Saturday, February 09, 2008

Don't Poke The Bear

By Cernig

SecDef Bob Gates told reporters today that he believes Russia wants to resolve sensitive security disputes with the United States, including proposed missile defenses in central Europe.
``I think that regardless of what's said in public, I think there is still an interest (in Moscow) in pursuing the dialogue, and we are doing that,'' he said.
And you know what? He's right.

Western media outlets have been full of how Russia is "ditching Cold War pacts" like the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) from 1992 and threatening to stop adhering to the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. Bad Russkis, bad!

But Vlad Putin, whatever one may think of his authoritarian streak, is plain right when he says that ""It is already clear that a new phase in the arms race is unfolding in the world...It is not our fault, because we did not start it." Undermentioned or ignored by Western media are the following:

- it all started because Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty so he could build his missile shield. Of course the Russians are worried about this. For one thing, Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is correct when he says that this expansion of the US missile defense system from American territory to northeast Asia and to European nations close to Russia's borders looks very like an attempt to encircle Russia and reduce it's own deterrent ability. It doesn't look good that influential neocon think-tanks are pushing for the Bush administration to overturn treaties against weaponry in space either.

- Bush has said he won't renew the INF treaty either, which is partly why the Russians won't. The Russians say they are happy to renew the treaty if the US will re-ratify the ABM treaty and this one.

- NATO nations never ratified the CFE treaty and Russia has only said it will pull out until NATO does ratify it. The eastern bloc nations which include Russia been keeping to it unilaterally since 1999.

Despite it being the Bush administration and NATO nations who began all the recent tension, if Gates pulls of any deal at all he'll get the credit for taming the Bear and have have won the easiest PR victory in history. All because the media didn't remember Putin's admonishment: "Let's not talk as if on one side we are dealing with pure, white and fluffy partners and on the other side with a monster that has just left the forest."

Update Who's the adult in the room here?
Russia and the United States must take leadership in discussions on a new international arms regime, Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Sunday.

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Ivanov referred to the control and reduction of nuclear weapons, adding it was time to replace an existing SALT 1 arms limitation treaty with a new regime:

"As I see it, this is precisely an area of international relations where Russia and the United States not merely could, but are directly obliged to show leadership.

"Sooner or later, we will have to start working in a multilateral format since none of us here, I am sure, has any doubts about the importance of multilateral barriers to WMD (weapons of mass destruction) proliferation," he said.

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