Dealing With Russia Under Putin
Re “Confronting Putin’s Russia,” by Michael A. McFaul (Op-Ed, March 24):
Last century’s conflicts were not all “ideologically rooted”; offenses to dignity played a part. The imposition of humiliating conditions on Germany after World War I led to the rise of a “revisionist autocratic leader” who promised to restore the country’s stature.
Likewise, the humiliations imposed on Russia after the Cold War — the economic shock therapy that impoverished many Russians, the expansion of NATO, the disregard of Russian views on Kosovo and Iraq — led to the rise of Vladimir V. Putin. The problem is not that “we did not fully win the Cold War,” but that we were not gracious victors.
Our moralistic lecturing of Russia on respecting “international laws and norms” that we violate when it suits us has added insult to injury. Declaring that our national interests trump the rules, while Russia’s do not, amounts to a put-down.
Unrestrained flaunting of American power reminds Russians of their Cold War loss and fuels Mr. Putin’s support.