Beyond Reset (re: The Lozansky Forum)

The 30th World Russia Forum 2011 (The Lozansky Forum) took place in Washington, DC on March 29–30 and was unquestionable, if only expected, success.  Kudos to The MaestroEdward Lozansky, and his crew of bright young volunteer assistants!

The "official flavor" of the year was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic space mission.  Reflecting the occasion, American Astronauts and Russian Cosmonauts attended some of the Forum events.  It's not often that one can meet, listen to and even shake hands with someone whose deeds expanded the borders of what the humankind can achieve.

Yet, the focus of the Forum was obviously where it always is: on the current status and the future of U.S.-Russia relations.

Many will remember the Forum (or, at least, its Monday afternoon session) for a spirited exchange — the Russian word "перепалка" also comes to mind — between the legendary neocon, Richard Perle, and Konstantin Kosachev, the well-informed and influential chairman of the Russian Duma committee on foreign affairs.  Although made unnecessary confrontational by Perle, the spat has demonstrated that the issues dividing both countries are real.

That said, many experts agreed on at least two points.  The first point of agreement was that "reset" in U.S.-Russia relations was actually working.  Barely two-year old, the "reset" has already resulted in a number of positive developments.  One of the most important, if difficult to quantitate, has been the warming up of the very tone of the bilateral dialogue.  As shrewdly pointed out by Robert Legvold, the "reset" could be called a success if only because "there are expectations of further progress."

The other thing that most of the experts also agreed upon was that we were, somewhat surprisingly, beyond "reset" and that a new, "post-reset", agenda in U.S.-Russia relations must be developed.  Some argued that the relations are too focused on arms control, which in itself drags them back in the Cold War past.  At the same time, economic relations between the two countries remain in embryonic state, and there is no consensus with regards to why they refuse to grow in earnest.  (American experts traditionally refer to Russia's poor investment climate, whereas their Russian counterparts predictable invoke discriminative measures like the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment.)

Creating a roadmap from "reset" to a "sustainable partnership" (Legvold's term) won't be easy and will require efforts on many different levels.  However, there is every reason to feel optimistic.  One only has to remember where U.S.-Russia relations were just two years ago, at the time of the 28th World Russia Forum.  The New START agreement was still under negotiations, the "123" nuclear civil cooperation agreement was not even resubmitted to Congress, and the Forum participants were trying to persuade each other and themselves that — in the words of  William Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State — "the United States and Russia matter to one another." 

Let's hope that the next Lozansky Forum will give us more reasons for optimism.  Let's also hope that Ed Lozansky will invite Richard Perle again.  And Perle will come and, perhaps, even stay for lunch. 

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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16 Responses to Beyond Reset (re: The Lozansky Forum)

  1. Poppy says:

    Eugene, please excuse my pedantism –
    does ‘quantitate’ stay for ‘quantitize’ ?

  2. Eugene Ivanov says:

    My dictionary( gives no reference to “quantitize.” There is a verb “quantize”, but it’s meaning is different from “quantitate” (to determine the quantity of, especially with precision).

  3. AS far as the bad business climate is concerned. Medvedev has quite a lot to say and some suggestions.
    “But what do we see today? Unfortunately, we see that this confidence is lacking, to be honest about the situation. I already gave in the past my assessment of the investment climate in our country: it is very bad, very bad.”

  4. Perle wouldn’t be Perle if he acted differently.
    For improvement sake, one hopes for some others to get more of the high profile treatment.
    Even with the subjectivity factor, there’s enough of a way to objectively gauge quality input over some propped sources which lack in comparison.

  5. Eugene says:

    I agree. If Medvedev spoke at the Forum, he might well be confused with Ed Verona, the president of US-Russia Business Council.
    Speaking of Medvedev, his move against Sechin & Co is huge (and I do believe that the whole business of removing ministers from the boards of state companies was targeted principally at Sechin, Shmato and the likes). If this goes through — and I see no reason why it won’t — Medvedev can claim a MAJOR achievement. The major.

  6. Eugene says:

    Sure, I wasn’t serious when recommending to invite Perle again. He might be a “legend”, but I see no value in listening to him in person: the crap like he was delivering could be found on any of the zillion of Russophobic sites.
    I was more serious about lunch. Had he stayed, folks would have had a chance to approach him and tell him he was a dinosaur.

  7. Eugene,
    On Capitol Hill, that kind of MO is typical. The need to engage folks with his views is of value, due to their relative clout and those folks subconsciously influenced by them (as in not being so well informed about some other views).
    At the same time, there remains a good deal more which could and should be done.

  8. Poppy says:

    Eugene, thanks, I didn’t know that. The arrivement of new words is so massive nowadays, I just fail to quantify.
    And there’s so little time I can invest in my English improvesation.

  9. Bianca says:

    It was my first attendance of WRF. As a novice, I was disappointed. I expected to find a forum discussing innovation and economic development issues, and the way private sector — including small business — can engage. However, for the most part, I found politics wall-to-wall. Having endured Mr. Pearle, and many a lecture on political science, not to mention the closing session on the travails of NGOs, I realized politics was indeed the main focus. I met some delightfull people. The organizers have done a great job managing the event. They deserve every praise.

  10. Eugene Ivanov says:

    I generally agree with you: the focus of THIS PARTICULAR venue is politics. Perhaps, there are other events out there focusing on what is of most interest to you: innovation and economic development.
    That said, both morning sessions (on Monday in the Senate and on Tuesday at the GWU) were largely about business. Whether they were exciting enough, I don’t know: missed both:)
    But, hey, you met some delightful people! Not bad for the first time.
    Best Regards,

  11. Russian Studies encompasses a wide range of subjects.
    My impression is that the WRF attempts to be relatively well rounded. The feedback from my 2009 appearance was great. It was a pleasure for me to see folks (who up to that point) I’d only known from afar, while touching base with some old friends.
    That said, much more could and should be done.
    This includes bringing in and propping some new folks, with different and substantive ideas at the more high profile of venues.
    Enough is already known about the frequently propped elitny. Like I said, there’re some other folks out there with great input.
    While appreciating the turnout and feedback on the 2009 panel I was on, it appeared that most, if not all of the day one panelists weren’t present for the day two discussion I was involved with.
    Also disconcerting from my vantage-point is the non-followup from venues including RT.
    These comments are intentionally on the frank side to highlight what the existing status quo has been – one which can be defintely improved upon.

  12. I want an iron curtain ,wall and a missile defense system against America. The terrorists are America and France and its satellites. Tsunami ,earthquake and other divine retribution are just a gift, after their killing, bombing, violens. I can’t but say I so much hate you !!!

  13. Eugene says:

    Hi Mike,
    I agree with you on many, if not all, points. That said, Lozansky isn’t magician, and he acts within certain financial limits, which perhaps makes him choose safer venue than he wished himself.

  14. Hi back Eugene,
    I’m appreciative of what he has done. There’s the relative matter at hand.
    The situation is better with a WRF and RT than without their existence.
    A quick sports analogy having to do with the NY Knicks. Their making the playoffs this year is an improvement. At some point, such an achievement minus further advancement will be considered falling short of expectation.
    Likewise and in terms of what we’re discussing, some factors remain in place of a situation that can be improved upon – as some other viable options haven’t been fully utilized.

  15. From a thread at Leos Tomicek’s Austere Insomniac blog, someone brought attention to this take of the recent WRF:
    Running counter to Perle, I think it more preferable to have analytical minds who willingly test their views by facing critical follow-up.
    Along with some at times seeming and qualitatively suspect IMO cronyism, the “star” syndrome is a major reason why the high profile coverage/panels are periodically lacking.

  16. Pingback: The World Russia Forum 2012: How To Counter Media Bias Against Russia?

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