We think we understand the Russians. They have ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons. What else do we need to know?
An entire generation of Russians has come of age since the collapse of the Communist state. Russia has a consumer driven economy. Their tastes in fashions and style mirror our own. Blue jeans, athletic shoes, tee shirts, tattoos, body piercings are commonplace. Were it not for the signage in the Cyrillic alphabet of the Russian language, one would think we are looking at an American, Australian or Western European street scene.
The Russian Orthodox Church is experiencing a revival after decades of oppression by the atheists of the Soviet era. Liturgical chant, icons, and faith itself resonate within the Russian soul. When the Nazis sought to destroy Russia during The Great Patriotic War (WW II), the Communists, stopped the oppression temporarily. The Russian Orthodox Church is Russia.
We have a very superficial understanding of Russia. Let’s not be naïve. They have nukes and territorial ambitions. They are desirous of expanding Western Europe’s dependence on their natural gas. But perpetual suspicion is as bad a perspective as sentimental naïveté. It leads us to be manipulated by politicians with self-serving motives. Who I mean by this are the current and recent past leaders of the Democratic Party and their media allies. The Republicans have their own version of suspicion; don’t think I’m letting them off the hook.
It is very tempting to revive the Cold War for domestic political purposes. We can’t allow ourselves to be manipulated by the politicians.