I'm inclined to extend this analogy a little further when it comes to the US versus the Russians in strategic terms: it's more like chess players versus checkers players. But still, this graf is pretty priceless:
Chess players think in terms of interaction of pieces: everything on the periphery combines to control the center of the board and prepare an eventual attack against the opponent's king. The Russians simply cannot absorb the fact that America has no strategic intentions: it simply adds up the value of the individual pieces on the board. It is as stupid as that. But there is another difference: the Americans are playing chess for career and perceived advantage. Russia is playing for its life . . .
I'm not a huge fan of Spengler, but still, that last sentence really does sum it all up: for the Russians it is life and death. For us, it's just our 'checkers' and hey, 'king me version' of empire building. There really are no vital interests at stake.
And let me add, that Spengler's thesis that Russia's pending demographic collapse is behind Russian revanchism is very plausible. The decline in Russia is palpable. It is extreme. Men who are 59 die on a regular basis, women live a few years longer. The birth rate is negative. Women who have four or five abortions are routine, after all, the burden of caring for a child in modern Russia is intense. The life is, well, it ain't so grand, oil wealth notwithstanding. My former sister-in-law was given several thousand dollars for her two children. To you and I a couple of grand might not be much, but in Russia it's enough to buy a small flat. Reminds me of Augustus Caesar urging young Roman men and women to have children, lots and lots of children.
So, why not set up a chess game that adds 22 plus million Russians to your country at some point? Make sense to me.
Moreover, I can't argue with this logic:
The place to avert tragedy is in Ukraine. Russia will not permit Ukraine to drift to the West. Whether a country that never had an independent national existence prior to the collapse of communism should become the poster-child for national self-determination is a different question. The West has two choices: draw a line in the sand around Ukraine, or trade it to the Russians for something more important.
And that would be Iran, proliferation itself and possible craziness coming out of Pakistan.
One thing I would love for Spengler to elaborate on more is how the conflict in Georgia has hurt Israeli interests. I don't necessarily disagree, I just want to know how he comes to that conclusion. I have my ideas but I'd prefer to hear his first.