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How can the US develop future foreign policy toward Russia that does not lead to more conflict?

While some degree of conflict may be unavoidable, diplomacy and multi-lateralism may reduce the severity of future conflicts.

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Some degree of conflict with Russia seems inevitable due to the aggressive ultranationalism of Vladimir Putin. Russian interference in United States elections is particularly worrisome, as is its increasing authoritarianism and violation of human rights. However, retreating into nationalism and xenophobia on the part of the United States will worsen rather than help the situation.

The first step towards conflict reduction is multi-lateral action. This means working with global organizations which strengthen institutions and rule of law such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Criminal Court, and World Trade Organization. A rules-based global system channels conflicts into courtrooms and encourages talking rather than fighting. Bringing international pressure to bear can rein in bad actors.

Diplomacy is important. Reversing the decline of the diplomatic services under President Trump is an essential step in normalizing relationships. Experienced career diplomats, as opposed to political appointees, can negotiate on important issues such as nuclear arms treaties and trade. It is important, though, that the United States returns to being a law-abiding and reliable actor on the world stage; the sudden policy reversals (such as the abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal) and "America first" ethos of the current administration makes Russia and other countries distrust the United States. Strengthening rather than weakening ties with China will also help in dealings with Russia as antagonizing China leads to Russia and China allying against the United States.

Finally, strengthening NATO and maintaining a strong military presence in Europe will give the United States an aura of engagement and seriousness likely to earn the respect of Putin and make him more prone to good-faith negotiation.

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