In September 2001, as the U.S. reeled from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vladimir Putin supported Washington's imminent invasion of Afghanistan in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War.
He agreed that U.S. planes carrying humanitarian aid could fly through Russian air space. He said the U.S. military could use airbases in former Soviet republics in Central Asia. And he ordered his generals to brief their U.S. counterparts on their own ill-fated 1980s occupation of Afghanistan.
During Putin's visit to President George W. Bush's Texas ranch two months later, the U.S. leader, speaking at a local high school, declared his Russian counterpart "a new style of leader, a reformer…, a man who's going to make a huge difference in making the world more peaceful, by working closely with the United States."
For a moment, it seemed, the distrust and antipathy of the Cold War were fading.
Then, just weeks later, Bush announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, so that it could build a system in Eastern Europe to protect NATO allies and U.S. bases from Iranian missile attack. In a nationally televised address, Putin warned that the move would undermine arms control and nonproliferation efforts. Reuters
On the MSM the drumbeat for demonization of Russia continues. Senator John McCain appeared on Morning Joe today to mock US foreign policy as weak and ineffective. He made the interesting distinction between "defensive" and "offensive" weapons in his rant on this subject. Perhaps in the navy there is a real difference between the two but the distinction disappears in the world of actual combat. Tanks, artillery, combat aircraft, even things like land mines are equally useful in either the defense or the offense. McCain must know that, even he must know that. To make such appeals for arming a foreign country at the risk of inducing civil war is remarkably irresponsible. It is so irresponsible that the roots of the irresponsibility must be sought in temperament and obsession.
McCain seems to have a lot of problems in these areas but he is still encouraged to spout jingoist statements for what? Good television? pl pl
Matlock: “So many of the problems in our relationship really relate, I would say, to what I’d call inconsiderate American actions. Many of them were not meant to be damaging to Russia…But the Russian interpretation often exaggerated the degree of hostility and overreacted.”
I wonder what Matlock would have seen as appropriate Russian responses to the three “trainwrecks” of 2008: the unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence, the US leading the charge for the construction of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and the NATO expansion decisions.
It seems to me that the US only accepts complete prostration as an appropriate posture by foreign nations.
It is not yet clear to me how or when the US FP establishment began to treat Russia as a non-factor in world geo-political calculations! This was and is a horrendous mistake. The US did NOT win the Cold War although the Soviets may well have lost it!
This is an older, but good read which details how we managed to screw up our relationship with Iran after 9-11.
“”I would much rather be playing our hand than his over the longer term,” the official said. “Because he has a number of, I think, pretty serious strategic disadvantages – a one-dimensional economy, a political system and a political elite that’s pretty rotten through corruption.””
Pot, meet Kettle.
After years of swearing up and down that construction of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe was not directed at Russia, is it not a bizarre de facto admission that it was, when the reintroduction of the system is proposed as a punishment for Russia?
interesting article, though I find Filkins too overtly hostile i.e. in the DC consensus for my taste, and if this is any indication, too gullible also:
“Since then, Suleimani has orchestrated attacks in places as far flung as Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos, and Nairobi—at least thirty attempts in the past two years alone. The most notorious was a scheme, in 2011, to hire a Mexican drug cartel to blow up the Saudi Ambassador to the United States as he sat down to eat at a restaurant a few miles from the White House.”
Filkins asserts it as fact. However, there’s reason to doubt that account.
“While the administration of Barack Obama vows to hold the Iranian government “accountable” for the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, the legal document describing evidence in the case provides multiple indications that it was mainly the result of an FBI “sting” operation.”
The ABM Treaty breaking had to be critical..the Russians saw it as a significant adverse development and drew their conclusions therefrom. And for what ? The system for which the Treaty was broken still is not fully operational nor does it deliver what was promised.
BTW- am at Than Son Hut airport in Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City). Odd to see all the Vietnam Airlines flights to places like Da Nang, Pleiku, Hue, etc.
It is crystal clear in the article that professor Obama and fellow academically educated and academically experienced leaders knew (and still know) exactly what needs to be done:
“After his 2008 election victory, Barack Obama carried out a sweeping review of Russia policy. Its primary architect was Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and vocal proponent of greater democracy in Russia who took the National Security Council position previously held by Thomas Graham…. In a recent interview, … McFaul said, was that relations with Moscow were seen as important in terms of achieving other foreign policy goals, and not as important in terms of Russia itself.”
Democracy in all these distance places only matter “in terms of achieving other foreign policy goals….” Just how much concern do they place on democracy in America? The Constitution? The right to habeas corpus? Those are just roadblocks in the path of domestic policy goals.
Ha, ha! I had exactly the same reaction to that passage.
Thanks Fred! Will check out McFaul!
fyi some latest news on deployment, including your operational assessment and a nod to timeliness at the end.
“Missile Defense Agency. . . spokesman Rick Lehner, in an email to the newsletter, said the agency still needs to show evidence of a consistent need for the antimissile technology, a stable design, reliable funding, a realistic price projection and the probability of significant savings compared to a yearly acquisition order.”
So its ready to deploy in Romania, except for need, design, and funding/”savings” guarantees.
Wtf is it for? Must check my Raytheon stock.
In face of these so difficult times, Kerry publicly laments the demise of the Cold War, when everything was easier and clearer.
Inded, just pause a minute and contrast that to the difficulties and ambiguities America has to deal with today!
One may say that supporting Jihadis in Syria is a bad idea over such people having comitted 9/11 and for all their bombings, headchoppings, stonings and vandalising churches. But when Russia is the Devil again, them being against the devil makes them, mutatis mutandis, good and friends of America! (Not.)
Or take supporting unabashed neo-nazis in Ukraine who have taken control of four key ministries. One may say that that is a bad idea. But them being Russophobes (and Polophobes and Jewophobes and generally everything-not-western-ukraininan-phobes) of the first order makes them, mutatis mutandis, good and noble, and natural allies of America! (Really?)
What became of: “When you bed with swine you get dirty”?
I have to admit, I myself fondly remember the days when 18 tactical nuclear warheads were aimed at my garrison town. (Not.)
That gave us so much clarity. (Not to mention those post nuclear nightmares. How I miss those.)
And then there was the so imposed self restraint. After all, what prevented the Cuba Crisis from escalating was the insight that it wasn’t worth escalating.
Back then, nobody in his right mind would have flirted with the idea of going bear hunting over the fate of the Krim or Eastern Ukraine. It would have come across kinda harebrained and reckless then.
Not to mmention Vietnam, which was a clearcut fight of Western Goodness against Eastern Evil – as Mr Kerry can testify to. Or can he?
Is it just me or is Kerry calling for a straightjacket that would prevent people like him – buffoons out of their depth – from screwing up too badly?
I mean, one of the niceties of the Cold War was that the US would ally with anybody as long as he only was a staunch anti-communist. Human rights record? A scondary concern. For dictatorships there was Jeanne Kirkpatricks double standard after which not decided what you did but what you were labeled as, and wheher you stood with the US or not. The narrative of Amerivca vs. Evil did all the rest.
It is the ultimate hoax that it is, of all people, Kerry, the vacuous head honcho of the R2P posse, who laments that in the days of the Cold War everything was easier.
Goodness, why can’t Obama deliver us and America from that idiot and fire him? Just get rid of him before he can start WW III for lack of better ideas. Because he likely doesn’t have any.
I attended a lecture on the Ukraine situation in Traverse City on Monday. The speaker was Jack Segal of the International Relations Institute of Northern Michigan. One of his conclusions in response to a question, which boiled down to “What are we doing there?”, was that we (America) don’t know. That is, since we are unable to define rational objectives, our strategy tends not to rooted in reality and is arrived at through a confluence of personalities, the agenda of influential groups, the need to win elections, and emotional analogies, such as good and bad guys, the umpteenth reincarnation of Hitler, and the Cold War.
I recall several years ago when a big adoo was made of placing the new ABM missiles in Alaska which purportedly would protect the US from a DPRK attack.
One person who was in the know stated that those missiles had the same defensive effect as a bunch of telephone poles.
It gets even better. You should read this fine report of a poor milenial ready for her ‘dream job’ in the defense industry. Master’s in International Relations, speaks Arabic, wonderful; except for that work thing. And yes, they do blow things up in war. I assume she went to that Masters program at the univeristy of fantasy island, where this is no such thing as violence in war. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303825604579514261213600936
William Fitzgerald said…
“I attended a lecture on the Ukraine situation in Traverse City on Monday. ”
A great description of what goes on a juvenile’s mind…
Well, there is a military-based right-wing rogue nuclear theocracy in the Middle East that has developed ICBMs that can hit Washington with a one-ton throw weight, along with neutron bombs to stuff it with. Is it possible the U.S. military actually knows what it’s doing? Serious question.