1 September 2008

The campaign and Russia

John McCain and Barack Obama have a long road ahead of them until Election Day. There will be many tests and obstacles to overcome. Some will be tougher than others. However, the eventual winner of this captivating duel will have their hands full come January 21st. Not least with issues such as energy, healthcare, the Middle East and the economic down turn. However, they will also be faced; presumably, with an issue American politicians thought had died in the early 1990’s. Russia is once again at the forefront of Washington’s attention.

It had seemed that America and Russia were drawing closer together, forging new partnerships and great cooperation with one another. Yet the old sense of mistrust and anxiety seems to be sinking back into the minds of many in Washington and Moscow. These feelings will also be playing heavily on the minds of Obama and McCain.

The tones of both Presidential hopefuls could not be different when it comes to foreign policy, just look at Iran. However the issue of Russia shows that there are some similarities. John McCain has cited that the controversial missile defence shield, to be stationed in the Czech Republic and Poland, is most definitely a reaction to the threat posed by Russia. The very notion of the Shield has drawn great hostility from Moscow, who has always argued that it is aimed at them. Although the Bush administration has always strenuously denied this; Senator McCain’s comments will have led to greater resentment towards the idea.

A general notion floating around is that although America and Europe are keen to have the missile defence shield in place because they feel threatened from ‘rogue’ nations, such as Iran; it is in fact Russia who is feeling threatened. Her actions in Georgia last week suggest that this notion may be true. Russia is sending a warning to the West that she is still strong, and will not be pushed about. The fact that Georgia was comprehensively and disproportionately routed by Russian troops is a message aimed at the West.

Georgia was subject to much press coverage earlier in the year, when she (along with Ukraine) was temporarily refused entry into NATO. This did not sit well with the Russian hierarchy of Medvedev and Putin. Although the two former Soviet states were not granted entry into the Western alliance, it was more of a ‘not yet’ than a definite no. Both NATO and the EU have been encroaching into former Soviet territory, with the Baltic States and former Warsaw Pact nations joining both organisations. This has led Russia to feel, once again, isolated and surrounded by American proxies.

Russia has rejuvenated itself over the past eight years. The military which looked far from superpower-esque during the Chechen campaigns of the 1990’s, has had a much needed re-vamp. Spending has increased, and it shows with modern hard-wear now at their disposal. The signs were there for all to see that Russia would not sit back and watch her power and authority diminish, not least in her own backyard. The Litvenenko murder, the reinstatement of Soviet style long range air patrols and diplomatic flexing of muscles, such as the UN Mugabe debacle back in July, were all clear signs that Russia was back on the horizon as a possible sore spot for America. Now the actions of the Russian military in Georgia complete the package. Russia is a force once more.

How will America act towards this? The current, so-called, ‘lame-duck’ administration of George W Bush has reacted strongly, albeit, verbally to the Russian onslaught on Georgia. However, surely Bush knows that there is little he can do in the short time he has left in office. It really is a problem for the next incumbent in the Washington hot seat. Contrasting to McCain’s rhetoric towards Russia, Senator Obama has again been more diplomatic in his approach; a policy which has become common for the Illinois Senator. Obama is portraying himself as being more cooperative with the Russians in cases where Moscow feels threatened, such as Missile Defence.

However, what is the right way to approach Russia? Is McCain right in offering a tough line with Moscow. Showing them that their aggression to their sovereign neighbours will not go unchallenged by his administration? Or is Obama right to try and rein Russia in, and rebuild their trust, without compromising the security of America or Europe. The fact is whatever position is taken with Russia there will still be great difficulties and complexities when concerning the relationship between America and Russia. These are testing times in the relationship. However, one does not simply turn into friends over night, after being enemies for the past forty five years. The next President will have to learn that, and most probably learn that the hard way.

Nevertheless, I feel that although both Presidential hopefuls have said that they would not be dictated to by Russia when it comes to their national security, this may lead to other concessions. Giving in to Russia demands about NATO expansion may be one area of compromise. America needs Russia more than she knows. Oil and gas flow from Russia into Europe, and with the flick of a switch Europe could be cut off. Not only that, but Russia is needed by America in its fight against global terrorism. Having Russia as an enemy, along with Islamic extremists is not an ideal situation for the Pentagon, already stretched by commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Securing loose nuclear materials throughout the ex Soviet Union nations is another area where America will need Russian cooperation (something which Barack Obama has previously highlighted).

Barack Obama and John McCain have a lot of issues that need dealing with if they are successful in their bid for the White House, some more important than other. Can the next President find the right tactic to deal with Moscow? The importance of how to deal with Russia is, as always for Washington, very high on the agenda.

By Stewart Munn


Anonymous said...

Hasn't Putin said that Bush started the Georgian war to benefit McCain? I am pretty sure he said that. And it wouldnt surprise me!

Anonymous said...

Russia is a Superpower again as the United States, CNN (as stated here on CNN August 1, 2008) and other news media's have admitted http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?id=768929 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8dNr2GH08I, this is an NATO expansion war. US former president Ronald Reagan promise Russia there would be no NATO expansion into post Soviet Union countries back 1989 which has clearly been violated. NATO is the new cold war, they are expanding and we cannot trust NATO. NATO is evil and Russia is the ally here. People need to Google the truth about what NATO means and what relation is NATO, EU & Bilderberg together. I support Russia and I am against NATO, NATO is the enemy here. NATO wants to expand membership and spread every they can into more countries. NATO is about building a military block and when countries apply for NATO membership, they wave their rights to protect themselves or governored themselves but are under the rules of NATO. It is a communist movement on a private sector by NATO and this is wrong. Russia & China has been dead set against NATO and this is why. I want Russia to make its stance and stand against NATO, this evil lying agency that has no business taking countries rights away.

Who start this conflick? Georgia, NATO & the US, read link by Pat Buchanan : http://www.lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan94.html and this video link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBRl-BvKJII

And read what Ron Paul has said about NATO pushing into Russia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyJiWYmXGLY

Here is a couple of Americans living in Georgia admitting Georgia & the US started the conflicts with Russia and that Georgia was indeed killing Russian people inside of Georgia. Something the US bilderberg media is not going to air on US television news channels.

We have to understand that Russia is protecting itself from NATO.

NATO is an organization whose purpose ended with the end of its Warsaw Pact adversary. When NATO struggled to define its future after the Cold War, it settled on attacking a sovereign state, Yugoslavia, which had neither invaded nor threatened any NATO member state.

This current round of NATO expansion is a political reward to governments in Georgia and Ukraine that came to power as a result of US-supported revolutions, the so-called Orange Revolution and Rose Revolution. The governments that arose from these street protests were eager to please their US sponsor and the US, in turn, turned a blind eye to the numerous political and human rights abuses that took place under the new regimes. Thus the US policy of “exporting democracy” has only succeeding in exporting more misery to the countries it has targeted.

NATO expansion only benefits the US military industrial complex, which stands to profit from expanded arms sales to new NATO members. The “modernization” of former Soviet militaries in Ukraine and Georgia will mean tens of millions in sales to US and European military contractors. The US taxpayer will be left holding the bill, as the US government will subsidize most of the transactions. Providing US military guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia can only further strain our military. This NATO expansion may well involve the US military in conflicts as unrelated to our national interest as the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia. The idea that American troops might be forced to fight and die to prevent a small section of Georgia from seceding is absurd and disturbing.

By Congressman Ron Paul: http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2008/04/01/ron-paul-disband-nato/

So I have provided these facts below to state Russia is indeed a Superpower.

The Russian empire strikes back 16/08/2008

Russia confident they are a Superpower again

The Christian Science Monitor
By Helena Cobban from the August 22, 2008 edition

Georgia: a return to superpower misbehaviour
The First Post August 21, 2008

Merkel's Most Serious Foreign Policy Crisis: Superpower Flexes its Muscles: 08/18/2008
U.S. worries Russia returning to its past
Bush administration struggles for right response to Russia's aggression
Updated 9:39 a.m. PT, Sun., Aug. 17, 2008

Russia Attacks Neighbor; Return of a Superpower; Interview With Sergei Ivanov, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister
Aired August 11, 2008 - 11:00 ET

A Superpower Is Reborn
The New York Times
By RONALD STEEL Published: August 24, 2008

Superpower swoop : New Statesman
Misha Glenny
Published 14 August 2008

US worries Russia returning to authoritarian past
By the Associated Press

Russians are confident their nation is back as a Superpower
Superpower Russia
Published: 8/12/2008

John Roughan: So much for sole superpower
5:00AM Saturday August 16, 2008 New Zealand Herald

Danger of Cold War
August 18, 2008: The FINANCIAL

Washington Acknowledges Russia as Superpower
May 27, 2007

Putin's Paranoid Bear Sharpens Its Claws
The Scotsman: August 18, 2008

The Red Army marches again: Dailymail
Last updated at 22:48 10 May 2008

Washington Acknowledges Russia as Superpower
Kommersant: May 26, 2007

Russia in the 21st Century: The Prodigal Superpower

Global Warming, the Arctic Thaw and the New Cold War
Why Russia's Incursion Into Georgia Bodes Ill for the Climate
August 18, 2008

U.S. No More The Only Super Power
Michael Webster, Investigative Reporter: American Chronicle

Anonymous said...

Sorry but the last person who posted clearly has been reading too much Kremlin propaganda...who's troops occupied who's sovereign territory (that wasn't Abkazhia or S.Ossetia)...yes that's right it was the Russians. Gori is Georgia 'proper'. This post is an example of the huge misunderstanding of the conflict that many Russians have. just read the 'Have Your Say' columns on the BBC News Website, and you'll see that Russian state news agencies are brainwashing the population there.