Russian Exceptionalism

I know I am a few days behind in posting about this, but Gregory Feifer’s latest column in Politico on the repeated failure on behalf of the West to grasp the internal logic of Vladimir Putin’s Russia is well worth a read.  An excerpt:

“He [Putin] makes decisions not in his country’s interest, but his own. Destabilizing Russia’s neighbors, picking fights with Washington and threatening to direct nuclear missiles at Western Europe may be dreadful for Russia’s image and prospects for integration into the international community, but at home, it shows Putin to be tough.

That’s why it’s important for the White House to stop dismissing Putin—in public at least—as simply a bored schoolkid at the back of the classroom, as President Barack Obama did again during his NBC interview before the Sochi opening ceremony. There’s too much at stake.

Deeply regrettable as Nuland’s amateurishness is, America’s top officials must do more than simply be careful about boorish talk on cellphones. As long as Putin believes he’s winning a new kind of Cold War, the Obama administration should stop hoping his professed desire to cooperate will make the problem go away. Tackling it should start by understanding his real motives.

It seems there are many international issues that the administration’s strategy amounts to sticking its head in the sand.  That will not work out well with regards to Russia.