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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Aug. 19, 2008 after an emergency NATO meeting on the conflict in Georgia. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Aug. 19, 2008, after an emergency meeting on the conflict in Georgia. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

What a mess on the Russian front. Russian troops in Georgia, and the West and NATO looking weak. The U.S. and Poland inking a deal to put American missiles a hundred miles from Russia’s border — and Russians warning Poland of nuclear retaliation.

In the 1990’s, Russia seemed like the world’s pet rock. Now, it’s alive with anger, oil-wealth and — in Georgia — action. The new state of affairs seems too hot to be called cold war.

This hour, we’re talking with a top architect of U.S. Russia policy in the 90s, Strobe Talbott, plus a critic of that policy and a top voice now from Moscow on where the U.S.-Russia relationship goes next.

You can join the conversation. Did the U.S. bait post-Soviet Russia with NATO expansion to its doorstep? What’s the right formula now for dealing with a resurgent, energy-rich Russia? Are Russia and the West destined to be enemies? Combatants? If we could replay the ’90s, how might we do it differently? What’s the real U.S. leverage with Russia now, if any? Do you want to hear Russia’s complaints? Or beat it back? Can’t we all just get along? Tell us what you think.

Guests:

Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, he served as deputy secretary of state from 1994 through 2001, and for a year before that as ambassador-at-large and special adviser to the Secretary of State for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union. He’s the author of “The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation” (2008).

Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and history at New York University and author of “Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-communist Russia” (2002). He is a contributing editor of The Nation and has written recently for the magazine about “McCain, Obama, and Russia.”

More links:

In the news this morning, Poland and the U.S. have signed a missile shield deal. Anne Penketh of The Independent (UK) covers it here.

And a couple of important opinion pieces in today’s papers:

On The New York Times op-ed page, Mikhail Gorbachev says “Russia Never Wanted a War.”

On the Wall Street Journal opinion page, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says “America Must Choose Between Georgia and Russia.”

Also in today’s New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman asks “What Did We Expect?”

There’s plenty more news and opinion on this subject, of course. What are your thoughts? And what are your “must-reads” today?

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