Take a listen, I’m on every Sunday at 9:30 PM. Here is this week’s segment.
Now that the Chesapeake primary is over, its clear that Obama is well on his way to face the inevitable Republican in the race, John McCain. McCain will no doubt attempt to run a race based upon his foreign policy credentials. He will do this by conflating Islamic terrorism as an ideological struggle using the the hackneyed and irrelevant logic of the cold war. Obama must answer with a comprehensive policy on Russia that shows he can distinguish Islamic Terrorism to that which we faced under the Soviet Union. By doing so he enlist the aid of a power currently in a commanding position to aid or hinder the US in Central Asia generally, and in Iran specifically. Let’s not forget that our incursion into Afghanistan could not have been achieved without Russian cooperation in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, tacitly allowing us to use bases from which they launched their own invasion of Afghanistan. It was also convenient that Russia supplied many of the weapons that were sent to the Northern Alliance who did the heavy lifting in toppling the Taliban. Obama must embrace them to further the interest in the war on terror and keep Russia and China from becoming strategic partners, a winning coalition we could not hope to prevail against. Where once China was the junior partner to the Soviet State, it is now Russia which may be the junior partner in a Chinese alliance in Asia, disrupting our interests and causing indecision amongst our allies. Here is a proposed speech Obama can use to diffuse tensions and reach and understanding with Putin and his successors.
In 1989 Eastern Europe experienced and unprecedented revolution, it was a time that US policymakers and Presidents had been working toward since Churchill’s 1947 Iron Curtain speech. Although the Marshall plan solidified Western Europe into the orbit of a democratic, capitalist, NATO alliance, millions of Eastern Europeans who had suffered at the hands of Nazi occupation now had new masters that wore Red instead of Brown. Meanwhile two great powers stood toe-to-toe with one another pointing machine guns and tank muzzles at one another where once they shook hands over the destroyed idea of Fascism. In 1989, Eastern Europe chose freedom over the politics of fear and oppression. That story is well known, what is not well known is that Russia too had undergone its own second revolution that was every bit as dramatic as that which befell their former satellites. When Borsi Yeltsin stood atop a tank and would not accept the resurgence of the Soviet Union, Communism was destroyed in Russia by the coup plotters who had desperately tried to save it by overthrowing Mikhail Gorbachev. Though the coup was defeated, Gorbachev never resumed power.
The second Russian revolution could have gone in two directions. The first, championed by BorisYeltsin looked to democratic institutions and sweeping free market reforms, the second, to a reaction to the west and a return to virulent nationalism, censorship, and distrust of the west. At the time former President Nixon warned us not to abandon Russia and the historic opportunity presented by the destruction of the Soviet State. He reminded us that Russia though weakened was still an important power, and one that we could bring in th right direction as long as we provided the same earnest efforts to rebuild Europe after WWII. Instead, we turned our back on Russia, and Russia turned her back on us, undermining the goodwill that was generated by those early days when anything seemed possible. Instead of helping Russia, we preferred to see her weak, governed by corrupt and inefficient institutions, suffering from inflation, a decline of public resources, economic hardship, and military decline. By tour inaction, we showed that we weren’t really serious at helping Russia establish a free and democratic society. Once a brush-fire war began in Chechnya, Russia committed to a new course, one which stripped local authorities of power and eroded the freedoms so recently gained. Russia has used the bogeyman of terrorism, the politics of fear to turn in a direction more centralized expanded government, mistrustful of the individual and less free. We have seen what the politics of fear has done in our own country, causing a centralization of federal power, expanding government, and yes making Americans less free.
Yes we have sent the wrong message to Russia, we have sent the wrong message by continuing to see them through the lens of teh cold war, John McCain has said that when he looks into Putin’s eyes he sees the KGB. THis is not only unhelpful too demonize an important partner, but is also inaccurate as it ignores the realities of Russia and still views it within the prism the cold war. True Russia is more statist and nationalist than we are., but it is also true that the world has always treated Russia as an enemy therefore her leaders can always use the politics of fear to take away their peoples freedoms, it is a powerful lesson which we ought to learn to avoid the same result. We have sent the wrong message to Russia by ignoring their strategic interest and failing to treat them as the serious, and I might add, resurgent power. We have sent the wrong message by turning a blind eye to them as they take away the freedoms of their people. Worst of all we have sent the wrong message by ignoring them. The Bush administration has stood against the Kyoto protocol which Russia stood to benefit by its surplus of Carbon credits it could sell on the open market. The Bush administration has abrogated the ABM treaty which is a cornerstone of continuing arms control. Finally, the administrations, scheme to place missile interceptors in Eastern Europe on Russia’s borders can have no strategic justification other than to provide an umbrella against Russian deterrence and not rogue missiles launched from the Middle East as Bush claims. We these actions Russians feel ignored. Recently they flew over Tupolev bombers over our carriers, like a child having a tantrum they are reminding us that we will ignore them at our peril. Russia we hear you loud and clear!
We caution Russia, we must remind them and ourselves of the terrible cost of the cold war, how every-night the threat of nuclear oblivion hung over the world. We must not forget the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crises and how close we really cam to that fateful day. We must remind Russia and ourselves that any military confrontation is truly MAD, that is mutually assured destruction a cornerstone of the nuclear age. So how do we change, how do we keep Russia from becoming an enemy once again.
1) We ratify the Kyoto Protocol, allowing Russia to benefit from the carbon trading market.
2) We abandon the fairy tale of missile defense in Europe, we don’t want to use missile defense to bully Russia just as we don’t want them to use their vast Oil and natural gas reserves to hold Europe hostage by threatening to cut off supply of these vital resources.
3) We must have real arms control. This means two things. First securing loose nuclear material and working on reducing existing stockpiles. Second, arms control means limiting the export of small arms which continue to fuel conflict around the world as well as getting into the hands of non-state actors such as Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
4) We must work on security issues such as resolving the Balkan conflict which continues to remain a flash-point in Europe.
5) We also must work on proliferation issues with respect to Iran and North Korea. Making Russia a partner also strengthens our hand in possibly getting support in the security council for a new resolution to deal with these problems and also have political support for a strategic withdrawal from Iraq.
6) Finally, we must engage Russia to balance out the growing power of China.
I’m not saying these things are easy but they are concrete steps to keep us from slipping back into the dark days of the cold war.
After writing this initial effort on a new direction in Foreign policy, the Balkan region of Kosovo formally declared independence to the chagrin of Serbia and there traditional protectors Russia. This was a spot of contention that the US chose as a matter of course. Continued conflict was inevitable as Russian APC’s rolled into Pristina airport saving face. The quick recognition by the US and other Western Powers has not only alienated Russia further from feeling it can make accommodation to the West but only undergirds their feeling that any workable partnership with NATO is merely a fig leaf to preserves its traditional role as a bulwark in Eastern Europe. The recognition of Kosovo was not only hasty but clearly illegal under international law as the region of Kosovo under UN resolution 1244 “can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” but is not authorized to declare independence outside the political process within a federal Serbia. Clearly the resolution as written was never designed to create an independent country, much less one that would cut Serbia off from the Adriatic and very likely lead to the creation of a non-viable impoverished nation that could give new life to organized crime much like the breakaway regions in the Caucasus. Follwoing this precedent Russia will no doubt encourage Abkhazian and Ossetian separatism in Georgia under the guise of a newfound self-determination gone wild. Many can argue that the prospect of a predominantly Muslim population such as Kosovo waving American flags is a bright spot in a string of dismal policy failures by the US. Islamic radicals of course don’t remember that and if the Kosovars cheer its likely they will be cheering for Bill Clinton who actually achieved this result.
Now to business, let’s get the tanks rolling, time’s awasting. For those of you don’t quite get what’s going on with this primary business, listen to my take:
Hillary is the proverbial hare and Obama the Tortoise, she couldn’t secure the deal quickly enough to shut out the possibility of an insurgency campaign, now as Obama takes the delgates, state by state. Hillary must try to snatch victory form the jaws of defeat by making a mad dash through Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Can she wait that long for a victory: doubtful.
And the rest of the story goes a little like this.
So what’s this story really about between Hillary and Obama? It’s really about none other than Tortoise and the Hare.
Here’s my take on selling Obama to the Democratic ticket. Making the Sale
Race and class in the primaries? How could I miss it. Race and Class
As for McCain, ah, my Dear McCain.
the sword and McCain.
Next time on The Take.
the primaries and Chesapeake.