Friday, February 10, 2017

A letter to a reader in Russia

Nicholas J. Cull,

Cull image from

Despite the new U.S. President's well-known openness toward the Kremlin, I can think of no relationship where public diplomacy and exchanges are more important or harder to do than the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Last week I received a letter from a reader in Russia. It raises important questions and I thought it was worth sharing both the text of the inquiry and my response.  ...
You ask about the way back from the current U.S.-Russian tension. I believe that only so much can be done by leaders in this world, and that understanding requires connections between ordinary people.
I am concerned that our sources of information are so often unreliable or colored against the enemy. I feel that the world would be safer if 1) there was more direct contact between peoples of the world through exchanges and personal knowledge, and 2) if we had a process to formally discuss the issue of misunderstanding between and weaponization of the media, which all sides complain about. The road away from the U.S.-Russian crisis in the early 1980s included this kind of media-focused negotiation: the so-called "information talks." We need a cyber arms control process too. ...

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