You will certainly have noticed, my dear reader, that New Start was finally ratified in the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. New Start has provided President Obama with a much needed foreign policy success. More than that it gave Obama something to show for his reset-policy toward Russia. But it appears to me that now New Start is done, the American reset-policy toward Russia is somewhat lacking direction. Russia is after all not an easy partner to deal with and the United States has not yet formulated what it wants to accomplish with Russia other than nuclear arms reduction.
Its not for a lack of challenges, certainly. Russia has experienced an authoritarian backlash in recent years and it remains to be seen whether Medvedev will prevail over prime minister Putin and manage the resurrection of some sort of democracy in the country, or whether Putin will manage to hold on to power and transform Russia into his model of a tsarist authoritarian state. So, I wonder, what is it the Obama administration wants to achieve next? Wouldn't it be lovely for the White House to come up with a decent strategy?
In my humble manner I am willing to offer some points of departure: The Obama administration has not yet formulated a strategy for dealing with Central Asia and even though NATO has agreed upon a new strategic concept, its anything but a blueprint for approaching Russia or any sort of action for that matter. We might want to figure out, for instance, what we would like to do with our beloved Partnership for Peace (I've been arguing for four years now that NATO's PfP needs some sort of consolidation, but anyway). So despite its initial success, its still sometime before we know what to make of the reset. So, no, its not exactly a new years resolution, but its on my personal things-to-watch-in-2011-list.