With Russia's takeover in Crimea — and the threat of further aggression looming — the United States has to think "strategically," former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn say.
In a commentary in The Washington Post
, Shultz, who served as President Reagan's secretary of state from 1982 to 1989, and Nunn, CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, argue Russia is undermining its own security by "the resentment and fear" its aggression has created.
And that, they wrote, will ultimately affect Russia's markets, investments and the standard of living of its people.
"This is the time for strategic thinking and implementing a strategic design," they wrote. "It is also a time for maximizing cooperation at home and with our allies abroad."
Russia's plentiful oil and gas, which it ships to the Ukraine and western Europe, and its trading and financial deals with Germany, Britain and France are all "potential liabilities," the former officials say.
"The Russian economy depends on these trading and financial arrangements and on income from oil and gas sales that are now taking place at historically high prices," they wrote, adding now is the time for the United States to speed up its own exports of oil and gas.
And, they add, the United States and its allies need to "ensure that our military capacity is strengthened" and that "European allies get serious about their defense capabilities."
"A key to ending the Cold War was the Reagan administration’s rejection of the concept of linkage, which said that bad behavior by Moscow in one sphere had to lead to a freeze of cooperation in all spheres," they wrote.
In the meantime, the former officials urged securing nuclear materials and preventing "catastrophic terrorism," destroying Syrian chemical stockpiles and preventing nuclear proliferation.
"We need to engage with Russia against the background of realism and development of our strengths and our agenda," they wrote. "We can use our strategic advantages... Our hand is strong if we play it wisely."
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