Russian President Vladimir Putin has a long-festering grudge: He deeply resents the West for winning the Cold War. He blames the United States in particular for the collapse of his beloved Soviet Union, an event he has called the “worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”
I have, ever since the post-Reagan triumphalism about the “defeat” of the USSR, been uneasy about thinking about that event as a smashing victory.
Just as I am uneasy about Barack Obama’s similar triumphalism about the “defeat” of Muslim terrorism due to the execution of Osama bin Laden.
We defeated Japan and Germany at the end of WWII, and accepted their unconditional surrender. But our “defeat” of the USSR, while a setback, still left Russia ass a nation with significant technological and military assets, and the ability to strike CONUS with nuclear weaponry. A defeated enemy cannot harm you. An enemy that has suffered a setback but still remains existentially dangerous most certainly can – and pretending you have “defeated” that enemy is a suicidally dangerous self-delusion.
The Obama administration and his flacks and hacks write off militant Islam, Iran, Russia, and China as unable to threaten us, inconsequential, not worth the bother to stand against.
I think we will come to strongly regret that approach, just as I now strongly regret thinking about Russia has having been defeated.