‘Dangerous for US experts to be too sympathetic to Russia’ – ex-US Defense Department analyst

Is it possible to mend the troubled relations between Moscow and Washington? Robert English, a former policy analyst at the US Defense Department and international relations scholar, weighed in on what has gone wrong between the two countries and whether it can change for the better.

It’s “reciprocal” and “almost psychological” for the US and Russia to see each other as perfect enemies. The two powers easily “fell back into the old tropes and patterns” of the Cold War, English said. However, “even in the worst days of the Cold War, there were certain lines that we didn’t cross.” 

“The atmosphere right now is so Russophobic that people are trimming their sails. I wouldn’t say it’s some McCarthyist atmosphere, but it’s a very toxic one,” English went on. “It’s dangerous to be too sympathetic to Russia. Even when you have a good argument and can back it with facts,” English added.

Despite some officials describing Russia as the US’ biggest geopolitical threat, “Defense Department people, Navy people… are all looking at China.” English said it is “convenient” to make a bogeyman out of Moscow to “get the money for new weapons and ships.” 

Although President Donald Trump had “a good core idea” about building a relationship with Russia, he is “not the best messenger of a coherent policy,” English said.