When Americans gloated about winning the Cold War, they opened a door for Russians’ resentment — and Putin’s tactics.
One of the tactics of the Cold War was information manipulation. Much like other aspects, its survived the fall of the Soviet Union, except now, in the age of information, it is used in a larger capacity.
Over the past decade, this narrative of defeat and humiliation has become a stalwart of Mr. Putin’s ideology of resurgence. If America won the Cold War, it must be responsible for the Soviet breakup and the impoverishment of millions of Russians. And if Russia was defeated, it could only be expected to one day seek revenge.
The U.S.had the opportunity, after the immediate perceived end of the Cold War, to create a positive narrative for the former USSR. However, while crime and corruption ran rampant, it didn’t really do anything, giving way for the problems that culminated into modern issues. The U.S. only won half of the Cold War; it failed in the part that counted, ideological and economic reconstruction and development.
Every time Russia attacks a former Soviet republic, the confrontation is portrayed as a proxy war started by America against Russia.
With problems regarding Ukraine today and Georgia in 2008, it may help the U.S. to actually act more strictly against Russia. If the narrative that Russia sets is that it is reacting to the U.S. then the U.S. has to make clear that it does not control Russia’s actions against other nations. Westernization is not a reason for infringing upon another nation’s sovereignty. That is against international law, and each country chooses by itself, through its people, whether it wants to Westernize.
Sanctions won’t change Mr. Putin’s behavior: He rates the security of his regime far above the economic good of the country.
U.S. officials must understand this especially since they knew that Medvedev was just a prop used by Putin.
If they do understand this, then it begs the question, why have sanctions in the first place if you know it won’t matter?
Is it just a modern form of appeasement that is supposed to make the world believe it is actually doing something when in reality it isn’t?
Just as the economic inadequacies of Soviet Communism were exposed by comparison with the wealth produced by Western capitalism, Mr. Putin’s authoritarianism cannot match the appeal of an economy based on the rule of law, openness and competition. The best way for the West to resist Russia, now as then, is to uphold its own values.
The sanctions could just be the West’s means to Russia’s end (ideologically speaking). A tactic that ensures people turn against Putin’s authoritarianism and toward a Western ideology and economy, especially since the sanction hurt the people and not Putin.