The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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Reacting to Russia Stand Up or Sit Down

Putin believes that the West is decadent, weak and divided. The West needs to prove him wrong.

Published on March 7, 2014
Le recueillement est fini, as Prince Alexander Gorchakov would have said. The Prince was Russia’s foreign minister in the aftermath of the Crimean war (the 1853-56 one, not the current one). He famously quipped that Russia, soundly defeated in that bloody conflict by a coalition of Western powers, would forego sulking and engage in introspection and self-contemplation (“La Russie ne boude pas, mais se recueille”). The self-examination eventually would entail domestic reforms and military modernization, all pursued with an eye to a renewed competition with the other great powers. Once ready, Russia would then reengage in a more direct strategic...