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U.S.-Russia Relations: Report from the New Dartmouth Conference (NIF Report)

This 2004 report by Taylor Willingham provides an overview of the second New Dartmouth Conference, this one held in Russia, which examined U.S.-Russia Relations. See more details on the NIF website. From the report…

The overwhelming common theme from both sides was that citizens make a clear distinction between the “human” aspect of the relationship and the political aspects – drawing a line between governments and people. Russians initially saw the relationship as the competence of the government, but shifted to an emphasis on citizen to citizen interactions after deliberating. U.S. citizens were equally as emphatic about the need for citizens to interact with each other though exchange programs.

There is still fear and distrust between the two countries, but for very different reasons. As Hal Saunders noted in his synopsis, Americans fear anything that clashes with what they believe. Thus, any move Russia makes away from its current democratic path, will likely pose a serious concern to Americans. In contrast, Russia’s concern about the U.S. is a response to the aggressive stance of the U.S. in the world. They noted that America’s actions in particular situations – Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq – contradicts its proclaimed aims: fighting terrorism and supporting democracy.

One final theme is related to each country’s identity. Many Russians long for a return to the day when they were superpower, but are torn as to how to achieve this objective. Furthermore, they are concerned about the influx of western culture (particularly the U.S. pop media).

More about National Issues Forums and their Reports on the Issues…

The National Issues Forums (NIF) network includes civic, educational, and other organizations, and individuals, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation in America. NIF issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. Look through all the NIF issue guides and their corresponding moderator guides, DVDs, and other resources at www.nifi.org/issue_books.

Reports are published periodically to communicate the outcomes of forums held across the nation about a particular issue. Making use of participants’ answers to forum questionnaires, reports from moderators, and in-depth studies of selected forums, these reports describe in some detail what happened as people deliberated about the issue at hand. View all NIF Reports on the Issues at www.nifi.org/reports/issues.aspx.

NIF issue books & associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/discussion_guides/index.aspx.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/reports/detail.aspx?catID=19&itemID=2587

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