Daniel Treisman, 53, is one of the leading US experts on Russian politics and economics. A professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, he was educated at Oxford University and Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1995 with a Ph.D. Treisman has published four books and many articles in political science and economics journals, as well as in public affairs journals like Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. He has also served as a consultant for the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and as acting director of UCLA's Center for European and Eurasian Studies.
In Russia, he is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Higher School of Economics and a member of the Jury of the National Prize in Applied Economics. Treisman has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford) and the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna), and has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Smith Richardson Foundation. His latest book "The New Autocracy: Information, Politics, and Policy in Putins Russia" has been published this month by Brookings Institution Press.
WZ: Indictments against Russian citizens tied to the Kremlin for election meddling in D.C., American soldiers killing Russian mercenaries in Syria, Russia developing space weapons in partnership with China: Professor Treisman, how would you describe the state of U.S.-Russian relations in 2018?
Daniel Treisman: The relationship is characterized by multiple conflicts at different levels, along with a few remaining areas of possible cooperation. For instance, the US would like Russia to be part of the coalition pressuring North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program, and there is a shared interest in avoiding clashes in Syria like the one that recently occurred. Managing the conflicts is unusually difficult for several reasons. To name just two, Russia policy in the US is being made or at least strongly influenced from multiple centers – the White House, Congress, the State Department, and, indirectly, the judicial system, including Robert Mueller. And, second, Russia appears committed to a policy of weakening the West through covert actions, which makes it hard to resolve any problems through open dialogue.