The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century

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The Limits of Partnership offers a riveting narrative on U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet collapse and on the challenges ahead. It reflects the unique perspective of an insider who is also recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship. American presidents have repeatedly attempted to forge a strong and productive partnership only to be held hostage to the deep mistrust born of the Cold War. For the United States, Russia remains a priority because of its nuclear weapons arsenal, its strategic location bordering Europe and Asia, and its ability to support—or thwart—American interests. Why has it been so difficult to move the relationship forward? What are the prospects for doing so in the future? Is the effort doomed to fail again and again?

Angela Stent served as an adviser on Russia under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and maintains close ties with key policymakers in both countries. Here, she argues that the same contentious issues—terrorism, missile defense, Iran, nuclear proliferation, Afghanistan, the former Soviet space, the greater Middle East—have been in every president's inbox, Democrat and Republican alike, since the collapse of the USSR. Stent vividly describes how Clinton and Bush sought inroads with Russia and staked much on their personal ties to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin—only to leave office with relations at a low point—and how Barack Obama managed to restore ties only to see them undermined by a Putin regime resentful of American dominance and determined to restore Russia's great power status.

The Limits of Partnership calls for a fundamental reassessment of the principles and practices that drive U.S.-Russian relations, and offers a path forward to meet the urgent challenges facing both countries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2014 Douglas Dillon Award, American Academy of Diplomacy
One of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Books of 2014, chosen by Dan Fuss

"In her largely chronological account of U.S.-Russian relations since 1990, Ms. Stent gives a comprehensive overview of the obstacles that have prevented a closer relationship."—Yascha Mount, Wall Street Journal

"[L]ucid. . . . [R]eadable and sometimes surprising . . ."Kirkus Reviews

"[M]agisterial . . ."The Economist

"[Stent's] compelling book provides perhaps the most comprehensive and sober—as well as sobering—assessment of relations across the past two decades."—Neil Buckley, Financial Times

"Stent . . . expertly condenses the past two decades of this tumultuous relationship with an insider's command of detail."—Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Times Higher Education

"In The Limits of Partnership, Stent . . . clearly and carefully lays out the contentious issues that have divided the United States and Russia since the end of the Cold War."—Glenn C. Altschuler, Huffington Post

"Until now, there have been no broad-based studies of the vexed contemporary U.S.-Russian relationship in English—or, for that matter, in Russian. This volume fills that void admirably."Foreign Affairs

"Truly outstanding . . ."—Mark Adomanis,

"[An] insightful and balanced assessment of two decades of post-Soviet interaction between Washington and Moscow. . . . Stent draws many useful lessons from the ups-and-downs in the U.S.-Russian relationship."—Paul J. Saunders, National Interest

"In her magisterial new book The Limits of Partnership, Angela Stent performs a great service by showing that the end of the Obama Reset is only one part of a much broader pattern that goes back to the end of the Soviet Union."—Donald N. Jensen, Institute of Modern Russia

"Where Stent's narrative truly excels . . . is in presenting the Russian side of the story. It does not fall victim to the understandable temptation to mock Yeltsin or Putin, but rather treats Russia as a U.S. partner with legitimate grievances. This is a particularly worthwhile contribution."—Heather Williams, War Studies Publications

"The Limits of Partnership is a comprehensive and objective history and analysis. While dealing with the detailed complexity of the many issues involved, it does so in a clear, straightforward style. Although written before the present Ukrainian crisis, it is an indispensable source for understanding why this crisis has worsened our relationship with Russia."—Walter G. Moss, History News Network

"A descriptive and integrative type of work, The Limits of Partnership contributes to a renewed understanding of the legacy of the Cold war, of the cultural mechanisms underlying its practices, the ebb and flow, the meanderings and limitations of ideology, viewed in transnational perspective. Stent's is without doubt a particularly apt and timely undertaking, one whose pertinence is fully probed by the crisis in Ukraine that sparked a proliferation of discourse on the 'new Cold War.' This is certainly a cogent political analysis of the postcommunist architecture in Europe as it profiles itself at this juncture in the twenty-first century."—Adriana Neagu, American, British and Canadian Studies

"This is a remarkably even-handed account, in the best kind of way; it explains how each side has understood the serial breakdowns, and explains how the misperceptions on either side have allowed them to happen."—Robert Farley, Lawyers, Guns, & Money blog

"Stent, former staffer at the National Intelligence Council and Department of State, has written a masterful analysis of US-Russian relations since the breakup of the Soviet Union. . . . Written in a lively, engaging manner that is free of academic jargon, the book is accessible to readers from a variety of disciplines and academic levels. . . . This book provides a complete and definitive rendering of the key events that have taken place in that relationship and deserves to be widely read."—Choice

"[A] highly readable account of US foreign policy during the twenty-five years since the Berlin Wall came down, with respect not just to Russia, but the Eurasian continent generally."—David Warsh, Economic Principals

Kirkus Reviews
Whatever happened to the end of the Cold War? According to Stent (Government and Foreign Service/Georgetown Univ.; Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, the Soviet Collapse, and the New Europe, 1998, etc.), since the collapse of the Soviet Union barely 20 years ago, there have been four "resets" in relations. George H.W. Bush was wary but optimistic, Bill Clinton welcoming, George W. Bush ambivalent and Barack Obama--well, just a touch frosty, at least in some measure due to Vladimir Putin's return to power. Why, Stent wonders, "has it been so difficult to develop a productive and more predictable post–Cold War U.S.–Russian partnership"? Her lucid book is an extended answer to that pointed question. Part of the problem is Russia's unwillingness to become a second-tier power, and, as Stent notes, the nation's GDP has in fact grown sevenfold since 2000, largely due to oil and gas exports. Couple that with the fact that Russia has few material needs for which it requires America's participation to meet, and it becomes more difficult to exert any sort of economic control. Meanwhile, many Russians have regarded the period following the Soviet collapse not as a harbinger of peace and prosperity but as a shameful tumble into irrelevancy and disorder, something to be avoided in the future. George W. Bush's fateful assertion that he could look inside Putin's soul aside, what is clear from Stent's book is that it is in the self-interest of the U.S. to develop friendlier ties with Russia, even as tensions continue to pull the nations apart--most recently, the kerfuffle over Edward Snowden, who has found safe harbor of a kind in Moscow thanks to "the lack of an extradition treaty," something a security-conscious administration might want to remedy. Academic but readable and sometimes surprising, as when Stent reminds readers that Putin offered important information just before 9/11 that went ignored.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691152974
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 148,722
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Angela E. Stent is professor of government and foreign service and director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University. Her books include Russia and Germany Reborn: Unification, the Soviet Collapse, and the New Europe (Princeton).

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
List of Acronyms xvii
George H. W. Bush and Russia Reborn 1
Chapter One The Bill and Boris Show 13
Chapter Two Rethinking Euro-Atlantic Security 35
Chapter Three Bush and Putin in the Age of Terror 49
Chapter Four The Iraq War 82
Chapter Five The Color Revolutions 97
Illustrations following page 123
Chapter Six The Munich Speech 135
Chapter Seven From Kosovo to Georgia: Things Fall Apart 159
Chapter Eight Economics and Energy: The Stakeholder Challenge 177
Chapter Nine Reset or Overload? The Obama Initiative 211
Chapter Ten From Berlin to Damascus: Disagreements Old and New 235
Chapter Eleven The Limits of Partnership 255
Acknowledgments 275
List of Interviewees 279
Chronology of Major Events in U.S.-Russian Relations 283
Notes 293
Bibliography 321
Credits for Illustration Section 327
Index 329

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