How did U.S.-Russian relations get so bad, and where can we go from here? And how much does the blame rest on Vladimir Putin personally? On the evening of February 15, more than one hundred students from Johns Hopkins University attended a debate on these questions cohosted by the campus chapter of the John Quincy Adams Society and the JHU European Horizons.
The contenders each had firsthand experience in dealing with U.S.-Russian relations. Both are former U.S. ambassadors: one, John Herbst of the Atlantic Council, represented the United States in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution; the other, John Evans, had served as Consul General in St. Petersburg when Putin was deputy mayor there. Johns Hopkins professor Steven David moderated. “It was a genuine, dynamic clash of perspectives,” said Dimitri A. Simes, head of the Hopkins JQA chapter. “Educational [and] valuable.”
Simes said that the audience was deeply excited about the discussion – speakers were mobbed by students who wanted to talk further, even following one out into the parking lot. “I have never seen a speaker at Hopkins generate so much excitement amongst attendees. A few people told us afterwards that their perspective changed.” Energetic, civil discussion like this about such fundamental questions in foreign policy is exactly what the John Quincy Adams Society is working to bring to campuses across the United States.