In This Review

The Russian People and Foreign Policy: Russian Elite and Mass Perspectives, 1993-2000
The Russian People and Foreign Policy: Russian Elite and Mass Perspectives, 1993-2000
By William Zimmerman
Princeton University Press, 2002, 235 pp

With this book, political science in Russian area studies comes of age. Zimmerman has matched the sophistication of the best works exploring the impact of mass and elite public opinion on U.S. foreign policy, a literature that he uses with great skill. More important, he shows how concepts and advanced methods -- in this case, in survey research -- can be made to serve a subject rather than the other way around. In his tale, it turns out that Russian public opinion plays a role in foreign policy similar to the real but modest role of American public opinion. It has similar disabilities but also a similar capacity to make coherent choices over fundamental policy direction. Moreover, the complicated intertwining of public and elite opinion resembles that in the United States. The good news: much of Russia supports liberal political and economic reforms, support that correlates with enlightened foreign policy views. The bad news: these reforms are primitive, and foreign policy views, at least before 2002, were hardening.