It bears repeating that we should have diplomatic contact with every country with which we have interests, and the “liking or disliking” a given country is juvenile and pointless.
Russia in its dealings with other Western nations has been fairly consistent through Czarist, Soviet and present times. They have historically feared invasion, because they have been invaded so many times. Most recently by Germany, but prior to that, France, Turkey, Poland, Sweden and more, had a go at Russia, and lost. Soviet Military Doctrine had as received wisdom until 1988, that the West would attack them, they let go each opportunity to attack the West themselves. Finally they realized that NATO’s de facto mission was to keep Europeans from fighting each other, and that an alliance of over a dozen countries couldn’t actually organize a sneak attack.
Generally the Russians have not started grandiose wars of conquest as have others: Ukraine and
Central Asia not withstanding. They have aggrandized territory, and bullied neighbors but cautiously without great risk. Their troops have gone home after their wars. They have in turn occupied Paris after defeating Napoleon and
Berlin after defeating Hitler, and have left. Though they stayed 40 years in Germany and took a chunk of East Prussia, they did leave without warfare, and they didn’t start the war that ended with their possession of
Speaking of Berlin, we should remember the Soviet/Russian state that conquered
Berlin in April 1945, had in March 1918 signed a humiliating peace treaty after abject defeat and collapse. The country went completely to pieces, with civil war, starvation, territorial transgressions by foreign army’s (ours included), and yet, 27 years later not only defeated but destroyed the state that had most tormented it.
We’ve lost ten solid years when we should have treated
Russia with due dignity and respect, and built credibility. We should have shown our goodwill toward Russia by acknowledging in the midst of their terrible times in the 90’s, that our two countries could reach a useful understanding, with an eye toward
Russia strength over time, rather than a 1995 snapshot. We should have made it clear that we recognized that Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and
Kazakhstan were in their bailiwick. Treating
Russia with greater respect while they were temporarily in difficulties would have served our interests in the long run, and would have been of great use right now.
What we can do now is to not oppose Russia’s internal reorganization and their dealings with Ukraine, Belorussia and
Kazakhstan. Let’s face it, should
Russia decide to reacquire any of these bordering states they view as integral, we won’t really go to war over it, so there is no point in interfering there. Sanctimonious moralizing is poor statecraft, so too is robbing them when they are only temporarily weak.
China can be usefully contained by a ring of nations: Russia in the north and west, India in the south, Japan, Taiwan and Korea in the east, and the
U.S. generally, as I began describing in previous essays. There is a lengthy list of reasons why Russia and
America have more to gain than to lose by cooperation, our strengths are complementary.
Why o why do we have such an inept and venal government. When, I think of our government, its manifold failures and missed opportunities, I sometimes recall the book ‘March of Folly’ by Barbara Tuchman, especially the piece about the Catholic Church and its last six Popes prior to the Reformation. It took a series of unparalleled catastrophes before the church righted itself, never regaining all that had been lost, both tangible and intangible. And all that through an avoidable and willful disregard of their duty, and their own self interest.
It is impossibility that
America can regain its post 1945 preeminence without another colossal victory. Our position after the war wasn’t so much elevated as the other great nations were laid low. Those glory days are gone. Let’s live in the real world. We likely will need a new government for that to happen.