What the others are saying

Here’s a quote from a speech given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last Saturday at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow. I’m posting this because it’s helpful to broaden our horizons every once in a while with regard to where we get our news. This speech has some significant implications for understanding how Russian officials view U.S. foreign policy, and even perhaps what actions the Russian government might take in the future. Yet I’ve seen no mention of the speech on mainstream U.S. outlets.

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.”

It’s worth noting that perspectives like these aren’t totally absent from mainstream punditry in the U.S. Libertarians, for one, have long warned about the dangers of stretching American resources too thin in pursuit of foreign policy initiatives that don’t have immediate national security implications. Politicians like Rand Paul have even brought hints of such sentiments into the mainstream.

But this is still a far cry from what most Americans consider an “orthodox” perspective on U.S. foreign policy, even if most people agree we’re overextended in many world arenas. The whole thing reminds me of perennial debates about government spending cuts—nodding at mention of the need for spending cuts, cringing when someone tries to actually carry them out.

I realize I’m being quite general, here. I’m no expert on U.S. foreign policy. I simply think it’s worthwhile, in any setting, to hear alternative views—reasonable perspectives that might be habitually ignored by the bigger voices in town.