Several of my past posts have mentioned a March 2013 article in which the highly respected Russian international relations expert Fyodor Lukyanov explained why his government is convinced that the US is engaged in “strategic insanity.”* While a recent article co-authored by my colleague and former Director of Los Alamos Dr. Siegfried Hecker doesn’t accuse our government of yet more strategic insanity, the situation he describes comes close to meeting that definition:
Now, the crisis in Ukraine has not only put nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia on the back burner, but Washington appears to be erecting its own roadblocks that threaten to irreparably damage such cooperation. The House Armed Services Committee recently approved legislation that would put nuclear security cooperation with Russia on hold. While the White House has opposed the committee’s efforts to limit cooperation, the Energy Department has issued its own restrictions on scientific interchanges as part of the US sanctions regime against Russia.
It is clearly in Moscow and Washington’s common interest to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and global nuclear terrorism. … [But] Now, Washington appears willing to sacrifice nuclear cooperation in the short term in order to sanction Russia for its actions in Ukraine. But Washington does not have to choose between the two. It should be able to pressure Moscow on Ukraine, while still cooperating on nuclear issues.
* Here is an excerpt from Lukyanov’s article (emphasis added):
The conclusions drawn by Putin from the situation surrounding Iraq were [that] … the strong do what they want: they don’t contemplate international law, global reality or the costs incurred by themselves and others. The only rational way of behaving in such a world is to increase one’s own power and capabilities, so that one can fight back and exert pressure, if necessary. …
In the 10 years since the Iraq war, Putin’s worldview has only strengthened and expanded. Now he believes that the strong not only do what they want, but also fail to understand what they do. … Everything that’s happened since — including flirting with Islamists during the Arab Spring, U.S. policies in Libya and its current policies in Syria — serve as evidence of strategic insanity that has taken over the last remaining superpower.
… Moscow is certain that if continued crushing of secular authoritarian regimes is allowed because America and the West support “democracy,” it will lead to such destabilization that will overwhelm all, including Russia.