In recent months Russia has been returning to some of its Cold War behavior. One example is that Russian bombers have been getting close to US airspace near Alaska. In the past year, there have been about sixteen incidents. So far, the Russian planes have peacefully departed the area (escorted by US fighters).
A second example is that Russia has said it will again aim its nuclear missiles at Europe. At the end of the Cold War, Russia announced that its nuclear missiles would no longer be targeted at Europe. This symbolic gesture expressed a change in Russian behavior and attitude. Apparently, the Russians have changed their attitude back.
One reason for this is that Russia’s economy is doing better, hence they might think they can afford to go back to the expense of being a top rate military power. Naturally, as a top rate military power, they need to show that they have the will to use their weapons. Another reason is that Russia probably wants to go back to being a major player on the world stage. For decades, being a major player meant squaring off against the United States. As such, it is hardly shocking that they are going back to their old ways. Third, the United States is pushing for a missile defense system. The Russians see this as a threat to their security and hence are reacting in kind. It seems likely that the Russians might see the missile defense system as a return to the Cold War on the part of the United States.
Russia has the potential to be an excellent ally for the United States and to be a positive agent on the world stage. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, to have the Cold War start up again. Since our military is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be hard pressed to deal with the Russian threat once more. Of course, the United States’ invasion of Iraq has given the Russians a great opportunity. While our military and economy is getting ground down by that mess, they can build their strength. And, of course, we cannot forget China. They are loaning us billions and enjoying a very profitable trade balance. Meanwhile, the Bush administration seems obsessed with Iran and terror. It seems they are missing two great threats to the United States.