Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How we screwed it up with Russia... step by step

An offer she can't refuse
David Seaton's News Links
Normally the defeat of a country in war is first a military defeat, second a military occupation and third, through most of history, the defeated country is then pillaged and its unfortunate and impoverished inhabitants humiliated.

Let's go through that sequence again:
  1. Military defeat
  2. Military occupation
  3. Pillage
  4. Humiliate
People tend to resent steps three and four, but with steps one and two in place, there isn't much they can do about it... unless they are Arabs, of course. In the case of Russia's losing the Cold War, steps one and two were skipped and steps three and four were carried out au outrance. That, in essence, is what we are paying for now. Certainly after neglecting steps one and two, while effecting steps three and four, it was extremely imprudent to then allow oneself to become totally dependent on the defeated and resentful country's natural resources. DS

Gerhard Schröder: 'Change through Integration' - Der Spiegel
Abstract: Anyone who wishes to judge Russia fairly should first take a look at its history. The country had no democratic tradition. After centuries of czarist rule, even tyranny, a civilian government existed for the space of a few months in 1917. That was followed by 75 years of communist dictatorship, which also resulted in the oppression of Eastern European and East Germany after World War II. The period following the fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1990s still finds occasional praise in the Western media. But those who look at the issue more closely will quickly discover that alarming economic developments accompanied the decline of government power. President Putin's achievement since 1999 consists in having led Russia, following a decade of chaos, economically, as well as domestically and on the foreign stage, down a path of stability and consistency. This is especially the case because large segments of the country's economic and social policy were fundamentally reformed. These reforms have led Russia along a stable path of growth. The Russian economy has grown by between 5 and 10 percent annually since 1999. Efforts were launched to develop a constitutional state, which is still the prerequisite of democracy. No one disputes that there are deficits in Russia. Indeed, the country is only starting to develop in many areas. No one is more aware of this than the current Russian leadership. But we should also realize this: Where would the country be today if the chaos of the 1990s had spread, its ethnic and religious diversity had erupted into violent conflicts and Russia, a nuclear power, had become a "failed state" -- that is, a disintegrating, ungovernable country? None of this has happened. One could call it a stroke of luck. But it has more to do with political activity than with luck.(...) Germany is firmly anchored in a trans-Atlantic alliance, and we share a common system of values. But the interests of Europe and the United States diverge somewhat when it comes to Russian policy or "Ostpolitik." We will not achieve a reliable partnership with Russia unless we discuss these differences openly and act accordingly. The American strategy towards Russia is not in line with our European interests. The only thing that is clear is their understanding of their own future power-political and military role in the world. Great opportunities lie in a close cooperation with Russia. But we should not behave as if it is only the Russians who should be grateful to be allowed to be our partners. We are grateful for this partnership. READ IT ALL

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