On War #283: The Russian Imperative

By William S. Lind
November 17, 2008

The arriving Obama administration will be handed not merely a can of worms but a bucket of asps. Somewhere, I suspect the ghost of Herbert Hoover is smiling. The inherited foreign policy problems are no less daunting than the economic mess. But on the latter front, there is at least one piece of good news. It may be possible to set the U.S. – Russian relationship on a new course.

America’s failure to reintegrate post-Communist Russia into the concert of powers was a strategic blunder of the first order. The threat from the global south, manifested most powerfully by invasion by immigration but also evident in many other ways, can only be met by a united global north. Russia holds the West’s vast eastern flank, which stretches all the way from the Black Sea to Vladivostok. Were that flank to collapse, as Russia came close to doing in the early 1990s, the West’s geo-strategic position would become well-nigh hopeless.

Despite this strategic reality, evident to anyone who can read a map, Republican and Democratic administrations have vied to determine which could more effectively humiliate and alienate Russia. The Clinton administration probably won that contest with its inane war on Serbia, Russia’s historic ally. Bush II’s subsequent efforts to enlarge NATO and insistence on locating anti-missile defenses in eastern Europe were additional sticks in the Kremlin’s eye. The only reason for any of it was great power hubris, of the sort which littered the 20th century with wreckage. Regrettably, the Washington Establishment is as prideful as it is short-sighted.

Until last week, I would have said that the U.S. had damaged the prospects for an American-Russian entente beyond repair. But to the West’s potential good fortune, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has now signaled otherwise. According to the November 14 Financial Times, speaking shortly before his trip to Washington to a group of Russian and European business leaders, President Medvedev said that Russia could develop “neighborly and partnership-based relations with the U.S.” In Washington for the Group of 20 meeting, he repeated the message. The November 16 Washington Post quoted him as saying, “I think we can create in principle a new framework…a partnership between the U.S. and Russia.”

Responding to a question before the Council on Foreign Relations, Medvedev sent the message yet again. According to the Post, he said, “In my state of the nation address, I mentioned that Russia has no anti-Americanism, but there are some difficulties in understanding each other. We would like to overcome this with the new administration.”

It is imperative that the Obama administration respond positively to this diplomatic opening. After eight years of alienating friends and making more enemies, America is in dire need of fewer enemies and more friends. Russia could be a valuable friend indeed, diplomatically, militarily and economically.

Medvedev offered tantalizing hints about how the issue of missile defense might be handled. Again quoting the Post, he said, “But to my mind we have good opportunities to solve this problem … to agree either on a global system of protection against rogue states … or to find ways out in terms of programs existing already.” Russian anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense technology is a least as good as our own, maybe better. If the Obama administration is serious about missile defense for Europe, it can be provided far better by working with Russia than by threatening Russia.

Even more significantly, when Medvedev was asked before the CFR about the possibility of Russia joining NATO, he said, “There is a good phrase – never say never.” Since the fall of Communism, NATO has had no real reason to exist. But if Russia joined NATO, NATO would become what the West needs most, an alliance of the global north. This is a lead both the Obama administration and the European members of NATO should pursue avidly.

With all the old Clintonistas moving straight into the new Obama administration, there is not much hope for change. But perhaps even they can see that America is not wise to turn all the world into its enemy. That was Germany’s fatal blunder in both world wars. The Russians have opened the door to at least a normal relationship, perhaps much more. This time, let’s not slam it in their face.

P.S: There will be no On War column Thanksgiving week.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact (no e-mail available):

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Direct line: 703 837-0483

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Filed in Uncategorized | 10 responses so far

10 Responses to “On War #283: The Russian Imperative”

  1. senor tomason 19 Nov 2008 at 9:56 pm 1

    “America’s failure to reintegrate post-Communist Russia into the concert of powers ”

    Possibly done intentionally so the Pentagon and its parasite defense contractors could keep their boogeyman in order to justify expensive, wasteful welfare projects like the F-22.

  2. Oldpiloton 20 Nov 2008 at 4:20 pm 2

    Shouldn’t that be the ghost of FDR, smiling like a Cheshire cat? “Let’s see: I parlayed eight years of depression and four years of total war into what is fondly remembered as the New Deal. Can you top that?”

    Blue skies! — Dan Ford

  3. Maxon 21 Nov 2008 at 2:44 am 3

    “the ghost of FDR, smiling like a Cheshire cat?”

    Agreed, the current “situation” is ALL HIS fault,
    nothing to do with the present.

    M

  4. Maxon 22 Nov 2008 at 3:52 am 4

    ST,

    “the Pentagon and its parasite defense contractors could keep their boogeyman in order to justify expensive, wasteful”

    I admire your straight from the hip candor.

    As my life long interest and “enthusiasim” for military aviation eventually lead to my discovery of Col. Boyds clique & following, it became abundantly apparent to me that indeed that was what was happening.

    Even in the coldwar era, whereby the alledged Soviet menance was exagerated to be 14 ft tall, metephroicaly speaking.

    Not unlike totalitarian scenarios, we also use perpetual fear to manipulate politics and the population.

    Those games continue to this day, with 4th generational threats,
    the Chinese, N. Koreans, and the middle eastern flavour of the month, be it Syria, Iran, Pakistan, etc,,.

    And as the decades of the short sighted vision, and economic abuses by the elites on all sides of the corporate and political enviroment now come home to roost, sadly the whole developed world is paying a price.

    And yet the abuses continue, at every turn, despite the obvious
    conciquences that now truely menace the very stabilty and continuance of American life as we knew it.

    Human nature I suppose, whereby bad turns to worse, still worse, and one hits rock bottom before realality sets in, and evolutionary nature takes it’s course.

    Supported by examples below.

    Max.

    http://tinyurl.com/6kvuem
    http://tinyurl.com/5rstd5
    http://www.antiwar.com/engelhardt/
    http://www.homelandstupidity.us/

    And,
    “Progress continues” “The Surge is WERKING !”
    That is to bankrupt the USA and bring down western
    civilisation, as precisely intended by Alquida.

    http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=13799

  5. loggie20on 22 Nov 2008 at 6:34 am 5

    Max,

    Thanks for reminding us that the pork in the defense budget is driven by many players.

    Most have an interest ripping off of the nation’s wealth.

    We need to ask ourselves; is it better to buy more F-22 which are not needed for anything or rebuild the infrastructure?

    Evne the excuse of keeping the manufacturing facility open is reaching, if the product ain’t needed, and is too expensive, why have aplant running profitably to make it other than corporate welfare?

    Some years ago I worked an acquisition of a small system. We program office pukes did not see any reason to develop the thing and were going to let the money ‘expire’.

    We were directed to spend the money and informed, as your F-22 link, that the appropriation bill was law and required that we waste the money.

    The effect was to line the pockets of a company which was partly owned by a then well known political family linked to that administration and the party in power.

    The national security welfare state needs to be cut.

  6. Maxon 23 Nov 2008 at 7:49 pm 6

    LG,

    “The national security welfare state needs to be cut.”

    Let me share one vaugely possible scenario.

    A dramatic economic meltdown, turns to a collaphs,
    whereby many top bussiness and institutions fold.

    This leads to a paradyme shift in American scociety,
    whereby the previous obscene levels of executive compensation,
    inane to failure, including even sports celebrities and hollywood
    actors comes to an end.

    Not likely, not at all, but along with what you mention, is part
    of the right Rx.

    MaX

  7. Maxon 24 Nov 2008 at 5:21 am 7

    “We need to ask ourselves; is it better to buy more F-22 which are not needed for anything or rebuild the infrastructure?”

    Does the current scenario of what many identify and recognise as a variation of empire expansionism constitute a balanced and senseable approach ?

    Interesting point.

    The theory goes, that the Government under this model and to various degreesl is in the large scale business of the re-distribution of wealth. As governing eliltes see fit, and according to their agenda, interests and ambitions which WE supposidly vote in favor of, time and time again.

    For every $ 1 million of defence spending, lets say (wild guess)
    10,000 pepole in the defence establishment benefit directly,
    and perhaps to some extent, another 100,000 indirectly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics

    Now Let’s take an example close to the F-22, which has no useful equivelency at all, but instead the Abrams
    M1 tank.

    Let’s say, for every M1, you could alternatively aquire
    10 CAT bulldozers, and put those to work in construction and infrastucture. One must consider the overall cost benefit, of having
    say 10 machines plus crews, at work domesticaly, as opposed to 1 unit sent over seas to war. Even if 5 of said machines were similarly deployed overseas on projects.

    Now consider the current big picture, the situation as a whole,
    and do your own math.

    It’s difficult to say for sure, but personely I get a sense of sheer dread, that America is in a lot of very serious trouble, and maybe headed for complete disaster.

    Where will this current ‘bailout” scenario lead, and to what end ?
    Where to draw the line ?
    How much more will it eventually cost ?
    Are the interests involved really worthy of this effort and accumulated cost overall ?
    M
    http://tinyurl.com/6pw2z8

  8. Maxon 24 Nov 2008 at 2:25 pm 8

    Maybe I am an idiot, Maybe someone needs to explain this to me.

    However, I can’t logicaly reconcile massive continued spending
    on war(s), militarly aquistions, coporate bailouts, and the ensutant burgeoning deficit and accumulated debt and interest, with continued tax reductions.

    It dosn’t seem to fit, in my own experience, when one experiences a revenue decline, and has a massive deficit of incoming funds VS liabilities, and accumulated debts, one does not go on a spending spree, while simultainously bailing out long lost reletives.

    Anyone ?
    http://tinyurl.com/5owozk
    Max

  9. loggie20on 24 Nov 2008 at 5:42 pm 9

    Logistics is the economic aspect of war. You need enough material and moral power to go to war and succeed.

    Here is a link to an aricle about why money spent on the war machine is not stimulative, there are better things to stimulate the economy with: http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods81.html

    “Melman argued that the decline of the once-prosperous American machine-tool industry – harmed already by the displacement of urgently needed R&D talent into the military sector – is a direct result of its coming to have the Pentagon as its major customer, a relationship he argues that destroyed the industry’s competitive edge.”

    Seymour Melman was an outspoken opponent of the opportunity lost to the warfare state.

    In almost all cases there are better things to do with federal spending than a war machine that is worn out training for tactics that are never needed.

    As to cutting taxes, all you do with deficit spending is pass our problems on to future tax payers.

  10. Maxon 26 Nov 2008 at 2:31 pm 10

    “As to cutting taxes, all you do with deficit spending is pass our problems on to future tax payers.

    Agreed, however it’s a little more complcated.

    Long before that, your creditors start getting nervous, at the prospects of being repaid in thier lifetime, if ever, and shift you to a higher risk catagory. Interests charges rize, still further borrowing gets more difficult and ever more costly.

    This can even trigger a collaphs of the currency.

    Whereby you show up at the grocery store with $ 120.00 cash and leave
    with a loaf of white bread.

    That in my mind is a much more imminent national security concern than Russia, or Iran wich I consider contrived and largely fabricated, by interests positioned to continue to profit from the warfare state.

    In my feeble estimation, this what the USA is tottaly oblivious to,
    and is now flirting with.

    As if things wern’t bad enough.

    M