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The United States and Russia into the 21st Century

Authored by Dr. R. Craig Nation, Dr. Michael McFaul. | October 1997

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Conclusion.

Over the long term, Russia's size, natural resources, educated population, and strategic location in Europe and Asia ensure that this country will emerge again as a power in the international system.63 Whether Russia makes this re-entry as a member of the international society of core Western states, or as a rogue state seeking to threaten this international society depends in large measure on the kinds of institutions that shape economic and political activity within Russia in the years to come. Several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is still a chance that Russia will develop a market economy and a democratic polity, and that Russia therefore will join rather than threaten the community of democratic and capitalist states. That this window of opportunity is still open is surprising considering all that Russia has endured, including a sustained economic free fall, a threat of fascism, two civil wars (in October 1993 and in Chechnya), and the expansion of an alliance system aimed ultimately at keeping Russia out of the West. It is in the vital national interests of the United States to ensure that this window of opportunity remains open. The costs of it closing are too high.

Endnotes

63. The parallels to 1917 are striking. At that time, many analysts predicted that Russia's internal strife would relegate Russia to a peripheral role in international affairs for decades. Yet, the Soviet Union emerged as a more powerful state than the Russian empire.