'We will need to wait a bit more to see what impact the Administration will have'
Azeri.Today's exclusive interview with Jim Steinberg, former US Deputy Secretary of State under Obama's administration.
- Mr.Steinberg, a few days ago Trump ordered missile strikes on Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack on Idlib. What are your expectations of the further actions of the new US leader in Syria and the Middle East, in general?
- We are still in the early days of the Trump presidency. During the campaign President Trump was highly critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy for not protecting America’s interests and taking on too much responsibility for the security of our friends and allies. In his inaugural address he said his policy would be “America First”. However, since taking office he seems to have moderated some of these views, including more favorable statements about our alliances in Europe and Asia. Similarly, he seemed to argue that the US should not play a role in the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, but now the Administration seems more favorable, particularly in light of the continued atrocities there. So we will need to wait a bit more to see what impact the Administration will have.
- How will the Russia-US relations develop following the US missile attack on the Syrian airbase?
- New Presidents often find that world is more difficult, and more complex than what they describe during the presidential campaign – a learning curve my colleague Kurt Campbell and I describe in our book “Difficult Transitions”. As the new president begins to learn the facts, and interacts with knowledgeable experts in Congress, among allies and senior officials, they adapt their policies. It would appear that President Trump, perhaps with the advice of experienced officials like Secretary James Mattis and Fiona Hill, have come to learn more about the problematic nature of Russia’s policies, from Eastern Europe, to the Middle East to nuclear weapons, and is adjusting his policy to fit those realities.
- Should we expect intensification of the US role in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement?
- I would hope that the new Administration would take the time to learn from former officials and other experts about the importance of the South Caucasus countries to the United States, including our security and economic interests in the region, as well as our hopes for advancing peace, prosperity and democratic reform. As Deputy Secretary of State I was privileged to play an active part in trying to help the countries of the region settle their outstanding conflicts which would benefit everyone. The US has an interest in continued involvement; I would hope that as the new Administration learns more about our interests, it will agree to play an active role and not leave the issue to Russia.
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