Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

While driving around in my car on Thursday evening I heard a rather disturbing story on NPR's All Things Considered: tensions between the United States and Russia are ratcheting up, the relationship between the two countries worsening to a level of antipathy unseen in decades. As Gregory Feifer explains,

Deteriorating ties between the White House and the Kremlin in recent months have prompted talk of a new Cold War. Some foreign policy analysts say that's because Moscow doesn't share Western values -- which Western countries have been slow to understand. [emphasis added]

You can listen to the entire story on the link above, but suffice it to say that there is mounting evidence that the Bush administration has been shockingly negligent in dealing with Russia -- an argument I have forwarded a couple of times (here and here) in recent weeks. Yet another example of this worrisome trend comes across the AP wires this afternoon with an article by Steve Gutterman.

A top Kremlin diplomat warned against threatening Iran with sanctions or the use of force, saying that would only aggravate the international standoff over Tehran's suspect nuclear program, Russian media reports said Saturday.

For all of the time that the right spends lionizing Ronald Reagan for "ending the Cold War and defeating Soviet Russia" (a claim whose dubiousness I will not deal with in this post) it's very surprising that conservatives are giving George W. Bush and the Republican Congress a pass for allowing Russia to try to dictate American foreign policy. Remember, it was not that long ago that the central tenet of the Republican Party was fighting Russia influence around the world, particularly when it was in direct opposition to American policy.

I believe that a very credible case can be made that the Republican Party cannot be trusted when it comes to dealings with Russia. And this argument is not limited to George W. Bush's excessively soft stance towards Vladimir Putin. Don't forget that Russian oligarchs have been funneling millions of dollars into Republican lobbying firms and cozying up to high ranking GOP lawmakers like Tom DeLay and Curt Weldon.

America does not need to take such an aggressive stance towards Russia that another Cold War does ensue. All the same, America cannot afford to continue the policy of the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress by forgetting Russia, allowing the former superpower to dominate its smaller neighbors and interfere in the Middle East on behalf of Iran, Hamas and others -- and it's right time a leading Democrat said as much.

Tags: George W. Bush, National Security, Republicans, russia (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

Good thing our Secretary of State is a "Russian Expert"!

by Fran for Dean 2006-04-22 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

I know I've cited this before, but a couple of grafs from article from The Economist in late 2000 bear repeating.

But if [Condi Rice] deserves credit for [acting forcefully on German reunification], she deserves blame for a comparable failure: America's early underestimation of Boris Yeltsin. During Mr Yeltsin's first trip to the United States in 1989, she overruled the advice of the American embassy in Moscow on how to treat him. Instead of being ushered in to see the president through the front door of the White House, the Russian leader merely saw Mr Bush senior during a stop-by visit at the National Security Council.

This slight culminated in a more fundamental failure: while America was still hoping that Mr Gorbachev could reform the Soviet system, Russia and the rest were declaring independence. Any fool could see the Soviet Union was collapsing. It took the real brainboxes of the Bush White House to get on the wrong side of history.

So much for her "expertise."

by Jonathan Singer 2006-04-22 02:08PM | 0 recs
Taylor?

Isn't it Charles Taylor in NC-11that owns a bunch of crooked banks in Russia?  I guess there is a little conflict of interest there.

by Robert P 2006-04-22 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

The CW is that the Soviet Union collapsed because of the Reagan military build up. Another view is that the Afganistan quagmire weakened the Soviet military and created the opening for popular unrest.

But the thesis that I find the most plausible is that the fall of real commodity prices to historial lows devastated the resource based Soviet economy and that opened all the fissures in the society.

Now with commodity prices rebounding in real terms since 2000 (its still below what it was in the late 70s in real terms - inflation adjusted) the Russian economy is the strongest it has been in decades. Russia now has a trade surplus, growing dollar reserves (means it lends us money for our plasma TVs) and a booming stock and bond market. The Russian stabilization fund which was created after the rouble crisis from oil revenues is growing rapidly each month and is over $60 billion right now.

Putin has consolidated his role and power by essentially taking over all the resources particularly oil & natural gas. Russia is now the largest supplier of nat. gas to Europe.

Money talks. Russia is now rebuilding its military and modernizing its arms industry. It is building a strategic alliance with China, supplying both natural resources and military technology. Russia and China are also developing increasing closer ties to Iran.

While we go ever deeper into debt and get into military quagmires that drain our treasury, our main strategic competitors, Russia and China, quietly are increasing cash reserves and rebuilding and modernizing their military and diplomatic alliances.

by ab initio 2006-04-22 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

The rise of Russia at the expense of USA is damn simple to understand.  On one hand we have a guy who speaks several languages fluently (Putin) and obviously paid attention in school.  On the other hand, we have a mouth-breathing moron who scammed his way through every class he had.

Putin gives press conferences in German in Germany.  Bush cannot hold a legitimate press conference in English in USA.  USA imports oil.  Russia exports oil.

Exactly HOW is the USA supposed to `deal' with Russia?  We cannot threaten them--they still have thousands of nukes.  We cannot persuade them to do anything--they think our leaders are WAY out of their depth and will not take them seriously.  We send Rice, our Ph.D. Russia `expert' who we are assured is `fluent' in Russian--she cannot hold a simple exchange with Russian school children.

Besides, Hamas and the current Iranian leaders have been legitimately selected by their supporters--why exactly should we talk the Russians out of supporting them?

"The CW is that the Soviet Union collapsed because of the Reagan military build up."

Anyone who sincerely believes that the election or "leadership" of Reagan had anything to do with the rise of Gorbechev to power, or almost anything he did a Premiere of USSR, is seriously delusional.  I had dinner in 1981 with some high State Deaprtment bureaucrats and the whole group together didn't even know who Suslov was, nor his relationship to Andropov, nor Gorbechev, his fair-haired (?) boy.  

And it was our brilliance that caused Gorbechev to walk away from the cold war??  (sheesh)

Just remember, in USA utter fools like Marshall Goldman or Pipes Sr. were considered 'Russia experts.'  I have met cab drivers in Finland who knew 100 times as much as these mentally damaged members of academe.

by techno 2006-04-22 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Bush Republicans: Negligent on Russia

The rise of Russia at the expense of USA is damn simple to understand.  On one hand we have a guy who speaks several languages fluently (Putin) and obviously paid attention in school.  On the other hand, we have a mouth-breathing moron who scammed his way through every class he had.

Putin gives press conferences in German in Germany.  Bush cannot hold a legitimate press conference in English in USA.  USA imports oil.  Russia exports oil.

Exactly HOW is the USA supposed to `deal' with Russia?  We cannot threaten them--they still have thousands of nukes.  We cannot persuade them to do anything--they think our leaders are WAY out of their depth and will not take them seriously.  We send Rice, our Ph.D. Russia `expert' who we are assured is `fluent' in Russian--she cannot hold a simple exchange with Russian school children.

Besides, Hamas and the current Iranian leaders have been legitimately selected by their supporters--why exactly should we talk the Russians out of supporting them?

by techno 2006-04-22 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: They WANT a new Cold War

The Bush administration is full of old Cold Warriors - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, etc. Rice, while younger, specialized academically in Cold War era Soviet relations.

The Cold War was good to Republicans and it is the only context in which they can truly understand world events and politics. They both want and need a return to the Cold War. They don't know another
way.

If one uses this theory to look at the foreign policy tracks Bush, et al, have taken over the past 5+ years, the language is similar ("evil empire")to the Cold War and the "us" vs "them" Cold War mentality dominates their policy choices.

"The Onion" ran a story a few years ago titled something like "US hold tryouts for new enemy" because Russia no longer played that role. Of course that was satire, but that is exactly what has happened. The Bushies went in search of "enemies" so they could recreate the Cold War world. Substitute "communist" for "terrorist" and you'd think you were listening to McCarthy or Nixon.

It's deja vu all over again.

by phillydem 2006-04-23 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: They WANT a new Cold War

The Repugs may want a new cold war.  But the Russians are not going to give it to them.

Which is just as well--the Republicans didn't understand the old one all that well.

by techno 2006-04-23 11:10AM | 0 recs
Russian contributions to Repukes

The Repukeliscum have taken money from the Russians.  Hard to believe, of course.  But, more than 1 million dollars in Russian money funded the Family Research Council, which contributed hugely to various republicans.

by dataguy 2006-04-23 05:08AM | 0 recs

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