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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Russia: The Enemy

Military.com tells it like it is in the following hair-raising analysis:

Russia: The Enemy
Allan Topol November 03, 2006

There was a glorious time when the Berlin Wall came down and Russia seemed headed toward democracy. At long last, the Cold War was over. All things seemed possible.

Thanks first to Boris Yeltsin and now Vladimir Putin, those happy days are in the distant past. So far back we can barely remember our optimism. Democracy is as dead in Russia as the hundreds of thousands who perished at Stalingrad and elsewhere in the Second World War. In its place has come a new autocracy that -- minus the communist rhetoric -- slams the doors of freedom shut all the same.

Those who dare to challenge Putin end up being arrested and put on trial if they’re lucky. If not, they are summarily executed and their killing is dressed up as a robbery attempt. This isn’t to say that there isn’t serious street crime in Russia -- there is. This crime provides a useful cover for those whom the Putin regime wishes to execute.

Notions of a free press or free elections have vanished in the cold Siberian wind of last winter. One difference is that the Russian military has not been restored to anything like its previous power. Putin is a clever man. He doesn’t want to run the risk of having a powerful military which could wrest control of the Kremlin from him.

While the new autocracy is assuming control, Russia as a nation is ailing. It seems absolutely inconceivable that the life expectancy for men in Russia today is only 59 years. Life is so wonderful in post-Soviet Russia that deaths from alcohol are sweeping the country. Those who study population trends love to draw graphs with straight lines through data. Doing that with the Russian male population would lead to the conclusion that within fifty years there won’t be any men left in Russia.

It would be bad enough if the Putin were simply destroying Russian society and its population. However, the damage is not merely domestic. A new threat has emerged to the United States.

I wondered long ago why it was that the bad people are the ones who end up having all the oil and natural gas. Well, here we go again. The Russians have huge reservoirs of both oil and gas. With the high price of energy, petro dollars have been flowing into Russia like water over Niagara Falls.

Those petro dollars are being recycled into arms. In 2005 Russia surpassed the United States as the leader in weapons deals with the developing world. Russia’s weapons deals totaled seven billion dollars in 2005, surpassing the United States for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even more troublesome, Russia sold $700,000 in surface-to-air missiles to Iran and eight new aerial refueling tankers to China, according to a new congressional study.

The arms sales to Iran deeply concern those in the Bush administration trying to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear weapons. What they do is diminish the threat to Iran of an American military strike. Emboldened with their new arms, the ruling mullahs can take much more of a hard line with the Bush administration. Should we resort to a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations, we would risk substantial losses. Thanks a lot Mr. Putin.

The sales to China likewise have a serious impact for Pentagon planners. Taiwan is still an open issue that could flare into a military confrontation with Beijing at any time. The impact of the refueling tankers is to permit the Chinese attack planes and bombers to fly further from Chinese soil, thereby requiring the United States military to operate farther out to sea in dealing with a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

Given this confrontational attitude in the Kremlin, it is unrealistic to think that Russia will be helpful in negotiations with North Korea or Iran. In fact, given the huge volume of business which the Russians are doing with Tehran, they will have every incentive to continue to curry favor with the Iranians by impeding the U.S. efforts to block Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. This makes resort to the United Nations a hopeless endeavor. Likewise, international pressure is doomed to fail. The Iranians can be confident that Russia will block any United States effort.

A new era has in fact dawned in American-Russian relations. This one promises to be no better than the Cold War.

1 comment:

From_Russia said...

I live in Russia and with the full responsibility I declare, that all information on a bad life in Russia, about Putin the dictator - delirium!!! I remember as during time Elcin people eat rats to not starve to death. After Putin Russia has risen from knees... For four years the standard of living of the population has grown for 40 percent. Death rate was replaced by birth rate. Russia has entered in 10 top economy, and in ten years will enter into the five of the best economy of the world!