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Forum LockedU.S. Sees Much to Fear in a Hostile Russia

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    Posted: 22-Aug-2008 at 08:21
The president of Syria spent two days this week in Russia with a shopping list of sophisticated weapons he wanted to buy. The visit may prove a worrisome preview of things to come.

If Russia’s invasion of Georgia ushers in a sustained period of renewed animosity with the West, Washington fears that a newly emboldened but estranged Moscow could use its influence, money, energy resources, United Nations Security Council veto and, yes, its arms industry to undermine American interests around the world.

Although Russia has long supplied arms to Syria, it has held back until now on providing the next generation of surface-to-surface missiles. But the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, made clear that he was hoping to capitalize on rising tensions between Moscow and the West when he rushed to the resort city of Sochi to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev.

The list of ways a more hostile Russia could cause problems for the United States extends far beyond Syria and the mountains of Georgia. In addition to escalated arms sales to other anti-American states like Iran and Venezuela, policy makers and specialists in Washington envision a freeze on counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation cooperation, manipulation of oil and natural gas supplies, pressure against United States military bases in Central Asia and the collapse of efforts to extend cold war-era arms control treaties.

“It’s Iran, it’s the U.N., it’s all the counterterrorism and counternarcotics programs, Syria, Venezuela, Hamas — there are any number of issues over which they can be less cooperative than they’ve been,” said Angela E. Stent, who served as the top Russia officer at the United States government’s National Intelligence Council until 2006 and now directs Russian studies at Georgetown University. “And of course, energy.”

Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and the chief Russia adviser for Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said Russia appeared intent on trying to “disrupt the international order” and had the capacity to succeed. “The potential is big because at the end of the day, they are the hegemon in that region and we are not and that’s a fact,” Professor McFaul said.

Russia may yet hold back from some of the more disruptive options depending on how both sides play these next few weeks and months. Many in Washington hope Russia will restrain itself out of its own self-interest; Moscow, for instance, does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, nor does it want the Taliban to regain power in Afghanistan. Dmitri Rogozin, a hard-liner who serves as Russia’s ambassador to NATO, told the newspaper Izvestia this week that Moscow still wanted to support the alliance in Afghanistan. “NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan would not be good for us,” he said.

Moscow may also be checked by the desire of its economic elite to remain on the path to integration with the rest of the world. The main Russian stock index fell sharply in recent days, costing investors $10 billion — many with close ties to the circle of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

Still, although the confrontation over Georgia had been building for years, the outbreak of violence demonstrated just how abruptly the international scene can change. Now Russia is the top focus in Washington and some veteran diplomats fret about the situation spiraling out of control.

“Outrage is not a policy,” said Strobe Talbott, who was deputy secretary of state under President Clinton and is now the president of the Brookings Institution. “Worry is not a policy. Indignation is not a policy. Even though outrage, worry and indignation are all appropriate in this situation, they shouldn’t be mistaken for policy and they shouldn’t be mistaken for strategy.”

For Washington, there are limited options for applying pressure. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, wants to throw Russia out of the Group of 8 major powers. Such a move would effectively admit the failure of 17 years of bipartisan policy aimed at incorporating Russia into the international order.

Yet Washington’s menu of options pales by comparison to Moscow’s. Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said “there’s a lot more” that the United States needed from Russia than the other way around, citing efforts to secure old Soviet nuclear arms, support the war effort in Afghanistan and force Iran and North Korea to give up nuclear programs. “Hence Russia has all the leverage,” she said.

In forecasting Russia’s potential for causing headaches, most specialists look first to Ukraine, which wants to join NATO. The nightmare scenario circulating in recent days is an attempt by Moscow to claim the strategic Crimean peninsula to secure access to the Black Sea. Ukrainian lawmakers are investigating reports that Russia has been granting passports en masse to ethnic Russians living in Crimea, a tactic Moscow used in the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to justify intervention to protect its citizens.

Arms sales, as Mr. Assad’s visit underscored, represent another way Russia could create problems. Israeli and Western governments have already been alarmed about reports that the first elements of the Russian-built S-300 antiaircraft missile system are now being delivered to Iran, which could use them to shoot down any American or Israeli planes that seek to bomb nuclear facilities should that ever be attempted.

While Mr. Rogozin expressed support for assisting NATO in the war in Afghanistan, other officials have warned darkly about cutting off ties with NATO. The two sides have already effectively suspended any military cooperation programs. But Russia could also revoke its decision in April to allow NATO to send nonlethal supplies overland through its territory en route to Afghanistan.

Russia could also turn up pressure on Kyrgyzstan to evict American forces that support operations in Afghanistan and could block any large-scale return to Uzbekistan, which expelled the Americans in 2005. “The argument would be, ‘Why help NATO?’ ” said Celeste A. Wallander, a Russia scholar at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

Even beyond the dispute over Iran, Russia could obstruct the United States at the United Nations Security Council on a variety of other issues. Just last month, Russia vetoed sanctions against Zimbabwe’s government, a move seen as a slap at Washington.

“If Russia’s feeling churlish, they can pretty much bring to a grinding halt any kind of coercive actions, like economic sanctions or anything else,” said Peter D. Feaver, a former strategic adviser at the National Security Council.

Russia could also accelerate its withdrawal from arms control structures. It already has suspended the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty to protest American missile defense plans and threatened to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Renewed tension could fray a recently signed civilian nuclear cooperation agreement and doom negotiations to extend soon-to-expire strategic arms control verification programs.

“Ironically, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there’s always been the concern about Russia becoming a spoiler,” said Ms. Stent, of Georgetown, “and now we could see the realization of that.”



http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/world/europe/22policy.html?hp
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2008 at 08:48
The US has plenty to fear from Russia as it come do much more harm beyond the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc as obviously stated and not to mention it seems to be trying to to create more influence to counter the United States and the West in the World as a whole along with China. Also Europe as both a short term and long term need to fear a resurgent Russia, as Russia con have much influence on the flow of energy in region as well as posing a military threat as well. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2008 at 10:22
We can only be safe in the knowledge that Iceland doesn't need power from mainland Europe.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2008 at 14:24
Russia must sell influence in international politics just as much as any other power.  You cannot do that if you are considered weak.
 
Russia is not about to be seen as weak any longer.  Understandable.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2008 at 14:28
Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:

The US has plenty to fear from Russia as it come do much more harm beyond the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc as obviously stated and not to mention it seems to be trying to to create more influence to counter the United States and the West in the World as a whole along with China. Also Europe as both a short term and long term need to fear a resurgent Russia, as Russia con have much influence on the flow of energy in region as well as posing a military threat as well. 
 
Nothing new here really.  A balance of power is almost as natural as water seeking its own level...well, maybe not in a physical sense, but the "balance" principle will return as historical experience seems to show.
 
I do not think the US "fears" Russia as does Europe. 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2008 at 02:47
Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:

The US has plenty to fear from Russia as it come do much more harm beyond the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc as obviously stated and not to mention it seems to be trying to to create more influence to counter the United States and the West in the World as a whole along with China. Also Europe as both a short term and long term need to fear a resurgent Russia, as Russia con have much influence on the flow of energy in region as well as posing a military threat as well. 
 
Smile  But the real question is why Russia is doing this?  It's just because it sees much to fear in a hostile US !
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2008 at 03:41
Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:

Although Russia has long supplied arms to Syria, it has held back until now on providing the next generation of surface-to-surface missiles. But the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, made clear that he was hoping to capitalize on rising tensions between Moscow and the West when he rushed to the resort city of Sochi to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev.

The list of ways a more hostile Russia could cause problems for the United States extends far beyond Syria and the mountains of Georgia. In addition to escalated arms sales to other anti-American states like Iran and Venezuela, policy makers and specialists in Washington envision a freeze on counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation cooperation, manipulation of oil and natural gas supplies, pressure against United States military bases in Central Asia and the collapse of efforts to extend cold war-era arms control treaties.


well, the smart commentators already stated that the US needed Russia in the ME, they were holding back the missile sales as leverage. outside of China the only source of decent military tech was Russia, better to limit their involvement one would think.Bush spat the dummy, signed on the Poles and now you have missiles going to the Syria and Iran. This was so predictable yet deflating to see this actaully happen. I knew they held back the s300 SAM's for Iran and guessed that they (and other SAM's) was going to surface as Washington made all that noise, the iskander missiles to Syria was a bit of a surprise. Israel doesn't like it? tough they were a part of the Caspian push anyway.

It so much easier for the US/UK to just let the Russian walk in and slap them on the wrist lightly. Divide the Caspian as theirs, Persian gulf as mine and let everyone else get screwed. Washington cant control access both energy fields, that will start a fight, this shouldn't be a 'winner takes all' world.



Edited by Leonidas - 23-Aug-2008 at 03:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bankotsu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2008 at 08:11

Full spectrum dominance


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 02bburco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2008 at 14:20
In modern times the US has nothing to fear from Russia as Putin (who still really controls things) despite his matcho hard man image is not stupid enough to anatagonize the US as the result for the world would be catastrophic i.e. WW3 nuclear holocaust ect. Conversly the US reaction will be similar, they will verbally oppose Russian policy but not provoke them. the ONLY way any find of war would start is if Russia did a georgia through the eastern block area (maybe)
 
but above that if Russia started on the US the block of the western world would come to its aid and russia would stand no chance.
 
therefore the US has nothing to fear from russia for two reasons
 
1. Russia will start a war with such servere consequences (see above)
2. Russia is isolated wereas the US has many allies so would win any war      
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2008 at 15:06
they both can destroy each other without the EU opening its mouth. But on a level conventional warfare the Russians dont stand much of chance but no side is picking  direct fight.

This is just shadow boxing with local puppets
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 02bburco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2008 at 16:07

surely two of the words supperpowers wouldnt be able to destroy each other without the rest of the world doing anything, if not the EU then surely NATO which is design to prevent such things.

 
I agree with you about the likley outcome and the current shadow boxing analogy  
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