Biden speaks with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

With Putin, Biden Should Channel His Inner Realist

February 03, 2022
Stephen Wertheim
This article was originally published by Foreign Policy, with the subheading: "A contest of ideas is hobbling U.S. policy in the standoff over Ukraine."

The author, a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes that despite Americans sounding “remarkably unified during the monthslong showdown that Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated with the West,” there are in fact two opposing sides that have emerged with their own views on what should come next. The author notes that the liberal internationalists are “yearning for hard punishments to save Ukraine from falling under Russia’s sway” while realists “favor diplomatic compromise between Washington and Moscow without even the threat of force.”  

The author observes that Biden has “adopted a pragmatic, largely realist view of the crisis” which argues that “Russia has greater interests in Ukraine and more resolve to fight for them than the United States and its allies ever will. Rather than attempt in vain to balance Russia on the battlefield, they want the United States to play a different game: Prevent an invasion through diplomacy and compromise, with the aim of reaching a modus vivendi.” In light of this, the author argues that President Biden “will have to be more determined to go down a realist path through serious diplomacy now.” 

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.

Author

Stephen Wertheim

Stephen Wertheim is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. Photo by The White House shared under a Creative Commons license.