Foreign policy is messy--and also incredibly interesting. Every day, decisionmakers must formulate and modify the US’s stance towards states like Russia, China, Germany, Iran, Syria, and Israel and tackle cross-cutting issues that touch on human rights, climate change, poverty, human insecurity, nuclear arms proliferation, and economic collapse. In Contemporary American Foreign Policy: Influences, Challenges, and Opportunities, authors Richard Mansbach (Iowa State University) and Kirsten Taylor (Berry College) examine modern foreign policy problems from a variety of angles, not just through the lens of a so-called “national interest.” In each chapter, they focus on today’s most pressing contemporary challenges, exploring their origins and backgrounds. They systematically shed light on the competing forces that influence them, outline the various policy options available to decisionmakers for addressing them, and explore the potential consequences of those policies. Throughout, they also look at foreign policy at all levels: international, society, government, “role”-specific, and individual.

America and Russia Values versus Power

America and Russia: Values versus Power

Reset button

AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini

We now examine the evolution of U.S.-Russian relations. During the Cold War, U.S. policy reflected security concerns about Soviet expansionism and preoccupation with Western values in capitalism’s ideological struggle with communism. After the Cold War, America sought to spread liberal values to Eastern Europe and Russia, but Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism, nationalism, and refusal to accept his country’s post–Cold War status produced a clash of values with Washington. As the remaining superpower, Washington failed to recognize that Moscow loathed the eastward movement of NATO and the EU, regarding them as threats to its interests.

Past: A Bipolar World

Some date the Cold War’s onset from Western intervention against the Bolsheviks in 1917 ...

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