The Polish news outlet Onet did another interview with me on the US election and its potential ramifications for Poland and other Eastern European states. You can read excerpts in Polish here, and the original interview in English below:
Hillary Clinton has the chance to win the 2016 US presidential elections and become US president. But there are some concerns about her record as Secretary of State regarding “reset policy” towards Russia. What do you think about it? Is there a risk that Clinton would try to introduce new “reset policy” in relations with Russia if she wins presidential elections?
The US-Russia relationship has recently become extremely complicated, to say the least. A central source of contention is Russia’s alleged interference in the US election, which has included possibly collaborating with Wikileaks to hack the Democratic National Committee, and Putin’s embrace of Donald Trump, who has encouraged Russia to get Hillary Clinton’s emails. These actions have no precedent in US electoral history. Furthermore, since the 2009 “reset”, Russia has taken Crimea, which transformed its relationship with the US and the West in general. There is no returning to the old “reset” anymore.
Russia’s aggression is a concern not only for the US but for NATO, especially as Russia contemplates invading other Eastern European states. No one wants a new Cold War. Everyone in America who can remember the first Cold War is wary of revived tensions. But no one wants Russia to pursue its current course of aggression either. The US will likely have a very tense relationship with Russia in the years to come, which will require serious diplomatic effort on Clinton’s part. Who she picks for Secretary of State and other key positions, should she win, will be critical to making US diplomatic policy effective and avoiding more serious conflict.
“Reset policy” is the main concern for countries from Central and Eastern Europe such as Poland. Should Poland worry about New “reset” policy? Is there some way for Poland to stop – just in case – such attempts by American authorities in the nearest future?
Right now, Poland’s biggest concern should be a Trump win, since Trump has openly stated he would support the US withdrawing from NATO and would do nothing to stop Russian invasion of Eastern European states. Trump advisors such as Paul Manafort have intervened in other Eastern European states, including Ukraine, and Trump has been praising Putin excessively for years. Trump is unlikely to care if Russia invades Poland. He will probably cheer it on.
If Clinton is elected, she will likely continue the standard US policy toward Eastern Europe and Russia, which includes participation in NATO and a commitment to protecting NATO members like Poland from Russian aggression. It is unclear, given the repercussions of Russia’s possible involvement in the US election, how or whether a Clinton administration will continue to collaborate with Russia in other international ventures. But you can basically consider the Russian “reset” over. While Clinton has defended the “reset” as a success before, it is very difficult to claim that the “reset” policy was effective given Russia’s actions over the past few years.
The Obama administration is pursuing active policy towards NATO (and strengthening NATO Eastern flank). Would active Washington’s role within NATO be the best guarantee in order to avoid new “reset policy” towards Russia?
Like I said, the US under Clinton would likely maintain a strong commitment to NATO and to NATO’s mission of helping its Eastern European member states. The US relationship with Russia has substantially worsened over the past two years – and particularly over the past two months – and Clinton will need to repair this relationship while also not allowing Russia to pursue aggressive policies against neighboring foreign states. This will be very difficult for her administration to accomplish. But at this point, the US’s commitment to NATO is strong and would remain strong under a Clinton administration as well.