Michael McFaul Clarifies US Position on Human Rights in Russia
Michael McFaul, Barack Obama’s advisor on Russia and Eurasia, has commented today on my post about a “reset” in US-Russia human rights issues. The note was based on Kommersant’s report that “the USA are not going to teach Russia democracy any more and cause irritation in Moscow; they are going to focus on practical work with NGOs instead.”
McFaul comments (it’s in my Facebook, so not everyone can see):
Kommersant grossly misquoted me. See Interfax transcript if you want to see what I really said. And anyone who knows anything about my thinking would be suspicious of such an assessment of my views. My next book , out in a few weeks, is called “Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can.”
The Interfax transcript that Mr McFaul refers to reads:
…During his July visit to Moscow, President Obama said that we needed closer cooperation betweer [American and Russian] NGOs. Not just our government funding your NGOs or vice versa. We will continue doing this. But the new serious idea is to make our civil societies closer so that the governments not stand in the way of this process.
I would say that Barack Obama’s approach to these issues [of democracy and human rights] resembles the approach of Ronald Reagan much more than of anybody else. His approach is that we have a lot of common tasks to perform with Russia. We need to reset relations with Russia, this is our common interest. It also concerns the new START treaty, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea. We achieve results, we do certain things. This is very positive. But we would like to cooperate with both the government and the civil society, we made it clear in the first place. And we don’t want the cooperation on governmental level prevent us from cooperation between our civil societies. This is what our concept is based on. And it is indeed different from what the democrats and republicans have been doing before…