News - Will the friendly diplomacy between Russia and the U.S. last?

Yes. America and Russia are likely to grow still closer as old suspicions are swept away by continuing cooperation against a common enemy.

Lasting friendships between nations are founded on common interests, and there is no shortage of shared interests between Russia and the United States.

The shock and horror of Sept. 11 did not create the current warming trend. Instead, the terror attacks sped up a rapprochement that began in 1985 and accelerated with the collapse of Soviet communism.

Led by Vladimir Putin, Russia understands the attack on America as an attack on civilization itself, and it is eager to take sides against the lawless and bloodthirsty barbarians who threaten us all. Russia has tasted the bitter fruit of radical Islamic terrorism, enduring a string of 1999 bombings that leveled Moscow apartment buildings while innocents slept.

In the struggle ahead, America and Russia are likely to grow still closer as old suspicions are swept away by continuing cooperation against a common enemy.

A half-century ago, the two nations shared an enemy — and little else. When Nazism was defeated, the Grand Alliance collapsed. The Cold War that followed was not a cosmic misunderstanding, but a standoff between nations with starkly divergent interests. Soviet Russia vowed to foment worldwide communist revolution — and led by America, the West rallied to stop it.

Today, the two nations share more than an enemy. On the economic front, Russia is moving rapidly to integrate itself into the global economy, tapping its vast oil reserves as never before and opening its home market as a prelude to entering the World Trade Organization.

Under Putin, Russia has come to realize that its largest security challenges lie to the south, where it is surrounded by 290 million Muslims and 1.2 billion Chinese. Neither group is particularly fond of the U.S.

Russia and America share an interest in reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. Plans to cut current levels by two-thirds — to some 2,000 warheads per side — would preserve each nation's deterrent capacity and save billions in maintenance costs.

Moscow has little to fear from U.S. missile defense, as Putin appears to recognize. An American system aimed at stopping a limited number of missiles from rogue states would not diminish Russia's security at all.

Russia and America are also fortunate not to be burdened with any centuries-old historical animosity.

During the 1800s, in fact, Czarist Russia and the young American republic built what historian John Lewis Gaddis has called a "heritage of harmony" on a foundation of shared interests. While not assured, a future of harmony appears more likely now than perhaps any time since.

Luke Boggs has never been to Russia. But he's seen pictures.??

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