Nearly a decade has passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Today developments in the region trouble the world once again as Russia simultaneously struggles with economic crisis and attempts to pursue a newly assertive foreign policy. But today's Russia is a very different country from the old USSR. It is no longer a superpower, no longer ruled by a Communist dictatorship. And the United States is still trying to formulate its foreign policy toward the new Russia.
Dimitri Simes was born in the USSR. Later, after emigrating to the United States, he became a key advisor to former president Richard Nixon and accompanied him on several trips to the USSR and Russia. Since Nixon's death he has traveled there frequently on his own. He has watched the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of Russia. And now, in "After the Collapse," Simes articulates his concern that the United States is mismanaging its relationship with Russia by focusing on the short-term and by patronizing Russia rather than treating it with hardheaded pragmatism based on U.S. national interests.
In addition to being a respected analyst and commentator on foreign affairs in Washington, Simes has close contacts with both the Yeltsin government and key opposition figures, which enables him to better understand the interaction between the United States and Russia. He recognizes that Russia must resolve its economic chaos before it can again become a great power, and he cautions that the evolving Russian government is not a democracy by Western standards. Finally, he observes that, like all powerful nations, Russia has its own interests and, despite its loss of superpower status, it will oppose U.S. foreignpolicy where its interests conflict with ours; its relationships with Iraq and Serbia are two such examples.
"After the Collapse" is filled with insights into Russia's geopolitical thinking, as well as our own, and contains important information about some of the key political figures who are shaping that country's destiny. Deeply informed by Mr. Simes's firsthand observations, it is a penetrating, persuasive, and lucid look at a country that remains too little understood in the West.