Georgia Postbellum

Mitchell, Lincoln A.

Last summer’s war in Georgia brought into sharp focus several key components of U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War period, and raised major questions about the future of U.S. relations with Russia, Georgia and most of the former Soviet region. The war was also a wake-up call (to those who may somehow have still been asleep): The post-Cold War period—a time marked by a prostrate Russia and virtually unchecked American power in the region—is over. In this new post-post-Cold War period, the challenge for U.S. policymakers is to craft a strategy that recognizes both the potential danger Russia poses to its neighbors and the limits to U.S. influence in the region— limits that have only grown tighter thanks to the ongoing global economic crisis. The war has already forced the United States to take a more critical look at its relationships with both Georgia and Russia. That task fell to a Bush Administration as it was coming to an end. But the war also forces us to situate those challenges in the context of a triangular relationship between Russia, the United States and Europe, because the United States cannot formulate an effective policy toward Russia without the sup - port of the Europeans. This task falls to the Obama Administration as it is just beginning.

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Harriman Institute
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September 14, 2011