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Blame Russia for Russian aggression

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Some denounce the United States for Russia's reversion to brutal expansionism into its “Near Abroad” because we encouraged certain Central and Eastern European countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The argument is that NATO's expansion led “Holy Russia” to fear that it was being “encircled.”

In other words, it's all our fault. If we had just kept the aforementioned victims of past Russian and Soviet expansionism out of the Western Alliance, Russia wouldn't have, for example, attacked Georgia and Ukraine.

If only everyone had looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes and decided to trust him.

Really?

Russia has had authoritarian or totalitarian expansionist regimes for hundreds of years, with only a few years' break. How could we have necessarily done anything to end this tradition for all time after the collapse of the Soviet iteration of Russian imperialism?

And should we blame Russia's closest European neighbors for trying to protect themselves from being menaced again by their gigantic and traditionally aggressive neighbor to the east?

Russia, an oriental despotism, is the author of current Russian imperialism.

Some of the Blame America rhetoric in the United States in the Ukraine crisis can be attributed to U.S. narcissism — the idea that everything that happens in the world is because of us.

With the fall of the Soviet Empire, there was wishful thinking that the Russian Empire (of which the Soviet Empire was a version with more globalist aims) would not reappear. But Russian xenophobia, autocracy, anger and aggressiveness never went away.

Other than occupying Russia, as we did Japan and Western Germany after World War II, there wasn't much we could do to make Russia overcome its worst impulses.

The empire ruled from the Kremlin is too big, too old, too culturally reactionary and too insular to be changed quickly into a peaceable and permanent democracy.

Robert Whitcomb is a former Providence Journal editorial page editor and a former International Herald Tribune finance editor.

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