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.
They are not very charmed with him as I see it.
Putin is the cleverest politician on the planet. With this agreement, he managed to cut our conventional forces while leaving Russia’s intact. Many US systems can deliver nuclear or conventional weapons and the Russians asked that we reduce our delivery systems; we wanted Russia to get rid of warheads.
By reducing multi-purpose delivery systems, we’ve had our conventional power significantly reduced, while nuclear warheads we’ll never use sit in dusty warehouses on Top Secret facilities.
Putin lacks Obama’s naivite’. Too bad for us.
Michael LaBossiere says
Putin is a sharp fellow and certainly knows how to get things done. While his abilities do pose a threat to the US, his assistance can also be very useful in dealing with our shared problems. But, the question is whether or not that will be more of a gain or a net loss for us.
Putin is going to rake him over the coals. This will go nowhere without the Missile Defense system we want in Europe disappearing. Putin will not let that go.
Very perceptive post. It clearly points to the deceptive, selfish and arrogant nature of politics and international relations. That being the case what hope have we of a better world? Between oil and land (and now, increasing ethnic and religious tensions) we constantly live in the shadow of war. Wealth and weapons are where countries derive their power.
What happens when the wealth is no more and the oil is dried up?
We’ll be waging wars over wind power. 🙂 BTW, we have been killing each other from the beginning of our existence. When everything is gone I’m sure we can still kill each other with sticks over something.
That the world is more warlike than ever is a myth. There have been fewer deaths in warfare since 2001 than in any same time period of the 20th century. (Monitoring Trends in Global Combat: A new Dataset of Battle Deaths, Lacina & Gleditsch)
Michael LaBossiere says
Warfare seems to be almost a constant-there is always at least one war or conflict going on at any given moment.