In his first book, “Back to Containment: Dealing with Putin’s Regime,” David J. Kramer traces the rise of Vladimir Putin and the U.S.-Russia relationship over the course of the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He argues that the Putin regime is a serious threat to the United States and the Western world and that the United States needs to develop a tougher policy of containment and pushback. Indeed, he writes very nature of Putin’s regime makes real cooperation between Russia and the United States virtually impossible, except perhaps on arms control and non-proliferation, though even there cooperation is far from automatic. Putin’s aggressive, bloody responses to perceived threats, internal and external, make him an unsavory interlocutor, to say the least. Under his rule, Russia does not fulfill the agreements it signs and frequently violates international norms. Putin and his regime perpetuate the narrative of an enemy from outside to justify his way of ruling at home, and they seek to discredit the West even as they exploit its openness and financial systems. Accordingly, Putin bears the bulk of the blame for the current state of affairs in U.S.-Russian relations.
Kramer is the former Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, and was previously President of Freedom House, and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He is currently a Senior Fellow in the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.