Today's article from Friedman is insightful in highlighting how US foreign policy along with NATO expansion created an important backdrop to the current situation in Russia. Fair point. Making Russians feel isolated, humiliated and, um, like losers of the Cold War was probably a bad idea. I remember the debates we had in high school about the nascent NATO expansion. I don't even remember what I actually believed in - as a true debater, probably nothing and both. But the argument that the expansion of NATO would reaffirm the dual-power vision of the world that the end of Cold War was hoped to bring to an end was definitely out there. Well, I guess now we know - or so Friedman believes.
I am very conflicted, however, if identifying the cause tell us anything about the potential cure. Can we reverse engineer ourselves out of this? I am entirely confused by what he suggests: "we would be wise to reconsider where our NATO/Russia policy is taking us — and whether we really want to spend the 21st century containing Russia the same way we spent much of the 20th containing the Soviet Union." Reconsider, sure.. I just don't how helpful recognizing the mistakes made since 1989 can be in solving the problems in Russia of 2008.
On an entirely different note, close to home, after seeing enough footage from the Saturday night interviews at the Saddleback forum I was able to fully appreciate Hendrik Hertzberg's blog entry about the convos. I agree with his assessment that McCain came out on top. Watching snippets of the 2 side by side it was obvious which one the average citizen can connect more with. But ultimately I don't think it changed much for either candidate, which I perceive as a greater loss for Obama. He had more to gain and he didn't.