Russia’s New Muscle Puts US In Tangle
IN RECENT YEARS, the Russians have been renowned as masters of chess. President Vladimir Putin seems a good student of the game from his days in the Russian secret service and is playing his hand deftly against the United States. Recently, he was hosted by United States President George W. Bush at his family estate in Maine. From all reports their relationship seemed to have warmed up again after Putin’s outburst when Bush announced America’s intention to station missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic in Europe.
The visit was Bush’s diplomatic attempt to soothe the ruffled feathers and to assure Putin that United States was well-intentioned. It came as a complete surprise therefore that within weeks Russia would suspend its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. To the Caribbean countries this development might have little significance but it could have some consequence in international affairs. It shows the nascent hubris by Russia which was quick to point out that it was not a withdrawal, only a suspension.
Full Nation Editorial
BU quite enjoyed the captioned editorial which was a departure from the same old, same old. With the collapse of the cold war period and the dismantling of communism, the world has seen the consolidation of power in the hands of the United States of America. Diplomats seemed to earn their way back then, and when it failed there was the reliable gun boat diplomacy which was used to good effect to balance the forces of the East and West. We had numerous SALT agreements (weapons agreements) and the world had to live with cold war rhetoric. In retrospect it seems unbelievable to write that the world appeared to be a safer place compared to now.
Recently Putin, the Russian President directed some harsh words towards the United Kingdom (UK). A quote attributed to him:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed a UK request for Andrei Lugovoi’s extradition as the remnant of a “colonial mindset”.“They have long forgotten that it is a long time since Britain was a colonial power,” he told Russian TV.
The re-emergence of Russia and more importantly Putin’s assertive and crafty approach to developing a foreign policy, has presented an issue for the world to think about. Within the last week Russia and China have teamed up to have a military exercise in China and five more are planned for the rest of the year. Although the motive behind the military exercise has been given as:
Russia will hold a counterterrorism military exercise with China and other members of the “Shanghai Six” in August, the Ground Forces commander said Friday.”The main [of the six international counterterrorism exercises planned for the year] will be a joint exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in August,” a regional grouping dominated by Russia and China, Army General Alexei Maslov said.
There is no doubt that the collaboration between China and Russia must be creating sleepless nights in the West. Both countries practice communism and despite overtures to westernize their economies many would admit that a communist system of government seems the better approach to managing their respective economies where both have large populations to manage in underdeveloped economies. The distribution of wealth in China and Russia continues to be an issue for them.
BU readers may ask what does this have to do with Barbados. At this point we are not sure, what we know is the infestation of Chinese labor throughout the Caribbean region and China using its economic power to entrench itself permanently in our small countries could lead to some interesting outcomes. The reemergence of communism will lead to the old tensions of the past. No doubt pressure will be brought to bear from China on our small countries to support their various agendas in the global forums. Prime Minister Arthur’s and the other Caribbean leaders overtures to China has the potential to create an awkward position if the interest of China and USA collide in the future.
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Very good article. Like you I read the Nation editorial and was glad for a relief from the same old stuff as before.
I think the re-emergence of Russia as a superpower can only be a good thing for the Caribbean. It means that the US may give us more attention as it may (rightly) feel that it can no longer take our co-operation for granted. Russia also can be used as a foreign policy lever against the Chinese who are very much in ascendance right now.
The further we move away from a Unipolar world, the better we are.
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Drumming up a New Cold War
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 31st July 2007
You probably missed it, but it’s not your fault. In the 48 hours before parliament broke up for the summer, the government made 76 policy announcements(1). It’s a long-standing British tradition: as the MPs and lobby correspondents re packing their bags for their long summer break (they don’t return until October), the government rattles out a series of important decisions which cannot be debated. Gordon Brown’s promise to respect parliamentary democracy didn’t last very long.
Thus, without consultation or discussion, the defence secretary announced that Menwith Hill, the listening station in Yorkshire, will be used by the United States for its missile defence system(2). Having been dragged by the Bush administration into two incipient military defeats, the British government has now embraced another of its global delusions.
Des Browne’s note asserted that the purpose of the missile defence system is “to address the emerging threat from rogue states”. This is a claim that only an idiot or a member of the British government could believe. If, as Browne and Bush maintain, the system is meant to shoot down intercontinental missiles fired by Iran and North Korea (missiles, incidentally, that they do not and might never possess), why are its major components being installed in Poland and the Czech Republic? To bait the Russian bear for fun? In June, Vladimir Putin called Bush’s bluff by offering sites for the missile defence programme in Azerbaijan and southern Russia, which are much closer to Iran(3). Bush turned him down and re-stated his decision to build the facilities in eastern Europe, making it clear that their real purpose is to shoot down Russian missiles.
Nor is it strictly true to call this a defence system. Russia has around 5700 active nuclear warheads(4). The silos in Poland will contain just 10 interceptor missiles. The most likely strategic purpose of the missile defence programme is to mop up any Russian or Chinese missiles which had not been destroyed during a pre-emptive US attack. Far from making the world a safer place, its purpose is to make the annihilation of another country a safer proposition.
This strategic purpose takes second place to a more immediate interest. Because it doesn’t yet work, missile defence is the world’s biggest pork barrel. The potential for spending is unlimited. First a number of massive – and possibly insuperable – technical problems must be overcome. Then it must constantly evolve to respond to the counter-measures Russia and China will deploy: multiple warheads, dummy missiles, radar shields, chaff, balloons and God knows what. For the US arms industry, technical failure means permanent commercial success.
Bush’s missile defence programme almost certainly means the end of the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty as well, and the cancellation of any successor to the strategic offensive reductions treaty (which expires in 2012). Asked whether this might be the beginning of a new cold war, Putin replied “Of course we are returning to those times. It is clear that if a part of the US nuclear capability turns up in Europe, and, in the opinion of our military specialists will threaten us, then we are forced to take corresponding steps in response … We are not the ones who are initating the arms race in Europe.”(6) Like the war with Iraq, the US missile defence programme exacerbates the threats it claims to confront.
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