Scott McConnell makes an important point:
The dream of chaos inside Russia still animates half the people inside the Beltway. Paula Dobriansky, a big deal ambassador during the Bush administration tells an audience that Putin’s real fear is that the Maidan revolutionary spirit will spread to Moscow. That is obviously what she wants—though why anyone would seek regime disintegration in a state that possesses hundreds of nuclear missiles in not obvious.
Adam Kirsch thinks seeing Russia through a Cold War lens is “making it hard for us to assess the real dimensions of the threat—to take Putin and what he represents entirely seriously”:
What we are seeing is a weird kind of negative feedback loop: The more dangerous Russia is, the more untimely it seems, so the less dangerous it appears. The problem is that, while Putin’s government and his ideology have little to do with the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union remains our reflexive frame of reference for anything having to do with Russian geopolitics; and the Soviet Union is no longer frightening to us. Partly this is a generational issue. No one under 30 today remembers the Cold War at all; no one under 60 played any major role in waging it. What remains is the defunct iconography of Cold War pop culture: Russian villains from the Bond movies to Rocky to Boris and Natasha, which could not seem less threatening today.