Meeting the Russia challenge: Lessons from the foreign policy transition from Bush to Obama

Friday, February 24, 2023, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST

As we close in on the one-year mark in Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, strategists and policymakers around the world are assessing the war to date, and what can be done to end the conflict. In considering how best to support Ukraine, many insights and lessons can be gleaned from previous strategic decisionmaking around national security challenges and great power conflict.

In “Hand-Off: The Foreign Policy George W. Bush Passed to Barack Obama,” top National Security Council experts who advised President Bush provide a critical assessment of the foreign policy legacy the Bush administration passed to President Obama. The book includes 30 newly declassified Transition Memoranda alongside a postscript from key administration officials at the time. As the Biden administration advances its national security strategy, this book offers a unique glimpse into how a previous administration managed a similar array of threats—including from China, Russia, Iran, and the Middle East—that continue to pose challenges to U.S. foreign policy today.

On February 24, Brookings Institution Press and Foreign Policy at Brookings will host 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Stephen Hadley, and Brookings Senior Fellow Fiona Hill in conversation with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to reflect on how the U.S. can be better prepared to meet the defining challenges of this decade. In particular, panelists will assess the history of bilateral U.S.-Russia relations and U.S. policy toward Russia going forward.

Online viewers can submit questions by emailing or on Twitter @BrookingsFP using #HandOff.

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