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Russia's New Blame Game

Putin faults America for internal economic woes, external distress.

1:19 PM, Mar 2, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Over at Heritage, Ariel Cohen and Helle Dale dive into anti-Americanism in Russia. Apparently it's reaching Cold War levels, with no shortage of government encouragement.

On the Russian domestic front, the United States as "the enemy" is used as a scapegoat for unsuccessful policies and to lend legitimacy to Putin's leadership. For example, the Kremlin has blamed the current economic crisis, which has hit Russia harder than many other countries, on perfidious American policies. Likewise, in foreign policy, anti-Americanism is used to unite countries against the common enemy and to promote a multipolar world vision in which Russia, China, India, and authoritarian states, such as Iran and Venezuela, would check U.S. influence.

This strikes me as potentially volatile. Putin is ressurecting the concept of Russian imperialism, coupled with virulent anti-Americanism. States which allow illusions of destiny to guide their foreign policy tend to violently expand their borders (just ask the Georgians). So what happens when Putin's delusions of grandeur bump up against a key U.S. ally? It could be devastating.

The Obama administration must ditch "reset." After nearly two decades of unsuccessfully trying to bring Moscow to the grown up's table, it's time we acknowledge that we don't share values and we don't share a common world outlook. Russia would rather be a leader of misfit nations than a follower of parlimentary process. Negotiations with Moscow should be guided by prudence and pragmatism, with the understanding that we'll never have a U.S.-British style relationship with them. While do have to work with Russia to achieve common goals, we don't have to be pals while we do it.

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