Know Your Rival: Russia, Ukraine, and the Art of Politics

March 18, 2014

In the course of good old fashioned American politicking, our elected officials are routinely confronted with peers with whom they disagree vehemently. A pro-life member of Congress is seated across the table from a pro-choice member. A senator views the estate tax as an unjust “death tax,” while his colleague think it is a reasonable means of pursuing equal opportunity. Or, more topically, two members of Congress are squaring off against each other — one of whom thinks the Affordable Care Act is an important measure for millions of uninsured Americans who cannot afford medical care, and the other thinks it is an unforgivable usurpation of power by the federal government.

Regardless of who is right, these people still have to do business with each other. They have to negotiate, compromise, and deal with each other. They might pull dirty tricks, seek to outmaneuver their opponents, compete, condemn, make a ruckus, and go through some pain first, but at the end of the day — in our political system — they will usually negotiate, compromise, and make deals with those they disagree with and really dislike. When our politicians cannot make a deal and cannot set aside their ideological positions, the American people are faced with unpleasant scenarios, such as the recent government shutdown, which came with a $24 billion price tag and slowed economic growth. And then they still have to make a deal. Whichever party thinks they win standoffs like this, the American people lose. And Washington might be starting to re-learn these lessons when it comes to domestic politics.

But many Americans have trouble applying these pragmatic lessons to the realm of international affairs…

Read the rest at The Huffington Post!


Ryan Evans is the Assistant Editor of the Center for the National Interest and the Editor-in-Chief of War on the Rocks. 


Image: DoD photo by Cherie A. Thurlby