There is nothing so dangerous as a former superpower unaware of its own diminished role. What the Kremlin of Vladimir Putin today lacks in ideology, it more than makes up for in invidious posturing. Daily there is some fresh exhibition of paranoia, sham moral equivalence, or hyper-sensitivity to criticism—real or perceived—and all usually directed against the United States. Consider the reaction to the recent passage of the Magnitsky Act in Congress, which imposes asset freezes and travel bans on those responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of human rights” against individuals seeking to exercise basic freedoms or expose the criminality of the Russian government. More and more Russians support this law because they see it as a necessary foreign corrective on the domestic absence of the rule of law, and because it hits even low-level state functionaries where they hurt the most—in their ability to spend or invest ill-gotten gains abroad. And so the Putinists are predictably incensed and have become predictably absurd. They have compared a murdered whistle-blowing attorney to a convicted global arms dealer. They have expelled State Department-linked aid organizations that finance domestic NGOs that tell the truth about Russia. And now they have proposed a total, xenophobic prohibition on Americans adopting orphaned Russian children, which apparently violates the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (Russia is a party to both). If these measures seem ludicrously disproportionate to Western observers, they are viewed as legitimate tit-for-tat retaliations by their architects who further bridle at not being taken seriously.