Saturday, June 09, 2007

Brzezinski on Russia-US relations

Very good piece in Time, here. For a converse view here (Austin Bay)

The gist of which is a litany of sins of both parties. And also that the US bogged down as it is in Iraq really has no leverage with Russia. Has no leverage with much of anything these days, including Bush's own Republican party say on immigration.

The list of the sins for both parties:

Read more

For Russia:
--The War in Chechnya. [I don't think Western audiences realize how brutal this was. It didn't get sufficient coverage in Western press.]
--Repression of internal dissent, targeting Russians outside the country as in Britain
--Cyberwar on Estonia, Playing the Energy Scare Card with W. Europe, Meddling/Threats in Georgia, Ukraine.

--Iraq (our Chechnya as it were)
--Loss of moral standing due to Abu Ghraib, Rendition, Secret Torture Facilities in E. Europe

ZB then correctly points out though that this not necessarily lead to a neo-Cold War. He shrewdly notes major intrinsic weaknesses in the Russian system:
--e.g. massive drop in birthrate; economy built around corruption and high oil prices

One element missing from Brzezinski is that NATO continues to exist as (from the Russian viewpoint) an anti-Russian alliance in Europe. Putin's compromise offers to have missile defense in Azerbaijan or Turkey shows a way forward on this. Of course so far the line from the Bush administration is that they are still going for Poland.

Opening those angles would give the US more room to criticize Russia when needed as opposed to vague threats about boycotting the G8 as McCain proposed last year. Putin is a master politician--you don't survive the KGB and the post Soviet fall era to rest power from oligarchs/Russian mafia by being a softy and he has used both the last two G8 conferences to his advantage.

I agree with Bay that Europe, all of Europe needs a security umbrella organization. I disagree with him on how he things that should look and be implemented but Brezezinski is too vague I think at the end on what this strategic alignment should be.

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