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‘Realism Plus’ In Aftermath Of Biden-Putin Summit

‘Realism Plus’ In 
Aftermath Of 
Biden-Putin Summit

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have had their much anticipated summit meeting in Switzerland. Now the question is: Will it improve anything?
Will Putin cease meddling in other countries? Will he cease persecuting dissidents and lovers of freedom in Russia? Will it lead to better US-Russian relations?
Biden’s own answer was: “We’ll see.” That’s not encouraging, for there is little ground for optimism.
So, the question then becomes: What will Biden do when what we see is not a change but more of the same?
No president would show all his cards in a situation like our current one with Russia. And it is better that neither president saber-rattled in the meeting.
But it is hard to avoid the sinking feeling that the answer may be: The US president will not do much at all about V Putin. There are limits, of course, to what any US president can do about any tyrant in any foreign land.
But Putin could not be blamed for assuming there will be no real test of his limits. Biden’s argument for chastising and containing Putin might be called realism, plus. He knows we cannot dictate terms to Putin. He also knows we cannot trust him.
But Biden’s basic argument is that world opinion and economic self-interest will bring Putin around.
That is, it is in Putin’s interest to seek the approval of civilized nations and not to be seen as a rogue autocrat leading a rogue state.
It is in his interest to accept international norms. If he wants expanded US trade and trade with the NATO countries, he will clean up his act.
If he wants US business investment, he will cease kidnapping and jailing US businessmen, like Michael Calvey.
In short, the new realism assumes Putin is a rational actor. Call it realism, plus hope.
But why would Putin be a more rational actor after the summit than in the years before?
All these reasoning calculations could have been made by him prior to the summit — for many years prior. Why would he start caring that the world thinks him a thug, now?