...One merely needs to learn to decipher the nuances and jargon-laden phraseology of IR-speak. That is, American geostrategists and commentators do employ language, the manifest implication of which is that Russia is inveterately imperialistic, and that, in order to forestall the complications this creates for American foreign policy, Russia should be reduced to a state of dependency. Few utter such sentiments so baldly, of course, but the underlying inspiration of what they do say is identical. Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote, somewhat infamously, that, the United States having emerged from the Cold War in possession of an historically unprecedented, multifaceted degree of global hegemony, and Eurasia being a sort of global heartland, the one supra-region that must be the field for the effective exercise of that hegemony, "...the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." In other words, we need a lengthy retinue of client states and protectorates, who must be whipped into shape, in order that the emergence of any potential geopolitical threat or counterbalance might be precluded, and our hegemony thus guaranteed. That term in the argument is presupposed; it is axiomatic, and never expressly defended: we shall perpetuate the imperium, and these are the conditions of imperial flourishing.
Brzezinski subsequently treats his readers to a lengthy disquisition on Russian imperial history and the transformations that will be necessary if Russia is to be integrated into a post-great-power, global democratic order, the cash-value of which is that Russia must ultimately be integrated into Europe. Sounds reasonable, no? Except that the Europe to which he refers is the EU, clearly envisioned as a key structural element of a transnational European order, defined by the political and military institutions of Brussels, the European Union and NATO. Still sounds reasonable, I suppose, until it is recalled that American geostrategy has promoted these institutions under the assumption that they further the American "interest" in an integrated global order - Bacevich terms it the strategy of openness - guided by American power, hard and soft, and that, moreover, these institutions function effectively in inverse proportion to the salience of the particular historical, cultural, and political identities of the constituent states. The "dilemma of the one alternative" that the West proposes to Russia is essentially an ultimatum; geopolitical options are to be constrained over time, such that the Russians eventually accede to their absorption by transnational institutions and architectures, and become a fully postmodern state (post-state, in actuality): a contingent, transient node in a system of international political economy.
ZBig's counsels have not, of course, been observed down to the letter; he imagined a somewhat less confrontational approach to Russia in the post-Cold War epoch, but nonetheless counseled a firm disciplinary approach of the removal of strategic options. The endgames remained the same.
Why would the Russians desire such a role - an openly subservient role? Why, for that matter, would conservatives, of all people, tacitly condone the transnationalist ethics and geopolitics of their implacable adversaries? To satisfy an old grudge?
To descend from the empyrean heights of High Geopolitical Theory to the realm of proposed American countermoves in the wake of the Russian-Georgian conflict, it should be observed that some erudite conservatives are expressly advocating the overt "containment" of Russia, which entails, because Russia is not, on any objective analysis, a revanchist power, the gradual paring away of her spheres of influence. For what reasons should this policy be regarded as exigent? Essentially, for reason of America's victory in the Cold War:
Defending the standards of Europe’s long peace, preserving the strategic outcomes of the Cold War, and upholding the credibility of the institutional guarantor of that peace and the winner of that war: these are things worth acting for — and yes, worth fighting for.
America, on this conception, having triumphed in the Cold War, is now entitled to dictate terms, albeit the Russians refuse to acknowledge that they have been conquered, and our hegemony is once more presupposed, but never defended as such, either as a geopolitical necessity or, what is most important, as an ethical imperative. Rather, we are the hegemon, and the Russians must learn their place. Even our credibility, which is to state, our reputation, and the renown of our erstwhile triumph, are sufficient justifications for fighting. All your country are belong to us, I suppose: victor's justice, given a geopolitical inflection.