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President Trump and Congress Must Cooperate To Get U.S.-Russia Relations Out of ‘Their Deep Ditch’

Sept. 8, 2017 (EIRNS)—In an opinion piece published in yesterday's Washington Post, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz warn that deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations constitute "a danger to the people of both nations and indeed the world."

Writing under the headline "Deep U.S.-Russia Malaise Calls for a Liaison between Trump and Congress," the two assert that "urgent action" is required to establish close cooperation between the Trump administration and Congress that can address problems in the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship and seek to improve it. They propose to create a new bipartisan group modeled on the Senate Arms Control Observer Group set up by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) and Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), which operated during the Reagan era to maintain regular communication between Congress and the State Department and arms control negotiators.

The problem today, they continue, is that the existing structure of sanctions, such as those recently passed by Congress, is so inflexible that it hamstrings foreign policy in dealing with Russia, frustrates European allies, and discourages Russia from "adjusting to a more positive course"—although the latter formulation contains the implied, and mistaken assertion that Russia is on the wrong course. Nunn and Moniz also fail to point out that the problem with the sanctions isn’t that they are just too harsh, but that they take foreign policy formulation out of the President’s hands, and should never have been imposed in the first place.

With that limitation, they insist there must be a framework that will allow Congress to maintain "effective oversight and accountability while providing political space and support for the administration to pursue meaningful U.S.-Russia discussions on vital interests—and adjust course, if warranted." They conclude that despite deep differences, "Washington and Moscow must recognize ... that there is an urgent need to address areas of common interests," chief among them reducing nuclear and other military risks and preventing "catastrophic terrorist attacks."

During the Cold War, they point out, there was an ongoing dialogue about nuclear risks, "and the lack of it today is dangerous.... Inaction and continued dysfunction between the Executive and Congressional branches of our government will make it even more difficult to put out the intense fires that we now face in many parts of the globe."

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