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Why didn’t we move NATO bases eastward a decade ago?

Looking back over the past quarter-century, it isn’t easy to name a Western policy that can truly be described as a success.

The impact of Western development aid is debatable.

In 1991, Russia was no longer a great power in either population or economic terms.

So why didn’t we recognize reality, reform the United Nations and give a Security Council seat to India, Japan or others?

For the past decade, this kleptocratic clique has also sought to re-create an empire, using everything from cyberattacks on Estonia to military invasions of Georgia and now Ukraine, in open violation of that 1994 agreement — exactly as the Central Europeans feared.

Once we remember what actually happened over the past two decades, as opposed to accepting the Russian regime’s version, our own mistakes look different.

During this period, Russia, unlike Central Europe, never sought to transform itself along European lines.

Instead, former KGB officers with a clearly expressed allegiance to the Soviet system took over the state in league with organized crime, seeking to prevent the formation of democratic institutions at home and to undermine them abroad.

Russia did not transform itself along European lines. Eventually, our use of the word “democracy” to describe the Russian political system discredited the word in Russia itself.

The crisis in Ukraine, and the prospect of a further crisis in NATO itself, is not the result of our triumphalism but of our failure to react to Russia’s aggressive rhetoric and its military spending.

Before joining NATO, each country had to establish civilian control of its army.