President Joe Biden and Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet today for the first time since Biden was elected president.
For many in the foreign policy establishment and diplomatic press corps, this is an exciting opportunity to conjure some Cold War drama. Historically, such summits were major happenings. They were premised on the idea that tensions between the two nuclear powers were so great and grave, merely talking was an accomplishment in its own right.
Conservatives and other foreign policy hawks contend that the summit is a mistake primarily because it gives Putin the prestige he craves while giving Biden nothing in return. I tend to agree. But this argument also draws on the same Cold War nostalgia.
Conservatives often opposed U.S.-Soviet summits because they were seen as part of a process of “normalization” and détente that not only lent the Soviets undeserved legitimacy but often ended with concessions that strengthened our enemy and sapped anti-communist resolve here at home.