Video 4: What is the role of individual leaders in building trust?

International relations involves the relationships between nations over many decades or even centuries. What role do the personalities of individual leaders play in these relationships and what are the implications for trust building? In this video, speakers discuss the role of U.S. and Russian leaders in general, as well as reflect on the specific role of the heads of state in each nation today. Before or after viewing this video, students can be invited to consider the different roles they believe heads of state, other government officials, as well as private citizens (e.g. students, artists, or business people), play in building trust between nations.

Download Video 4: Viewing Guide with questions for students.

Extension and Background Readings

“Debunked: Why There Won’t Be Another Cold War” (Matthew Rojansky and Rachel S. Saltzman, 2015) This article argues that “what distinguishes the contemporary situation from the conflict that governed the second half of the twentieth century—and the reason this cannot be called a New Cold War—is the profound difference in interpersonal relations.

Russia and the U.S. Election

What Russia's U.S. Experts Say about the 2016 Election
In this interview from The Moscow Times, Russian experts including Dmitry Suslov and Mikhail Troitskiy reflect on the status of the U.S. election and the role each candidate might play in future U.S.-Russia relations. After watching the video above and completing the viewing guide, students may consider the significance of the upcoming change in U.S. leadership. Consider in particular Yoshiko Herrera’s definition of “trustworthiness” and Dmitry Suslov’s description of how Putin perceives American leadership. What impact do you think a Clinton or a Trump presidency might have on trust-building efforts between these two nations?

For more background on Russian public sentiment about Donald Trump, see “Why Donald Trump Strikes a Chord with Russians” (BBC) and “Russians Like Donald Trump, but Do They Believe Him?” (CNN).

For reflection from Fyodor Lukyanov on Putin and a possible Clinton presidency, as well as background on Clinton’s engagement with Russia during the Obama administration's so-called “reset,” see "For Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin, the Mistrust Is Mutual" (Wall Street Journal). Dmitry Suslov also gives input in "The Kremlin May Savor Trump – but Still Might Prefer Clinton" (The Washington Post).