From Conflict to Cooperation? Exploring U.S.- Russia Relations

On November 17th, the World AffairsRussia Panel 2
Council’s Global Classroom program was honored to host distinguished panel speakers Scott Radnitz, Jacqueline Miller, and Jill Dougherty for a timely teacher’s workshop at Seattle Preparatory School exploring U.S.-Russia relations. Dr. Radnitz, director of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington, launched the discussion with fascinating insight into the systemic factors that shape post-Soviet political systems. He placed Putin’s presidency into context, and argued that Putin’s mass popularity (his approval rating is a whopping 89.9%) is due in large part to his ability to bolster Russia’s relevance on the world stage. Jackie Miller, World Affairs Council’s President and CEO, drew on her expertise in national security policy in order to dissect whether or not Russia is a threat to the U.S. Jackie discussed the implications of Defense Secretary Carter’s assertion that Russia represents an ‘existential threat’ to the U.S., and demonstrated how events like the invasion of Ukraine and an alliance with Iran and Bashar Al-Assad in Syria meaningfully diverge from U.S. interests.  Jill Dougherty, who was with CNN for more than three decades and acted as their Moscow Bureau Chief, flipped the discussion and challenged her audience to consider Russian perspectives on the U.S. as a threat. She reflected on her robust experience on the ground in order to highlight Russian interests, and to show how rhetoric that ridicules Putin palpably impacts Russian relations with the U.S., and with President Obama in particular.

Our speakers instigated a lively discussion, and educators expressed excitement to bring up the debates presented by our panelists in their own classrooms. Global Classroom director Ryan Hauck concluded the event by highlighting lesson plans and resources for teachers on Russian history, politics, culture, and technologies. A full version of this 70-page resource packet can be downloaded at www.world-affairs.org/teacher-resources.