Our one time Cold War super enemy, Russia, is now more amenable. While Russia did get a bid more chummy after the fall of the Berlin wall, they showed signs recently of wanting to get back into the super power game. However, the latest change is that Russia seems to want to be our friend once again.
One possible reason for this the the Obama charm offensive. Obama has said that he wants to reset the relations with the Russians and he has been showing the world that he really wants to make friends. The Russians might sincerely want to be part of this circle of friends or they might have decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to take advantage of America’s new friendliness. That is, perhaps they are cleverly exploiting what some might see as a naive approach to foreign policy.
Another possible reason is that the Russian economy is hurting. They are facing a double threat. First, the world ecomomy is doing poorly in general. Secondly, oil prices have dropped and Russia gets much of its export money from oil. Interestingly, Russia’s beligerence seems directly proportional to its wealth. While the US is hurting is well, the end of the Cold War and recent economic events make it clear that the US economy is stronger and more resilient that the Russian economy. Of course, all economies have a breaking point-something we should be well aware of.
Playing nice with Russia is actually advantageous to us. We have to deal with Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Afghanistan, numerous terrorists groups and other problems. Having Russia not being a problem would be a significant help. Having Russia on our side from time to time would be even better.
While the US and Russia are often at odds, we do have many common interests. Neither the US nor Russia want North Korea starting up a war. Neither country wants Iran to get out of hand. Both countries would like Afghanistan to be stable (although I’m sure the Russians would like to see us bleed a bit more-they certainly remember who helped make them bleed badly there in the 1980s). As such, it makes good sense to play well with Russia. Of course, once the price of oil goes back up and their economy is better, they might decide they want to have a try at the Cold War revival games once more.
While Obama’s trip to Moscow is getting news coverage, it is losing out to Michael Jackson. Of course, that is the way of the news media-it has to give people what they want to see rather than what is truly significant.