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Interview

Obama has a pretty good understanding of the modern world. He sees the changes, and knows the world much better than his colleagues and opponents. But he is uncertain of how best to manage things. Therefore, his foreign policy is likely to be reactive and shaped by the endless upcoming issues, such as potentially volatile changes outside the United States.

Interview

Obama has a pretty good understanding of the modern world. He sees the changes, and knows the world much better than his colleagues and opponents. But he is uncertain of how best to manage things. Therefore, his foreign policy is likely to be reactive and shaped by the endless upcoming issues, such as potentially volatile changes outside the United States.

Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Politics magazine and member of RIAC.

How do you assess the U.S. election campaign and the November 6 outcome? Did the “storm factor” really have an impact on the voting? Can natural disasters have an impact on election results in principle?

For some obscure reason, the Russian media outrageously exaggerated the hurricane factor. Actually, storms on the East Coast are quite common, a kind of tragic routine. This is not to scale down the disaster, but people perceive it as something natural, I suppose. Had the respective state and federal authorities failed, as in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Obama campaign would have suffered a severe blow. But this did not happen: the mechanisms worked and the electorate had no reason for discontent. If the hurricane did play into Obama’s hands, it was indirectly. Romney's insistence, and GOP-wide insistence, that the state is not a lifesaver refers not to the hurricane and natural disasters but rather to excessive federal government. Proper preparation for the hurricane has shown how the government can really save lives.

Reuters

The campaign itself was the most expensive in history, but it was dull and lacked either bright ideas or memorable slogans. It’s the social divide and acute contradictions, rather than the quality of the campaign, which added heat to the struggle, especially in the final stretch.

Looking back, how do you assess the Obama-Romney debates? Which of the candidates appeared more convincing in showing that his approaches are preferable?

Generally speaking, Obama is more persuasive and experienced, and the debate was merely further proof. However, he did not perform as well as expected, while Romney fared better than usual. On the whole, the debates were lackluster.

The differences between the Democratic and the Republican parties seem to have narrowed, and is mostly confined to political rhetoric. Why then have such a vigorous and expensive campaign? And does the identity of the winning party really matter to the United States?

Well, if we assume that the gap really has narrowed, the campaign has to be expensive in order to attract the electorate’s attention by promotion and show-biz techniques. However, I don’t think that’s the case. On the contrary, the candidates diverged on most domestic and economic issues, ideologically and conceptually.

And of course, the identity of the winner makes a great deal of difference since the parties are pursuing different policies orientated toward different social groups. It goes without saying that no president will change the United States’ government system, but in relation to key

As to foreign policy, the difference is less evident. But this is due to structural factors. On the one hand, the U.S. approach is very ideological and its essence remains unchanged. On the other, the international situation is highly complicated and no one really knows what to do.

Could these electoral events provide insights about future U.S. foreign policy, its priorities and possible changes?

Hardly so. Obama has a pretty good understanding of the modern world. He sees the changes, and knows the world much better than his colleagues and opponents. But he is uncertain of how best to manage things. Therefore, his foreign policy is likely to be reactive and shaped by the endless upcoming issues, such as potentially volatile changes outside the United States.

Questions prepared by Natalia Yevtikhevich, RIAC Program Manager

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Poll conducted

  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
     33 (31%)
    U.S. wants to deter Russia’s military and political activity  
     30 (28%)
    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
     24 (22%)
    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
     21 (19%)
 
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