It was President Reagan who proposed and implemented the “trust but verify” doctrine as a guidepost for U.S. dealings with the then Soviet Union. For all the screams from the left accusing Reagan of being a warmonger, no war broke out. Instead, not many years later the Berlin Wall came down as the Soviet Union was no more. Hopes for a “peace dividend” were high as the world hoped that the specter of nuclear war had been reduced dramatically.
And it has largely worked out. Tensions between Russia and the U.S. have been reduced, and no one has fired a nuclear weapon at anyone else, in spite of some nations joining the “nuclear club.” Relations with Russia warmed, at least for a time, and there was even speculation as to whether NATO was even necessary anymore.
Yet old hostilities and suspicions die hard. And the U.S., as well as Russia, remain heavily armed with thousands of nuclear weapons. The Neocon influence in Washington argues strongly for a powerful commitment to NATO by the U.S., and for American hegemony throughout the world. It's a dangerous idea, and one at which Russia recoils. In fact, its foreign minister is calling for a move away from a world order centered on one nation, and for a multi-polar world order.
There are those in Washington for whom such an idea is anathema. More on where this might go on page two.