Dr. Donald Jensen: The importance and the threats to current Atlantic relations

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This week The US-ltaly Global Affairs Forum Agenda America Extra offers you an exclusive interview with Dr. Donald Jensen, USITF Director and CEP A Editor in Chief.

Doctor Jensen, you have been recently appointed at the prestigious CEPA, in Washington D.C.: could you please explain to our followers why are so important East-West relations in this complicated world?

Yes, I have recently taken over as Editor in Chief, the position responsible for its analytical publications. CEPA is a bipartisan group of talented people dedicated to Atlanticism — strengthening the values and joint interests of the US and Europe. It is an important time to be engaged in this important work, since ties are frayed on both sides of the Atlantic for various reasons. I personally have extensive personal ties in Europe, two of my grandparents came from Italy, I have great love for that country, and enjoy working with my counterparts there (I also have an affiliation with the Germani think tank in Rome).

As for East West relations, if you mean ties between the Atlantic Community and Russia, few people would deny they at the lowest point since the Cold War. The West has made serious mistakes in dealing with Moscow since 1991, but the prime reason for the downturn has been the rise of an authoritarian, revanchist Russia interested in overturning a world order under which it has in some ways flourished since the end of the Soviet Union. It is a very dangerous situation. As Russia showed when it invaded Uklkraine, it i willing to use force to reshape the global order into what it thinks it wants. China is a risin power (not declining as is Russia by many measure). Over the longer term China is likely to be a greater geopolitical threat than Russia is today.

You were one of the the most Senior Diplomat at US Embassy in Moscow during Eltsin ‘s Presidency: is the present situation better or worse and why?

Yes. Actually I was there a little before — during the summer of 1991 when the USSR fell apart because of the August Coup. Like many other Americans, I thought at the time that, freed from the shackles of Soviet communism, Russia would follow the same path toward democracy and free markets that did Poland, the Baltic states, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and now even Ukraine. I was wrong. Russsia had a far greater trouble overcoming its Soviet past than did those countries. The result was Putinism, a tragedy for that great country that has set Russia back many years. The Kremlin often blames the US for trying to impoverish Russia during the 1990s. It is wrong to do so. At no point did the US want anything but a free, democratic Russia. We made policy mistakes, to be sure, and underestimated the challenge at hand, but the thing any of us wanted was to have Russia back as an adversary rather than as a partner. So we have to hope that Russia will be a more normal nation after the next leader.

About The Author: Dr. Donald N. Jensen is US-ltaly Global Affairs Forum’s Director. Dr. Donald Jensen is Editor in Chief and a fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). From 2002-2008 he was Director of Research and Analysis at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where he oversaw that international news organization’s analytical publications, including the daily RFE/RL Newsline. He also managed the organization’s extensive program of conferences and briefings. Dr. Jensen writes extensively on Russian domestic politics, foreign policy, security and energy issues, especially the politics of Russian business and has lectured at a variety of universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and George Washington University. As a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies from 2008 to 2014, Jensen led a team of open source experts who provided analytical support to the U.S. government on a variety of foreign policy issues. Dr. Jensen received his B.A. from Columbia University and Master’s and Ph.D. in government from Harvard. To contact the author for comment and critics: info@usitalyforum.com.

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