Ken Adelman seems to think he is making an insightful observation here:

Reagan was facing a far stronger adversary than President Obama faces now with Mr. Putin. Russia’s army today is one-fourth the size of the Soviet army in the 1980s, and its nuclear arsenal about one-fifth as big. Russia’s economy today is about the size of Italy’s, and the Putin regime, while stoking nationalism at home, lacks an ideology like Marxism that might appeal to intellectuals and tyrants abroad. President Putin is working without a net.

Yet the current American agenda is not remotely as ambitious as ending the Cold War [bold mine-DL].

No, it isn’t, but then why would it be? If Russia is so much weaker than the USSR, and it is, U.S. policy towards Russia doesn’t need to be ambitious, because there is much less at stake and the threat has become much less worrisome. The “we win, they lose” framing made a certain amount of sense when the Cold War was going on, but once it was over and “we” had “won” this immediately became an outdated and irrelevant way to think about U.S. Russia policy. It is telling that Adelman doesn’t recognize this. After all, what exactly would the U.S. be “winning” if Russia lost? What could this formulation possibly mean except the further humiliation of Russia after it had already suffered a huge loss of power and prestige?

There is no need for a major initiative to force Russia to bankrupt itself with an arms race, and likewise no particular need to engage in a major propaganda campaign aimed at delegitimizing Putinism. As Adelman admits earlier on, Putinism has few admirers outside Russia and it has virtually no influence on the politics of any country except Russia. Why would we need to wage a “war of ideas” against an idea with extremely limited appeal? Adelman’s argument is the worst in anachronistic Reagan nostalgia: despite the extraordinary political changes over the last thirty years that have rendered Reagan-era policies irrelevant, he expects U.S. policy towards Russia should closely imitate the Soviet policy of Reagan’s time. Bizarrely, this diminishes the significance of the Cold War’s conclusion–and Reagan’s role in it–by insisting on a Russia policy that is just as confrontational and ideological as the one that prevailed during the Cold War.

Perpetuating the mythology of Reykjavik is part of the standard Reagan nostalgia program. Even though it undermined the cause of arms reduction and significantly delayed progress towards the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons that Reagan claimed to want, Reagan’s”grit” at Reykjavik has become a legend on the right that is supposed to show the virtue of spurning negotiated deals with hostile regimes. The truth is that Reagan gave up on the possibility of a major arms control agreement then and there to hold fast to a fantasy technology. It was one of Reagan’s more notable mistakes as president, but fortunately one that didn’t have more serious consequences.