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In addition to the security reasons rooted in many aspects of science and technology for U.S. involvement in Russia (see Chapter 4), several responses can be made to the limited vision of near-term technology initially set forth by this group of experts. These responses include the following:

  • The scientific base of Russia may be in a fractured state, and half of the vast repositories of industrial equipment may be obsolete, but many examples of significant Russian contributions to international science and to the development of the products of multinational companies exist, even during the dismal 1990s. Although Russian technological prowess has become badly tarnished, a few well-honed patches shine through. The Russian leadership is determined to show that technology born and used in Russia can again become its engine of growth without the need for Western assistance from the international development banks or from foreign aid agencies. In the view of a somewhat overly optimistic but headstrong Russian government, there are many hopeful signs that the economy is beginning to move from one that is simply a source of natural resources and cheap technical labor to one that is knowledge-based as well. Determination, when followed by demonstrated commitment, will be a good first step toward success.2

  • Russia occupies one-seventh of the earth’s land surface, and many developments in Russia affect the United States. The release of environmental pollutants in the Arctic and in the world’s oceans, the cutting of forests serving as carbon sinks that help control greenhouse gases, and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases are all global issues that cannot be ignored. Also, such a large landmass will remain astride many international communications and transportation routes that rest on properly functioning modern technology, particularly at the nodes. And trade with many bordering countries, while currently limited, will have a growing influence on world markets.

  • It is better for U.S. organizations to be actively engaged in investment activities and cooperative programs in a variety of fields than to sit on the sidelines, constantly guessing the future of the large, untapped Russian market, reacting to the next Russian technological surprise—whether it be a startling achievement or a technological catastrophe—or assessing the emergence of new science and economic partnerships with countries with


For an assessment of the state of industrial technology in Russia at the end of the 1990s, see McKinsey Global Institute (1999).

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