The relationship between the United States and Russia over the past hundred years or so would put any soap-opera romance to shame. Russia was the enemy in the 1930s, then it was an ally, then it was the enemy. When I was a kid in the ’70s, the Soviet Union was absolutely the enemy and we all expected that someday there would be war between the countries. Despite a concerned media effort to paint McCarthy, Nixon, et al as panicked morons swinging at shadows, most of us figured the Soviet Union did, in fact, regularly attempt to interfere in American affairs. (Turns out McCarthy was as right as he was wrong, maybe more so.) Sure, you had the committed leftists who were willing to take a “honeymoon” there, but they were few and far between.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia-US relations enjoyed a thaw. It didn’t last. Now the same political left that excused Stalin’s purges is clutching its pearls over Crimea, while the right-wingers who used to seriously discuss a nuclear-equipped preemptive strike against Moscow see Mr. Putin as a sort of fun-loving, horse-riding fellow who has the guts to drive an F1 car in wet conditions.
This is the sort of stark dichotomy that tends to cause trouble if left untended. Luckily, there’s something that can be done about it.
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