From the AICGS Bookshelf: The Limits of Partnership
Dr. Angela E. Stent in The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press, 2014) has written an important contribution to our understanding of the U.S.-Russian relationship and the persistent difficulties in calibrating that relationship. She surveys the four resets between the United States and Russia and addresses six major sets of issues that have challenged the two sides: the nuclear legacy (arms control, missile defense); WMD nonproliferation efforts (Iran, North Korea); the post-Soviet space (Ukraine, Central Asia); European security (NATO enlargement, the Balkans, security architecture); the Arab world and its uprisings; and the Russian domestic situation (Chechnya, North Caucasus), including democracy and human rights. The Limits of Partnership explores each of these sets of issues in depth and from the perspective of an author with experience at a high level, advising both the Clinton and G.W. Bush administrations as one of the country’s most respected Russian experts. Invited for over a decade to small discussion rounds with Vladimir Putin, Stent has observed U.S.-Russian relations up close and brings a unique and incisive perspective to the subject that also reflects her academic credentials as director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University.
A central premise of the book and major contribution to the field and the literature is the contrast in the importance accorded to the United States by Russia, which is considerably greater than importance accorded to Russia by the United States. This disparity in the two countries’ priorities has impacted the relationship in almost all of the major sets of issues. Her review of the attempts to forge closer ties only to fail repeatedly is fascinating for the reader, particularly in her depiction of a Putin regime “resentful of American dominance and determined to restore Russia’s great power status.” Well-researched and written, the book provides a fascinating chronological discussion of the ebb and flow of the relations between the former Cold War superpowers and the distinctive nature of those relations with each U.S. administration. A chapter devoted to economics and energy expands on her earlier work and explores the difficulties even in this less political arena to strike an even keeled balance between the two countries.
Although the focus of the book is the U.S.-Russia partnership, Europe is clearly critical to the challenges faced in that partnership. Stent’s expertise on Europe broadly and Germany specifically make The Limits of Partnership a must-read for those interested in the central role of not only U.S.-Russian relations, but also the role of Europe in the relationship. Professor Stent brings her considerable knowledge of Europe and Germany to the new book—see also her also excellent earlier book Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, the Soviet Collapse and the New Europe. The discussion of the Medvedev-proposed European Security Treaty in 2009 represents just one of several issues supporting Stent’s argument that while cooperation with Russia has been workable on a number of practical levels—counter-narcotics, anti-piracy, search and rescue, and others—fundamental differences have meant that substantial Russian cooperation with the United States as well as Europe has proved elusive and limited.
Stent, Angela E. The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press, 2014). Her previous book Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, the Soviet Collapse and the New Europe may also be purchased on amazon.com.