A Missed Opportunity: Has U.S. Post-Cold War Foreign Policy with Russia Obstructed a Peaceful Resolution to the Ongoing Crisis in Syria?

Date
2021
Authors
Scelfo, Anthony
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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to recognize and understand the divide between the United States and Russia and how it could have been minimized immediately after the Cold War. A foreign policy/national security dilemma currently exists today in Syria, and it has captured the attention of the two world powers for very different reasons; however, the goal for the region and the longing for a resolution to the crisis has Washington and Moscow completely aligned. I offer the failure of the Syrian revolution as one of the byproducts of American foreign policy throughout the 1990s. The 'missed opportunity' highlights specifics of the George H.W. Bush and William Clinton administrations and what caused them to possibly underestimate the value of a cooperative relationship with Russia for the present and the future. I find that while this correlation is very nuanced, the overall theme of democratization during these two presidencies was a contributing factor in the failure to establish a working relationship with Russia. The inability to form a coalition post-Cold War possibly foreshadows the inability to work together in Syria. I acknowledge other factors not presented in this research that give cause for hesitation by the United States not to engage fully with Russia, thus I do not conclude an obvious miscalculation by Washington but merely offer another lens to view post-Cold War foreign policy. Similarly, I do not draw a direct line from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Syria but rather try to show relevancy of the 'missed opportunity' in present day foreign policy.

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Political Science and Geography