Henry Kissinger (America's Secretary of State under President Nixon) and George Schultz (Secretary of State under President Reagan) argue in a lengthy piece for The Washington Post that in spite of recent disagreements over Georgia, their interests are not irreconcilable, and agreement based on common ground is possible:
"America has an important stake in the territorial integrity of an independent Georgia but not in a confrontational diplomacy toward Russia by its neighbors. Russia needs to understand that the use or threat of military force evokes memories that reinforce the very obstacles to cooperative relations that are the basis of its grievances. America must decide whether to deal with Russia as a possible strategic partner or as a threat to be combated by principles drawn from the Cold War. Of course, should Russia pursue the policies its detractors assign to it, America must resist with all appropriate measures. Those of us who had responsibilities in conducting the Cold War would take the lead in supporting such a strategy.
"We are not yet at this point. Russia's leaders undoubtedly deplore the dissolution of the Russian and Soviet empire. But if they have any realism -- and in our experience they do -- they know that it is impossible and dangerous to seek to reverse Russia's history by military means.
"Russian history displays a tale of ambivalent oscillation between the restraints of the European order and the temptations for expansion into the strategic vacuums along its borders in Asia and the Middle East. These vacuums no longer exist. In the west, NATO is a formidable strategic presence. In the east, there is a resurgent Asia, to which the center of gravity of world affairs is shifting. In the south, Russia faces a partly radicalized Islam along a lengthy border. Internally, demographic prospects are for decline in the total population and a relative rise in the percentage of its Muslim portion, which is partly disaffected. Russia has not been able to address its infrastructure and health deficit adequately. With a gross domestic product less than one-sixth that of the United States (in purchasing power parity terms) and a defense budget significantly smaller than those of the European Union and the United States, Russia is not well placed to conduct a superpower struggle. Whatever their rhetoric, Russian leaders know this.
"What they have sought, sometimes clumsily, is acceptance as equals in a new international system rather than as losers of a Cold War to whom terms could be dictated."