We can know only so much about how a candidate will conduct foreign policy—Foreign Affairs manifestos, slates of advisers, and VFW addresses notwithstanding. But compared with the Russian “electorate,” Americans have available full-body foreign-policy MRIs of their candidates.
Not that it matters, but Medvedev remains a foreign-policy cipher. Since his name was first bruited as Putin’s successor, Russia watchers have been emptying out the samovar for clues. Few are forthcoming, less than a week before Medvedev is to be elected.
I was interviewed today on a shadowy Russian-language TV station that broadcasts to South Ossetia, and was asked about Medvedev’s foreign policy—will it change? “How should I know?” I replied. I was told, “Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The viewers don’t like uncertainty.” Sounds like The McLaughlin Group would go over big in Tskhinvali.
Update: I am at least as well informed as President Bush:
QUESTION: Mr. President, I’d like to ask you about Russia. The Democratic candidates, when asked about the new Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, didn’t appear to know a great deal about him.
I wonder what you can say about him, how much power you think he’s really got with Putin still in the picture.
And critics would say you badly misjudged Vladimir Putin. So what would be your cautionary tale to your successor about the threat Russia poses and how to deal with this new leader?
BUSH: I don’t know much about Medvedev either.
And what’ll be interesting to see is who comes to the — who represents Russia at the G-8, for example.
It’ll be interesting to see — it’ll help, I think, if — give some insight as to how Russia intends to conduct foreign policy after Vladimir Putin’s presidency. And I can’t answer the question yet.