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Sestanovich: The Emotionalism of Cold War Legacies

Stephen R. Sestanovich has a new interview up on the Council of Foreign Relations website that is worth a read:

It’s been said by a number of experts lately that one of the problems in the relationship is that Americans kept saying they “won” the Cold War, and Russians don’t like being seen as a loser, and they say they won the Cold War too because they realized that communism wasn’t working. Was Russian pride hurt by the view in the West that they lost the Cold War? One hears this from members of the Russian elite. And they’ve clearly convinced some people in the administration that this is the case. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a talk on October 22 at a conference of historians on détente, talking about the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “triumph” for the United States and, she added, “for many in Russia too.” There is a lot of emotionalism on this subject to this day, and it’s a difficult issue even for many Russian liberals. President Putin said the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century. He wasn’t speaking for himself alone, that is, for alumni of the KGB and for nationalists. There is still a sort of melancholy that surrounds this issue for many Russians, even those who recognize that the Soviet Union was not a viable state and its internal weakness and disorder and conflict had grown so great that it really collapsed of its own weight.