The US-led “liberal international order,” which has dominated the global landscape since the end of the Cold War, appears to be fading. Will it be succeeded by a new era of “triangular politics,” similar to the period in the 1970s when the US, USSR and China each maneuvered to be in the favored position of having better relations with the other two than they did with each other? A debate is underway in the new Trump Administration about whether Russia or China is America’s chief adversary, and whether a combination with Russia will forestall the formation of a Russia-China strategic alliance. Is Russia content to be China’s junior partner in Asia, and to support China’s assertive territorial claims against Japan and in the South China Sea? Or can American and Russian interests align closely enough to allow a common front to block China’s ambitions? Critical choices about the best ways to pursue their respective interests will soon be made in Washington, Moscow and Beijing. This lecture will focus particularly on the Russian-American “leg” of the triangle, with special attention to President Putin’s strategic objectives.
About the Speaker:
Robert H. Donaldson is Trustees Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at the University of Tulsa, where he was President from 1990 to 1996. Previously he was President of Fairleigh Dickinson University; Provost of Lehman College of the City University of New York; and a Professor and Associate Dean at Vanderbilt University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a Council International Affairs Fellow in 1973-74, serving as a consultant with the Department of State; he was also a Visiting Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College in 1978-79. He is author or co-author of six books and more than two dozen articles and book chapters, primarily on the politics and foreign policy of the USSR and Russia; his most recent book is The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests, 5th ed., 2014 (with Joseph L. Nogee and Vidya Nadkarni). He is Director of the Tulsa Committee on Foreign Relations and former President of the American Committees on Foreign Relations. He has been honored for his work in international higher education by an honorary doctorate awarded by Kyungnam University in Korea, and by the Order of Andres Bello, presented in 1991 by President Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela.