The Cold War Never Ended: U.S.-Russian Relations Since September 11

The recent invasion of South Ossetia by the U.S.-trained and -equipped Georgian army turned into a debacle for both Tbilisi and Washington.  It also demonstrated that, for the U.S. government, the fall of the Soviet Union on December 8, 1991, did not mean the Cold War had ended.  Washington simply shifted focus to the newly independent Russian Federation and continued its Cold War policy of “containment.”  Because of Russia’s size, both geographic and demographic, and her natural resources and nuclear weapons, Washington believed that Russia had to be kept politically and economically weak through containment or she would again emerge as America’s rival and a constraint on U.S. foreign policy.  The Soviet regime had translated containment as strangulation.  Given the nature of the policies pursued by the Bush administration toward Russia over the last seven years, the latter is perhaps a more appropriate term.

The most dramatic evidence of this strategy came after September 11.  Through its declared Global War on Terror, the Bush administration used military alliances and military bases (ostensibly to fight Islamic jihadists) to surround Russia, even though Russia had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on America and was, herself, fighting an Islamic insurgency in Chechnya.

The intellectual justification for what became the Bush administration’s...

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