Saturday, May 19, 2007

Russia: things we did that we ought not to have done

David Seaton's News Links
Alongside the Iraq debacle, America's greatest strategic error since WWII has been its handling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its naked exploitation of Russia's weakness in the 1990s, which Russians view (correctly, in my opinion) as kicking them when they were down.

Ironically at the same time that the US and its allies were doing everything they could to create a revanchist minded Russia, Europe became dependent on Russian energy. That is the basic contradiction and all the talk about "shared values" is so much narcissistic claptrap. Russia is suddenly a major power again and perhaps it is a greater power now than before because during the cold war Russia was not integrated into our system and the west had not come to depend on its infinite resources.

Suddenly Poland, the Baltic republics and the Ukraine are so many millstones around the European Union's neck. There is a very good chance that NATO will founder on this question as nobody in their right mind is going to go to war with Russia to defend Estonia and even the tensions within the European Union may become unbearable as German business's frustration grows at the obstacles that Poland continuously throws up to Germany's natural synergies with Russia. DS

Engaging an angry bear - The Boston Globe

Russians believe they have nothing to show for years of pro-U.S. policy, and instead have been rewarded with a policy of "neo-containment." Moscow sees the United States setting up ballistic missile defense interceptors and military bases on its borders, fomenting revolutions in neighboring states and supporting construction of oil and gas pipelines that circumvent Russia. Moscow views the status quo as enshrining its post-Cold War weakness, and the Kremlin is dead set on breaking out of that arrangement. Russia will likely seek to renegotiate arms control agreements and political arrangements that date from its time of troubles, the 1990s. The days of Moscow as Washington's junior partner are over. Doing business with this Russia won't be easy. But giving up on U.S.-Russian relations, a current predisposition among many elites in both capitals, won't serve either's interest. The world's leading power needs better ties with a Russia that is the leading producer of oil and gas, possesses thousands of nuclear warheads, is a key player in major crises (such as Iran) and - like it or not - will retain significant influence in its energy-rich(...) neighborhood.(...) the United States needs to fundamentally alter its conception of Russia. Moscow is resurgent on key diplomatic issues and Russian business is now influential across the globe. Washington should view Russia as a major nonaligned power - more like China or India than a poor second-tier disciple. READ IT ALL

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