Ambassador Huntsman’s Pragmatism Can Bring ‘Sanity’ to US-Russia Relations

© AFP 2023 / PAUL J. RICHARDSJon Huntsman (File)
Jon Huntsman (File) - Sputnik International
New US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is a pragmatist capable of bringing a semblance of much-needed sanity to relations between Moscow and Washington especially at a time when the American press has been fueling anti-Russian hysteria, analysts told Sputnik.


Jon Huntsman (File) - Sputnik International
Global Business Experience to Help Huntsman as US Ambassador to Russia
(Sputnik) — The White House announced the former Utah governor’s appointment on Tuesday, which some saw as an interesting pick when taking into account Huntsman’s sharp criticism of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, Huntsman’s commercial and diplomatic background apparently outweighed previous criticism of the president.

In the private sector Huntsman headed a number of corporate executive boards including Hilton, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and Caterpillar, the White House noted in a press release. In addition, he helped lead a family chemicals company that conducts business in Russia. Huntsman also has previous diplomatic experience, including his role as envoy to China from 2009 to 2011 and to Singapore in the 1990s.


Relations between Moscow and Washington recently spiraled downward amid madness in the US media over allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US elections, which have complicated efforts by US and Russian diplomats to repair ties.

There have also been confrontations diplomatically, however, including over the US seizure of Russian property which Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon have been trying to resolve.

Eurasia Center Executive Vice President Earl Rasmussen told Sputnik on Thursday that Huntsman’s background is a good sign for stabilizing the relationship.

"I have heard many positive things about Mr. Huntsman," Rasmussen said. "I think Mr. Huntsman credentials and pragmatism could potentially bring some sanity back into US-Russia relations. Let’s hope so."

Rasmussen praised Huntsman of having vast experience already on the issues facing Russia and on other areas of Eurasia.

"He is conservative but more centric and pragmatic. Between his business interests and his diplomatic experience he brings an understanding of issues across Eurasia, from Russia and Central to South Asia and China," Rasmussen said.

While being a Republican, Huntsman has served in cabinets of both Republican and Democratic administrations, most recently as Ambassador to China for previous President Barack Obama, Rasmussen recalled

"As former governor and a businessman he has a grasp of issues facing local governments, corporations, and the average American. He brings both diplomatic and business expertise which is also positive," he said.

Rasmussen also dismissed the argument that Huntsman would face conflict of interest issues because of his previous business experience in dealing with Russia.

"While he does have international business interests, I personally do not view this as a conflict of interest issue but rather a strength that could be very beneficial in building a greater understanding and improving communications between Russia and the US," Rasmussen explained.

Huntsman’s broad experience would enable him to take a broader, more constructive view of US-Russian relations that would be less influenced by partisan accepted views and prejudices in Washington, Rasmussen suggested.

"I think too often our policies are driven by select political agendas of the few rather than the greater needs of the country. Having a political and business world view will be unique and will provide a perspective that is much needed," he said.

However, Rasmussen cautioned that Huntsman could face intense criticism seeking to derail his confirmation from critics who did not want to see US-Russia relations improve.

"[T]he current Russophobic hysteria inside the beltway, especially amongst political elites and the Main Stream Media, may find this troublesome and potentially could create some challenges to his confirmation," he warned.


Jon Huntsman - Sputnik International
Huntsman’s Diplomatic, Private Sector Experience to Help Succeed in Russia
Independent Institute Center for Peace & Freedom Director Ivan Eland agreed that Huntsman was a responsible and constructive choice by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the post of envoy to Moscow.

"Governor Jon Huntsman is a well-regarded seasoned diplomat," Eland told Sputnik. "His selection shows that President Trump places a high priority on improving ties with Russia."

Eland also expressed optimism that Huntsman would be smoothly confirmed for the post as he had constructively served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

"[B]ecause he is a Republican with bipartisan experience, he will probably be confirmed without a tussle. Given the current tumultuous state of affairs in US-Russian relations, such a respected, bipartisan, noncontroversial selection is smart," he added.

Huntsman has served in every US presidential administration since Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. He was a White House staff assistant for Reagan, then became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and US Ambassador to Singapore under Reagan’s Republican successor President George H.W. Bush.

Huntsman played a major role in the trade negotiations that allowed China to join the World Trade Organization at the beginning of the 21st century and was CEO of his family-owned Huntsman Corporation.

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