The Wannabe Putin in Saudi Arabia

From a New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof headlined “The Wannabe Putin in Saudi Arabia”:

American leaders have peered into Vladimir Putin’s eyes to sense “his soul,” have praised him as “very straightforward and trustworthy” or even a “genius.” They have “reset” relations, tolerated invasions of Georgia and Crimea, averted eyes from atrocities and even gone so far as to blame “U.S. foolishness” for strains in Russia-American relations — because they wanted a steady relationship, and Putin was unmistakably in control of an important country.

But as the weekend upheavals in Russia underscored, dictators are forever, until they’re not. In retrospect, ignoring Putin’s provocations wasn’t savvy realpolitik, but naïveté.