The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and, implicitly, between Russia and the West, which stands behind Ukraine, seems to indicate that the West and Russia are absolutely opposite in all perspectives. Still, a closer look at events indicate that Russia is merely imitating Western, especially American, practices. This suggests that the Russian venture in Ukraine could end in the same way as US misadventures in the Middle East.
US military missions in the Middle East – Iraq twice and Afghanistan – have been justified in many ways. The ideology of the “neocons”, the neoconservatives, has been paramount. Its tribunes believed that the US was unmatched in its power and that this should remove any restraint in the country’s foreign policy. Historian Michael Ledeen argued that the US should ignore international law and define its power by sheer force. "Every now and again, the United States has to pick up a crappy little country and throw it against a wall just to prove we are serious,” Leeden is reported to have said.
Robert Kagan, husband of Victoria Nuland, the current US under secretary of state for political affairs, has made the same point. In an article that he turned into a book Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, published in 2003, prior to the US invasion of Iraq, he caused a stir in the policy community by asserting that "Americans are from Mars and Europe is from Venus." Europeans, he argued, were like the naïve Roman goddess of love, clinging to their belief in international and similar trifles, while the US was like the god of war, who understands that it is not laws but brutal force that decides the course of history.
Indeed, in the past, some neocons have advocated “preventive” nuclear war. A Foreign Affairs article published in 2006 asserted that, with the Russian nuclear arsenal degraded and China’s so miniscule, “for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy.” The authors observed that “it will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike.” Such a move would not only remove the US’s major rivals for unchallenged global dominance but it would also promote democracy in the world. Appeals to democratic values or humanitarian principles – say, to save Kosovo’s Muslims from mistreatment by Serbia – gave American use of “shock and awe” force the fig leaf of respectability, even nobility.