Throughout the eighteen-month-long 2016 election cycle, Russia and how it should be dealt with was a major talking point during debates and town halls. Whether it be Russia’s alleged yet unsubstantiated involvement in the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, or the question of whether it should be Russia or the United States who takes the lead in repairing the unstable and ever-fracturing Middle East, the national political dialogue seemed to revolve around Russia. Seeming to hark back to the Cold War, many candidates for President — including Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, to name a few — took positions of harsh unfriendliness toward Russia. Some candidates even suggested being prepared to “use force” against the nation if necessary, a true throwback to the rhetoric of politicians such as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle of the 1980’s. There is an understandable element of this anti-Russian sentiment, especially in the area of Middle Eastern foreign policy; as politicians running to become the President of the United States, it makes perfect sense that they would prefer that it is the United States who retains the most influential role in that area. However, in terms of the general discontent toward President Vladimir Putin expressed by most of these candidates, it is wholly illogical to be so repudiating. The fear of President Putin is based in whole or in part on unfounded rumors and assumptions about alleged censorship taking place within Russia perpetrated by the Putin administration. Though these are only rumors, they have been allowed to take control of how many Americans — including American politicians — perceive Russia. It can lead us nowhere good to have such baseless fears.
Following the election of now President-elect Donald Trump and the simultaneous defeat of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, these attacks on Russia in the realm of American politics have reached a fever pitch. This is mainly due to the accusation that President Putin had an indirect hand in hacking the previously mentioned private email server of Clinton and feeding those emails to Wikileaks, an international non-profit organization. This, despite the founder and owner of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, repeatedly denying these claims and instead citing an anonymous and unaffiliated person as the source of the 30,000 deleted emails that were published by Wikileaks. Nevertheless, these allegations have unearthed old stereotypes of Russian politicians as being authoritarian demagogues and sparked much debate about whether Russia deliberately influenced the American presidential election. The cohorts of the defeated Clinton in the mainstream media and the United States government have been quick to condemn President Putin for his supposed hand in assuring Trump’s victory through passing the emails to Wikileaks — again, despite there being no proof of this. However, it is admittedly easy to brand President Putin as guilty of purposely disrupting the election in such a way that the outcome would be skewed in favor of Trump, given how Putin has been prone to praise Trump and vice versa.
As a result of these understandable yet unreasonable fears and worries concerning Russia, it can be hard for some people to imagine what good can come of an improved relationship with Russia. In reality, Russia is an economic and political powerhouse with virtues of representation of the people and tradition ingrained into the society. In these ways, Russia and the United States are very much alike; many of the American people view traditional values such as liberty, freedom of speech, cultural maintenance, and the free market as vital to the upkeep of the society in which they live, and so do many Russian people. These similarities, as well as the parallels which can be made between the political power of Russia and the United States, present a massively overlooked opportunity for the mutual propserity of these two nations. A Russo-American friendship would make leaps and bounds in every possible facet. For instance, the combined forces of the United States and Russia backing Assad’s regime in Syria would quickly put an end to the Syrian Civil War that has been raging on for years. Terrorist organizations in the region such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda would be invariably brought to their knees with the joined might of both American and Russian intelligence forces. Israel would receive much stabler protection as a result, as no longer would there be power struggles between Russia and America as to who should be the greater influence on the Middle Eastern region. This sentiment is echoed by the recent maturation of relations between Russia’s President Putin and Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu; for the second time in a week, the two officials have met for what were both later described as effective and amicable talks.
In summation, the prospects of amicable relations between Russia and the United States are tremendous. The benefits are evident in the might and efficiency that such a relationship would bring. It would be an almost symbiotic relationship that would be beneficial for both partners. As such, President Putin and his nation should be welcomed by the American people, not rejected, and the fears and stereotypes of Russians in American society should be laid to rest, not restored to the former pedestal they enjoyed during the Cold War. Though it is true that the USSR was an authoritarian, regressive regime, the same cannot be said of the now-republican Russian Federation. Those who reject Russia’s newfound friendliness on the grounds of utterly unverified accusations, such as Russia meddling in the American presidential election, are — with all due respect to those people — fools without the gifts of neither realism nor opportunism.