Peaceful Coexistence

Given the furor over Vladimir Putin’s irredentist claims to Crimea, Novorossiya, Narva, et al, there has been a great deal of rumbling¬† about “a return to the Cold War” and a great deal of inflammatory language by Western politicians (Obama, McCain) who should know better. This represents an abject failure of diplomacy and a complete misunderstanding of how to deal with the Russian bear. Perhaps a view from 1976 will clear up the matter. We simply have to substitute the world “Soviet” for “Russian.”

The Meanings of ‘Peaceful Coexistence’
IT IS SAID, correctly, that the Soviet perception of “peaceful coexistence” is not the same as ours, that Soviet policies aim at the furthering of Soviet objectives. In a world of nuclear weapons capable of destroying mankind, in a century which has seen resort to brutal force on an unprecedented scale and intensity, in an age of ideology which turns the domestic policies of nations into issues of international contention, the problem of peace takes on a profound moral and practical difficulty. But the issue, surely, is not whether peace and stability serve Soviet purposes, but whether they also serve our own. Constructive actions in Soviet policy are desirable whatever the Soviet motives. [From an address by the U. S. Secretary of State].

Source: Kissinger, Henry A. “The Meanings of ‘Peaceful Coexistence.'” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 35, no. 1 (January 1976): 8. Accessed
March 21, 2014.