    The book sheds light on the remarkable minds from the Persianate and Turkic peoples, spanning from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, China. "Lost Enlightenment" narrates how, between 800 and 1200, Central Asia pioneered global trade, economic development, urban sophistication, artistic refinement, and, most importantly, knowledge advancement across various fields. Explore the captivating journey that built a bridge to the modern world.

    To know watch the full conversation: #centralasia #goldenage #arabconquest #tamerlane #medievalenlightment #turkish #economicdevelopment #globaltrade

    Click here to watch on YouTube or scroll down to watch the full panel discussion.

  • Some Lessons for Putin from Ancient Rome
    Thursday, 04 January 2024 17:01
    By S. Frederick Starr 
    American Purpose
    January 4, 2024
    Vladimir Putin, having sidelined or destroyed all his domestic opponents, real or imagined, now surrounds himself with Romano-Byzantine pomp and grandeur. The theatrical civic festivals, processions of venerable prelates, cult of statues, embarrassing shows of piety, endless laying of wreaths, and choreographed entrances down halls lined with soldiers standing at attention—all trace directly back to czarism, to Byzantine Constantinople, and ultimately to imperial Rome. Indeed, Putin considers himself as Russia’s new “czar,” the Russified form of the Latin “Caesar.”
    But besides all the parallel heroics, Roman history offers profound lessons for today’s world. All of America’s Founders saw the Roman Republic as the best model for their own constitution. Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler, by contrast, found in imperial Rome a stunning model for their own grandeur. True, some of Rome’s ancient chroniclers, including the celebrated Livy, so admired specific politicians that they saw only their good sides and ignored the problems and failures. Yet there were others, notably the pessimistic Sallust, who not only wrote bluntly of history’s painful issues but delved deep into their causes and consequences.
    Is Putin likely to delve into the history of Rome for insights on his own situation? Unfortunately for Russia, Putin is not a reader, preferring instead to engage in exhibitionist athletic activities, preside at solemn ceremonies, or offer avuncular obiter dicta. However, if he would study the Roman past, he might come to realize that that model presents more than a few chilling prospects that he will ignore at his peril.
    To take but one example, a glance at Roman history would remind Putin that self-declared victories may not be as victorious as he and Kremlin publicists want to think. Back in the 3rd century B.C., when Rome was still a small state in central Italy, it was attacked by a certain King Pyrrhus, a rival ruler from Epirus, a region along today’s border between Greece and Albania. In his first battles Pyrrhus routed the Roman legions, and celebrated accordingly. But matters did not end there.
    Like Pyrrhus, Putin’s army scored some early victories in its war on Ukraine. As recently as December 1, Putin’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu was still claiming, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that Russian forces “were advancing on all fronts.” Pyrrhus made similar false claims, only to discover that his own soldiers were no match for the determined Romans. As the Romans drove Pyrrhus’ army from the field, he groused, “If we win one more such victory against the Romans we will be utterly ruined,” which is exactly what happened. Pyrrhus’ statement gave Romans the term “Pyrrhic victory,” which we still use today. Putin should apply it to his “victories” at Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
    Another crisis in Rome’s early formation as a nation occurred when a peasant uprising threatened Rome itself and, according to the historian Livy, caused panic in the Roman capital. In desperation, the elders turned to Lucius Cincinnatus, who was neither a military man nor a professional politician, but who had earned respect as an effective leader. It took Cincinnatus only fifteen days to turn the tide, after which he returned to his farm. George Washington rightly admired Cincinnatus and consciously emulated him, returning after the Battle of Yorktown to Mount Vernon. By contrast, Putin’s “special military operation,” planned as a three-day romp, is now approaching the end of its second year. Putin, no Cincinnatus, doomed himself to being a lifer.
    Roman history is a millennium-long showcase of motivation or its absence. In this context, Putin might gain further insights by examining Rome’s centuries-long battle against the diverse tribes pressing the empire from the north. For centuries Rome’s legionnaires were well trained, disciplined, and committed. The list of their early victories is long. Both Julius Caesar and the philosopher-emperor-general Marcus Aurelius succeeded because they motivated and inspired their troops. But over time the Roman army was increasingly comprised of hirelings, déclassé men who fought not to save the empire but for money or a small piece of the bounty. Inflation and rising costs outpaced pay increases. Punishment was severe, in some cases including even crucifixion. In the end, Rome’s army eroded from within.
    This is what is happening to the Russian army today. Putin attacked Ukraine in February 2022 with what was then an army of several hundred thousand trained professional soldiers. But after the Ukrainians killed more than 320,000 Russian troops, their replacements were unwilling and surly conscripts and even criminals dragooned from Russia’s jails. Putin quite understandably fears such soldiers. Putin’s army, like that of the late Roman Empire, is collapsing from within.
    By contrast, Ukraine’s army at the time of the invasion was small and comprised mainly Soviet-trained holdovers. Both officers and troops of the line had to be quickly recruited from civilian professions and trained. Yet they quickly proved themselves to be disciplined and resourceful patriots, not tired time-servers. True, Ukraine is now conscripting troops, but these newcomers share their predecessors’ commitment to the nation and to their future lives in a free country.
    Sheer spite and a passion for avenging past failures figured prominently in Putin’s decisions to invade both Georgia and Ukraine. Roman history suggests that this isn’t smart. Back in 220 B.C., Rome defeated its great enemy, the North African state of Carthage. Anticipating Putin, the Carthaginian general Hannibal sought revenge. Acting out of spite, he assembled 700,000 foot soldiers, 78,000 mounted calvary, and a force of war elephants, and crossed the Alps. Though he was a brilliant general, Hannibal’s war of spite turned into a disaster.
    Why did Hannibal lose? Partly because of his sheer hubris and the spite that fed it, and also because the Romans avoided frontal battles and simply ground him down. They were prudently led by a general named Fabius Maximus, whom later Romans fondly remembered as “the Delayer.” Today it is the Ukrainians who are the Delayers. By grinding down Putin’s army and destroying its logistics they have positioned themselves for victory.
    The Roman Republic fell not because of any mass uprising but because of the machinations of Julius Caesar. A victorious general, Caesar looked the hero as he was installed as imperator. As was customary at such ceremonies, an official retainer placed behind the inductee solemnly repeated over and over the admonition to “Look behind you!” Caesar failed to do so and underestimated the opposition of a handful of officials and generals who feared the rise of a dictator perpetuus. Even if Putin chooses not to read Cicero, Plutarch, or Cassius Dio, he could productively spend an evening watching a Moscow production of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
    Turning to a very different issue, Putin seems blithely to assume that whenever Russia defeats a neighboring country it can easily win the hearts and minds of the conquered, whether by persuasion or force. This is what many Roman generals and governors thought as well, but they were wrong—fatally so. Speaking of the impact of corrupt officials sent by Rome to the provinces, the great orator-politician Cicero declared to the Roman Senate, “You cannot imagine how deeply they hate us.” Does Putin understand this?
    Finally, it is no secret that Russia today, like ancient Rome, is increasingly a land of immigrants; its economy depends on impoverished newcomers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and elsewhere in Central Asia who fled to Russia in search of work. Yet Moscow treats them as third-class citizens and dragoons them as cannon fodder or “meat” to die by the thousands on the Ukrainian front. Rome faced a similar problem and wrestled with it unsuccessfully over several centuries. Over time the despised immigrants who poured across the Alps from Gaul demanded a voice in Roman affairs, and eventually took control of the western Roman Empire.
    Sad to say, neither Putin himself nor any others of Russia’s core group of leaders show the slightest interest in learning from relevant examples from Roman history or, for that matter, from any other useable past. Together they provide living proof of American philosopher George Santayana’s adage that, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” In Putin’s case, though, he seems never to have known it. 

    ABOUT THE AUTHORSS. Frederick Starr, is a distinguished fellow specializing in Central Asia and the Caucasus at the American Foreign Policy Council and founding chairman of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute.

    Additional Info
    • Author S. Frederick Starr
    • Publication Type Analysis
    • Published in/by American Purpose
    • Publishing date January 4, 2024
  • CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr comments on "Preparing Now for a Post-Putin Russia"
    Friday, 03 November 2023 18:30

    Whether Russian President Vladimir Putin dies in office, is ousted in a palace coup, or relinquishes power for some unforeseen reason, the United States and its allies would face a radically different Russia with the Kremlin under new management. The geopolitical stakes mean that policymakers would be negligent not to plan for the consequences of a post-Putin Russia. On November 2, 2023, CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr joined a panel organized by the Hudson Institute’s Center on Europe and Eurasia for a discussion on how US and allied policymakers can prepare for a Russia after Putin.

    Click here to watch on YouTube or scroll down to watch the full panel discussion.

  • Central Asia Diplomats Call for Closer Ties With US
    Monday, 26 June 2023 00:00

    REPRINTED with permission from Voice of America News
    By Navbahor Imamova

    WASHINGTON -- U.S.-based diplomats from Central Asia, a region long dominated by Russia and more recently China, say they are eager for more engagement with the United States.

    Many American foreign policy experts agree that a more robust relationship would be mutually beneficial, though U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations express deep concerns about human rights and authoritarian rule in the five countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

    Michael Delaney, a former U.S. trade official, argued in favor of greater engagement this week at a webinar organized by the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce.

    He noted that three of the five republics are World Trade Organization members and the other two are in the accession process — a goal actively encouraged by the U.S. government.

    "I've always believed that this is a geographically disadvantaged area. There are relatively small national economies," he said. But, he said, collectively the region represents a potentially more connected market, about 80 million people.

    Key issues

    In this virtual gathering, all five Central Asian ambassadors to Washington expressed eagerness to work on issues the U.S. has long pushed for, such as water and energy sustainability, security cooperation, environmental protection and climate, and connectivity.

    Kazakhstan's Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev said that despite all factors, the United States does not want to leave the field to China, its global competitor, which actively invests in the region.

    "Recent visit by 20 companies to Kazakhstan as a part of certified U.S. trade mission, including technology giants like Apple, Microsoft, Google, but also other partners like Boeing, have shown a growing interest," Ashikbayev said.

    The Kazakh diplomat described a "synergy" of economies and diplomatic efforts. All Central Asian states are committed to dialogue, trade and multilateralism, he said. "As we are witnessing the return of the divisive bloc mentalities almost unseen for 30 years, it's in our best interest to prevent Central Asia from turning into another battleground of global powers."

    During his first tour of Central Asia earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, meeting separately with the foreign ministers of all five countries.

    That was deeply appreciated, said Meret Orazov, Turkmenistan's longtime ambassador, who also praised the regular bilateral consultations the U.S. holds with these countries.

    Uzbek Ambassador Furqat Sidiqov sees the U.S. as an important partner, with "long-standing friendship and cooperation which have only grown stronger over the years."

    "The U.S. has played a significant role in promoting dialogue and cooperation among the Central Asian nations through initiatives such as the C5+1," he said, referring to a diplomatic platform comprising Washington and the region's five governments.

    "This is where we address common concerns and enhance integration," said Sidiqov. "We encourage the U.S. to bolster this mechanism."

    Tashkent regards Afghanistan as key to Central Asia's development, potentially linking the landlocked region to the markets and seaports of South Asia. Sidiqov said his country counts on American assistance.

    'Possibility of positive change'

    Fred Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, ardently advocates for the U.S. to adopt closer political, economic and people-to-people ties with the region.

    In a recent paper, he wrote that among dozens of officials, diplomats, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists and civil society leaders interviewed in Central Asia, "even those most critical of American positions saw the possibility of positive change and … all acknowledged that the need for change is on both sides, theirs as well as ours."

    This is the only region that doesn't have its own organization, said Starr, arguing that the U.S. could support this effort. "We have not done so, probably because we think that this is somehow going to interfere with their relations with their other big neighbors, the north and east, but it's not going to. It's not against anyone."

    "Easy to do, low cost, very big outcome," he added, also underscoring that "there is a feeling the U.S. should be much more attentive to security."

    "Japan, the European Union, Russia, China, their top leaders have visited. … No U.S. president has ever set foot in Central Asia," he said. He added that regional officials are left to wonder, "Are we so insignificant that they can't take the time to visit?"

    Starr urges U.S. President Joe Biden to convene the C5+1 in New York during the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly in September. "This would not be a big drain on the president's time, but it would be symbolically extremely important," he said. "All of them want this to happen."

    Read at VOA News

  • Read CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr's recent interview on the resurgence of Imperial Russia with The American Purpose
    Tuesday, 23 May 2023 00:00

    Why Russians Support the War: Jeffrey Gedmin interviews S. Frederick Starr on the resurgence of Imperial Russia.

    The American Purpose, May 23, 2023

    Jeffrey Gedmin: Do we have a Putin problem or a Russia problem today?

    S. Frederick Starr: We have a Putin problem because we have a Russia problem. Bluntly, the mass of Russians are passive and easily manipulated—down to the moment they aren’t. Two decades ago they made a deal with Vladimir Putin, as they have done with many of his predecessors: You give us a basic income, prospects for a better future, and a country we can take pride in, and we will give you a free hand. This is the same formula for autocracy that prevailed in Soviet times, and, before that, under the czars. The difference is that this time Russia’s leader—Putin—and his entourage have adopted a bizarre and dangerous ideology, “Eurasianism,” that empowers them to expand Russian power at will over the entire former territory of the USSR and even beyond. It is a grand and awful vision that puffs up ruler and ruled alike.

    What do most Russians think of this deal? It leaves them bereft of the normal rights of citizenship but free from its day-to-day responsibilities. So instead of debating, voting, and demonstrating, Russians store up their frustrations and then release them in elemental, often destructive, and usually futile acts of rebellion. This “Russia problem” leaves the prospect of change in Russia today in the hands of alienated members of Putin’s immediate entourage, many of whom share his vision of Russia’s destiny and are anyway subject to Putin’s ample levers for control. Thus, our “Putin problem” arises from our “Russia problem.”

    Click to continue reading...