It seems to me that politicians in the United States are unduly worried about Russia. By this I mean that they seem hell-bent on ascribing the worst of motives to the nation. All right, they specifically demonize Vladimir Putin. Certainly the man is no saint. He is an ex-KGB officer in the Soviet government who maintains control regardless of whether or not he is in office as the president. He has ties to some shady organizations and individuals. He's corrupt. Tell me something I didn't know--Putin is essentially the same as most every politician elected to higher office. According to Frank Sinatra's daughter, JFK only won Illinois because Joe Kennedy contacted Sinatra, who contacted the mob to rig the election. That explains why Nixon was so paranoid; he had good reason to be. We also know that Barack Obama was aided by ACORN who fudged ballots and engaged in voter fraud to ensure his election. There are districts in Ohio in which Obama "won" 100% of the votes, a feat not even matched by totalitarian dictators.
We like to demonize Russia because we're used to it. It's comforting. The Soviet Union was horrible, don't get me wrong. Stalin murdered more people than Hitler. Communism displayed that it is unable to provide for a nation. We learned this lesson at Jamestown, which would have starved to death had its leaders not wisely abandoned its communal arrangement for a more practical and productive capitalistic model. John Smith learned through experience what Adam Smith would later codify, that harnessing human self-interest serves the needs of the many better than subjugating it does.
The Ukraine is another example of how we judge Russia through a faulty historical lens. I have spoken with Ukrainian immigrants, ethnic Russians, who love Putin and support the annexation. The American press have failed to investigate the failings of the current Ukrainian administration and the general dissatisfaction of the public there.
The ultra-liberal American press would likely be more supportive of Russia if it was still a communist state. They love Bernie Sanders, after all. However, Putin witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union. He knows communism doesn't work. He doesn't want a Soviet economic model, but a return to a proud place in world affairs. He is, above all, a nationalist. How can we fault him for that? Would that we were lucky enough to have a government that put the interests of American citizens above all other considerations. Why do you think Russians support Putin in such great numbers? Despite his flaws, they know where his priorities lie.
We should gladly accept Russia's help in defeating ISIS. We should be using Russia's influence in the Middle East as a gateway for ourselves. We failed miserably coming out of the Cold War. We should have invested as much care and energy in helping Russia as we did guiding Japan after World War II. Had we done so, Russia would likely be as staunch an ally as Japan is now. Instead, we squandered a unique and historic opportunity and framed a friend as an enemy.
I believe there is still a good chance to repair the damage. George W. Bush had a decent rapport with Vladimir Putin. They had their differences, but they seemed to respect and even understand each other. Obama, on the other hand, has no respect in Russia.
Of course not. Russians respect strength, and Barack Obama is a whimpering lightweight. Bush and Putin engaged in masculine rituals such as fishing. Obama looks like he would sprain his wrist opening a jar of pickles. That's a stark contrast in a world culture that grants respect on the basis of perceived power.