Every American president since the end of the Cold War has called for better relations with Russia. But each has seen the relationship decline by the end of his time in office. Now the two countries are facing off in an unprecedented virtual war being fought without clear goals or boundaries. How did we get here? How did the Russian threat escalate to such dangerous proportions? Many blame Washington for being slow to wake up to Russian efforts to destroy democracy in America and the world.  But in The Russia Trap, a former Director of the CIA’s Russia analysis argues that this diagnosis misunderstands the problem. In this thought-provoking “pre-mortem,” George Beebe argues that new game-changing technologies, disappearing rules of the game, and distorted perceptions on both sides are combining to lock Washington and Moscow into an escalatory spiral that they do not recognize, and which their own actions are inadvertently fueling. The Russia Trap warns that all the pieces are in place for a World War I-type tragedy that could be triggered by a small, unpredictable event. Americans don’t worry about nuclear war the way they did thirty years ago. The Russia Trap cautions that the danger has become even greater today and lack of concern will come at a steep price. The Russia Trap is a terrifying but essential new work that will allow us to face this reality—and, in doing so, to take steps to divert the world from this path.

George Beebe is Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for the National Interest. He spent more than two decades in government as an intelligence analyst, diplomat, and policy advisor, including service as director of CIA’s Russia analysis and as Special Advisor to Vice President Cheney for Russia/Eurasia and Intelligence Programs. He was inducted into the Senior Intelligence Service in 2006.

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