Russia will be an experienced player in the game of nations, whose former traditions were by no means entirely lost in the seventy years or so of the Soviet period, and still very much the largest of the European powers in population and resources. For geographic reasons, it long seemed likely that if push should come to shove in the Gulf, the Russians would always be able to "get there fastest with the mostest," rather than the Americans. A cynical old NATO joke maintains that the organization was put together to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. Actually, the circumstances of 1922 and 1990 do have two or three factors in common: Russia needing a lot economically, Germany needing something strategically, and Eastern Europe being a morass of uncertainties. Yet the balance of forces has so far changed much less than the balance of power, which seems rather a reversal of the usual historical sequence.