The first rule an aspiring diplomat must learn is: Know who your most dangerous opponent can be and make sure you maintain the best possible relations with him.
Or as Sun Tzu wrote: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Ever since the end of the Cold War, U.S. policies ignored this absolutely basic rule.
This rule was last practiced in the U.S. by Nixon/Kissinger in their opening to China. Despite the minor disputes, this policy brought great benefit to both countries.
Had the U.S. practiced this policy toward Cuba and North Korea, I am quite sure, these countries would have no longer been Communist.
When it comes to the only country capable of destroying the U.S., the Clinton and last Bush administrations have done everything possible to antagonize Russia. Two major actions stand out, which don’t bring even an excuse of benefit to the U.S. but antagonize Russia.
1.) Helping to install and support an American puppet regime in Georgia.
2.) Proposing to install anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe.
In the first case, the regime in Georgia turned out to be an irresponsible, thuggish one, which started a war.
The second was simply a threatening gesture similar to placing a gun at your neighbor’s temple. At least on this one, Obama has acted with prudence by scrapping the project. This might even be seem by Russia as a friendly gesture.