Is the "Orange Revolution" Over?

The much heralded "orange revolution" of a year and a half ago marked a hopeful turn towards the West in countries that were once solidly in the "Soviet-sphere." But now Russia is actively undermining these Democratic movements raising the question whether any of their gains were permanent.

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Balance of Power in the Next World Order

Not only is the Next World Order already here, we're already seeing a typical example of how power plays will be executed in it.  

Under the fold: lions and tigers and bears, oh my!...

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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.

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While Bush Fiddles, Russia Reemerges

Although the public is beginning to come around on national security, actually favoring the Democrats over  on the issue, the media still seems stuck on the meme that the Republicans are more competent on foreign affairs than the Democrats or simply ignoring the Democrats' case that their ideas on strengthening America are more effective than those of the Republicans. Just this week, for instance, the Cynthia McKinney fracas garnered "a mention on the front page of The New York Times, something that the dozens of House and Senate Democrats combined couldn't match when they unveiled their homeland-security plan last week," as Josephine Hearn notes in The Hill.

There has been some pushback recently, however, as Democrats try to force the media to pay attention to their argument. On "Meet the Press" last week, retired General Anthony Zinni called on Donald Rumsfeld to resign, a call that is seconded by retired Lieutenant General Greg Newbold in this week's issue of Time. What's more, serious questions about President Bush's stance towards Russia -- which I raised a couple of weeks ago -- finally seem to be winding up in newspapers. For example, Steven R. Weisman writes the following in The New York Times Week in Review under the headline "Just When It's Needed, Russia's Not There."

The most recent complaints about Russia are that it blocked a strong United Nations Security Council move against Iran, and has reached out to Hamas while most of the West is turning its back.

In addition, the days of the United States' being welcome to set up shop in the old Soviet empire are gone; Mr. Putin's government is working with Central Asian countries to push American forces out. It has placed new curbs on Western investment in energy. Worse, it has used its spigot on piped natural gas as a club to reward allies (like Belarus) and punish less obedient countries (like Ukraine).

President Bush's top aides have come to dread what Mr. Putin might do when he plays host to the summit of leading industrial nations in St. Petersburg in July. He could turn it into a grand celebration of Russia's new determination to pursue its own interests, whether his guests like it or not. He has already vented frustration over what he sees as American-led efforts to deny Russia its security interests, and to block its accession to the World Trade Organization.

America expended much too much effort during the second half of the 20th century declawing Soviet Russia -- including a significant amount of money and time during the 1990s to bolster the fledgling Russian democracy -- to allow Russia to become a strategic competitor today simply because our attention has been focused on other areas of the world. Responsible leadership is required out of both the White House and the Congress to ensure that appropriate tabs are kept on Russia and that the situation does not get out of hand in the region, and given the fact that the Republican Party has shown scant willingness to appropriate enough time and energy towards monitoring the activities of Vladimir Putin, America's only choice is to elect a Democratic Congress this fall.

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My Liberal Fantasy: Russ Feingold's 2008 Nomination Acceptance Speech

Good evening, I love New York! Applause. Smiles broadly and waits for silence. And I proudly accept your nomination for President of the United States. Crowd erupts with sustained applause and cheers.

My friends, the time has come for an American renaissance of community, values, and justice. Almost seven years ago in this great city Osama Bin Laden unleashed his terror and the Republican Party unleashed a reign of indecency. Tonight we begin anew in the very city where it all went wrong. We bring hope.

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