I’ve just been reminded of why I don’t read Anne Applebaum’s columns. Consider the opening paragraph of her most recent:
There have been high moments: Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, locked in a bear hug; George W. Bush looking into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and seeing “a sense of his soul”; Hillary Clinton pressing the “reset button.” There have been some very low moments, too. But for more than 20 years of Russian independence, a single narrative about Russia in the West has nevertheless prevailed.
I must be out of step. I consider those low moments, epitomizing the worst features of the relationship between the United States and Russia—cult of personality, ignorance, and arrogance on our part.
Openly or subconsciously, since 1991, Western leaders have acted on the assumption that Russia is a flawed Western country.
really the animating principle of the last twenty years of relations between our two countries? I certainly don’t see it that way. I think I see it more as treating Russia as a vanquished foe, now irrelevant on the world stage. The first part is true but imprudent. The second is, well, premature. Russia will always be a regional superpower and will be a world power as long as it maintains a nuclear arsenal as large or larger than ours.