Tragedy of the victor: America and the end of the Soviet Union,

Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

President Vladimir Putin has described the fall of the Soviet Union, which came to a formal end 30 years ago, on December 26, 1991, as a geopolitical tragedy; and it is easy to understand why he and many other Russians would see it as such. In a deeper, more classical sense, however, it may be said that the true tragedy of the end of the Cold War was that of the apparent victor, the United States.

The last acts of this tragedy are still to be written. We can hope that it will end with the relative reconciliation and harmony of Coriolanus, and not the nihilistic horror of Titus Andronicus. The New Year, when (ideally) people consider the past in order to commit themselves to do better in future, is a good time to think about the meaning of this tragedy. […]

American victory was complete; too complete. In terms of foreign policy, it bred in America the atmosphere that produced the phrase, that to my horror I heard repeated by Democratic and Republican analysts alike, that “of course, today America is so powerful that it can achieve anything it wants in the world, if it only has the will.” This mood produced the so-called “Wolfowitz Doctrine” summed up in the Defense Planning Guidance memo of 1992, that advocated in effect the extension to the entire planet of Theodore Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which had stated that the United States had the right not only to exclude foreign powers from Central America but to intervene there by force to create better governments. Läs artikel