What is it about Russia that winds everyone up so much? Why all the anger, the endless barrage of alarmist rhetoric and ruthless drive to isolate a great power with a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons?
From left to right, hyperventilating pundits and politicians warn that the Bear is on the prowl and that Vladimir Putin is the saboteur of American democracy. As a result, they have spread exaggerations about the Russian threat, which have fuelled hatred and sowed misunderstanding.
I am no Putin apologist. The thuggish Russian leader commands near-absolute political dominance at home. Nor do I defend the Russian-backed rebels who badly mishandled the MH17 Ukraine plane-crash controversy in 2014.
My point is that there is nothing peculiar or pathological in Russia's behaviour: it is protecting legitimate security interests in the Baltics and the Middle East and its objectives are limited. Any Western politician or propagandist who claims otherwise is either ignorant or suffering from Russiaphobia.
What about the charges of Moscow's interference in America's presidential election?
This article continues at [Sidney Morning Herald] Russia isn't the bad guy you've been led to believe it is