Monday, February 12, 2007

Cold War 2 or how Russia manages to upset things once again

AOG, Madrid

U.S. plans to deploy parts of an anti-missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic have become a fresh irritant in US-Russian relations. Washington says the system is needed for defence against rockets launched by Iran and North Korea - an argument rejected by Moscow. Russia is wary of US missiles close to its borders.

Who is at fault?

NATO should heed Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for talks about a U.S. missile shield to be built in formerly communist eastern Europe, German Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler said on Monday.

Russian premier Vladimir Putin used this weekend's high-profile security conference in Munich to accuse the US of sparking a new arms race by trying to become the world's "one single master", a speech U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman said smacked of Cold War rhetoric.

Putin, understandably, has attacked the missile shield to be located in Poland and the Czech Republic and has warned that enlargement of NATO was "a serious factor provoking reduced mutual trust". Nothing new perhaps, except that now Russia is more powerful and influential than it was, say, 5 years ago.
Russia 2007 is resurgent, mostly due to its being flush with oil and gas money. It has paid off its debts and is thus no longer corsetted by the constraints of international financial organizations. Putin is tightening controls at home, increasingly bullying its neighbors and acting almost reflexively antagonistic to American interests around the world. The US needs Russian support abroad but it is finding it hard to get. Russia, erratically perhaps, has been seen more intent to cooperate with countries such as Iran than to join the West and give more aplomb to UN resolutions and international pressure.

Should the US antagonise its former rival further?

Washington has suggested the shield in question is needed to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, however Moscow believes Washington and its NATO allies are building the shield because of Russia- if not that, then certainly they are being built too close to home. The Warsaw pact died a long time ago, however NATO is still running strong and it has declined on numerous occassions to allow Russia in. Russia sees a nuclear threat on its border once again. Only this time, they have not provoked it. There is no Cold War in 2007.

"I think it would make sense to take the Russian president's comments about the perception of NATO seriously" Germany's Erler said.

Although NATO has had years of good cooperation with Russia-especially in the former Yugoslavia- Putin fears the missile shield would "bring NATO capabilities closer to the Russian border and this without any intensive discussions or negotiations with Russia", Erler said.

"There is something that needs to be clarified here, namely what actually is the relationship between NATO and Russia". It was also important to consider whether talks could avoid any irritation on Russia's part so that Moscow would not take any military steps that would lead to a new arms race, he said.

The idea of negotiating the missile shield with Russia would not be pleasant for the Czech Republic. Czechs remain suspicious of Putin's Russia and fear the new Moscow wants to make old Russia a dominant power in Europe the way the Soviet Union once was. After all, same country, different name.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg shrugged off Moscow''s criticisms. "Demands from other states will not influence our government" Schwarzenberg told the Munich conference, adding it was "an internal issue" for Prague. So is Russia to believe that the Czech republic is under threat from Iran? Poland too? But not Italy, Greece, Portugal or Spain?

No new Cold War

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told reporters that Berlin did not see Putin's speech as a sign that Russia was trying to revive Cold War animosities.

After Putin''s speech Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the Russian president was trying to provoke Washington, saying it was a call for thought and dialogue. Perhaps the West should take heed. America's recent foreign policy has more than paved the way for Russia to increase its sphere of influence, especially over former Soviet client-states such as Iran.

Erler said he viewed Putin's speech in the context of Russia's search for its proper place on the international stage- whatever this might be- its increasing self-confidence and the increasing significance of its vast oil and gas resources.

Well, naturlich! If anyone thought that 1991 was the end of Russia, they were very mistaken. It is only a matter of time before that particular Bear begins to flex its muscle once again. Europe and the US should be prepared for what looks to be an aggressive power in search of influence and prestige.

1 comment:

Marti said...

I couldn't find an email addy, so I'll just respond here. I read your comment about trans people over at BoxTurtle Bulletin. I just wanted to post my response over here, because I'm not sure you'd read the response, otherwise.

YNOT, I'm sorry, but as far as hate crimes legislation, we're all faggots when someone is trying to kill us. Same with employment discrimination. It's pretty sad that you feel more of an urgency to separate transgender people from gays and lesbians than to fight against intolerance. And as I said over at my blog, if you're white and gay, Stonewall isn't your history (The Stonewall Inn was frequented mainly by Latinos and African Americans). Look up the names Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Stonewall wasn't raided because of all the nice normal homosexuals there. It was raided because of the gender variance of the clientèle.

Homosexuality wasn't even the issue with the Compton Cafeteria riots. The Compton riots started because transwomen weren't allowed into the gay bars because cross dressing was a crime then.

Even your example of black civil rights, misses the boat. Gays and lesbians were marching, protesting, and fighting for African American's civil rights. Your comment seems to imply that because you don't have any gender dysphoria, that our fight is not the same. But there are plenty of transfolk that are gay and bi (I'm one of the bi ones myself). The March on Washington was organized by Bayard Rustin, A black OUT homosexual.

Our fight should be centered on intolerance, not saying "hey hetros, we're JUST LIKE YOU!" I think Bayard said it best...

"The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly mainifest that hate. That's our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment." - Time on Two Crosses --The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin