A question that has been raised repeatedly, both explicitly and implicitly, since Russia’s invasion of Georgia is the degree to which Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev are rational actors.  Surely, many argue, it makes no sense for Russia to risk isolating itself from the West to make a point?

   Especially when that point has to do with the limits of the expansion of NATO, which Western observers insist is a benign club that obviously means Russia no harm.

In “Russia a Rational Actor?  Da!Christopher Harness, a visiting fellow at the Council, argues that Russian interests are starkly different from the West and their leaders are willing to risk short-term economic fallout to stop NATO expansion and reassert themselves as a great power.

In, “Russia a Rational Actor?  Nyet!Robert Manning, an Atlantic Council senior advisor, makes the negative case, arguing that Russian actions are driven by emotion rather than logic and represent a serious miscalculation of risk and rewards.

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.

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