What Went Wrong With The Reset?

An assistant shows the block with a red

The GOP is criticizing Clinton’s outreach to Russia:

“Hillary’s Russia Reset: Nailed It,” proclaimed the website for America Rising, an opposition research firm and political action committee that has been taking aim at potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidates since soon after the 2012 contest.  The tumblr post tweaking Clinton featured the then Secretary of State cackling as she held out her infamous “reset” button with the Russian foreign minister, a gesture that can come across as silly in light of recent events in Ukraine.

But that was just the opening salvo in what has been a steady stream of knocks on the presumed Democratic front-runner, with Arizona Senator John McCain telling The Daily Beast on Saturday that Clinton “got it all wrong.”

Larison pushes back:

[T]here have been a number of lazy assertions that the so-called “reset” is somehow at fault in what has been happening.

When the “reset” was still going on, it had some modest but real successes, but once the original agenda was exhausted there was very little incentive or political will on either side to keep it going. Judged on its own terms as a means of repairing U.S.-Russian relations from its previous nadir in 2008, the “reset” did what it was supposed to do, but it could not magically change how Russia perceived its interests in the “near abroad” nor could it alter the way that the Kremlin behaved inside Russia. The Libyan war and the way it was conducted certainly soured Russia on further cooperation, especially because of how Russia was persuaded to permit U.N. authorization, and by 2012 the “reset” was essentially over. In its wake, U.S.-Russian relations resumed their dreary course as the U.S. was pursuing a number of goals in Syria and elsewhere that Russia flatly rejected.

(Photo: An assistant shows the block with a red button marked “reset” in English and “overload” in Russian that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting on March 6, 2009 in Geneva. By Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images. Update from a reader: “‘Reset’ in Russian is ‘perezagruzka’.)