My own feelings on this subject have always been less apocalyptic, and they still are. Russia, by any standard, is a big and important country, and it should not be surprising that its president insists on throwing its weight around from time to time. What's more, Russia has historically had almost no experience with democracy worthy of the name, and we can hardly complain if its people are thoroughly satisfied with a leader who, whatever his defects as a democrat, has brought a spectacular measure of prosperity and tranquility to the country.
In short, it sounds to me as if the United States and the other Western powers assumed that Russia after communism would quickly become an amiable partner in their political, economic and military plans for the world, and are thoroughly put out that it has refused to do so.
But the world is not, and is not about to become, such a tidy place. Russia today is no military threat to the United States, or even to its much closer neighbors, and there is no prospect that it is likely to become one. But it certainly exists, and it is little short of inevitable that it will find ways of calling attention to its existence (such as its recent resumption of patrol flights by its planes over parts of the northwestern Pacific).
In the long run, as Putin assuredly knows, the real danger to Russia is not the United States, but an increasingly powerful China, with whom it shares a 4,000-mile border. A little patience will serve the United States better than the current outrage over Russia's haughty behavior.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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