Russia and the United States on the world stage. Part II. The ideological and geopolitical path to enduring rivalry
The late 19th and early 20th centuries set the framework for a US-Russian rivalry, grounded in diverging principles and clashing geopolitical ambitions. The rivalry arose as a consequence of American dynamism, confidence, and self-regard, which propelled the country from the confines of the Western Hemisphere overseas into East Asia and Europe and nourished aspirations to propagate its way of life and institutions abroad as a foundation for American prosperity, security, and continued success. Russia, by contrast, remained much as it had been in domestic structure and geopolitical endeavor, despite internal stresses and shifting coalitions with European great powers. Its foreign policy was driven by a sense of vulnerability and the need to keep up with its rivals not by a grand mission. It would have preferred to retain cordial relations with the United States. But it had no choice but to resist as the United States pushed into regions it considered of vital interest and stepped up criticism of its domestic affairs. Geography, climate, and geopolitics conspired to embed a profound sense of vulnerability and insecurity in the Russian psyche, while it stimulated America’s rise as a great power. If Russia expanded out of necessity in an unending search for security, America did so out of ambition to fulfill its destiny. American ideological activism and geopolitical ambition ultimately shattered the fragile framework of comity that had existed since 1775.
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