Russia's Back! Happy?


Russia's back with a vengeance. Is Putin justified in criticizing NATO expansion? Should Russia's neighbors worry?

Posted by Amar C. Bakshi on February 22, 2007 1:21 PM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (92)

Russosceptic :

Is Russia really back?

Consider this: Tiny Georgia managed to rattle the Russian bear by arresting a few Russian spies. In retaliation Russia started an economic war, closing the borders for Georgian products, and Russian exports of gas and oil. Georgians in Russia were arrested and deported, etc. By doing all this, did the Russians force Georgia to get back in line wioth Moscow? No. Georgia thumped it's nose to Russia, changed it's energy supplier (now they're getting their gas from Azerbeidjan), diversified it's economy, and now Russia realised it simply lost it's grip on tiny Georgia.

A few years ago Russia tried to decide who would win the elections in the Ukraine. Result: the anti-Russian and pro-Western candidate won. And so it goes on and on. Russia not only lost it's influence in the former Warsaw-pact countries, it not only lost a huge territory that was once part of the Russian empire, it is also losing it's grip on all these new states in the Caucasus, central Asia and Eastern Europe.

No wonder why they are pushing up the prices for gas and oil in all those countries. Why should they do the favour of delivering cheap energy when their political influence is diminishing or even no longer existing. What a world player are you when you can't even throw around your weight in your own backyard.

And even when they are putting up the prices to a country like Belarus, they can't even get 100% what they want. Look at the deal that was made, Belarus got off on the cheap, sharing the ownership of their pipelines for prices that are way below the market price. Reason? Russia couldn't afford to stop pumping up oil for a few days, it would cost them too much.

Russia's influence on the world stage? Did North Korea care to inform the Russians when they were testing new rockets? They were informing the Chinese of course, but their other neighbour, Russia? Why should they even bother. Do the US care when Russia protests against missile defense systems in Central Europe? No, they take notice odf the protest and don't bother for the rest. What is Russia's influence in the Middle East for the moment? Russia received Hamas leaders recently in Moscow. Did the world notice? Hardly.

Russia's econonmy is grew last year with 6%. Amazing? The Ukrainian economy grew with 7%, several Eastern European countries have the same growth rates. Only, they are doing that without selling oil or gas. Take away high oil prices and Russia's growth rate goes down. A healthy economy? Forget it, they are just like Middle Eastern countries. Rich with their oil, but for the rest no econmy to speak of. Just look at the widespread poverty all over the country.

Russia's military? Apart from their nuclear weapons, it hardly maaters. They are spending as much on defense and weaponry as that other military giant, Germany. If Germany and Russia would decide to have a war, both their armies probably would be stuck somewhere halfway Poland, unable to go much further.

The greatest thread to Russia is their demographic situation. Russians simply are dying off. A few years ago they were with 148 million, now they are with 143 million, over a few years it's projected that they will be with less than 140 million. Not any country on earth is losing it's population as fast as Russia. On top of that, they are bordering the most populous country on earth, with a trhiving economy growing much faster than Russia's with a growth not based on selling off it's natural resources. How on earth are the Russians planning to stop the Chinese influence in Russia's far east. How are they going to prevent an economic and demographic take over of Siberia by the Chinese.

Russia a growing power in the world? Don't make me laugh.

Tom Wonacott :

BobL

Well, I think you are right regarding the dictators of the world. Not all dictators, however, commit genocide. Clinton, who did a reasonable job as President said his biggest regret was his lack of action in the Sudan. He was also responsible for ending the genocide in Bosnia.

Each dictator needs to be evaluated and actions, including sanctions, need to be applied. Intervention (as in a peace-keeping force) might be necessary. This has been the case for Zimbabwe and the Sudan, only, China has undermined sanctions and a military equipment boycott in both countries. Some kind of intervention is required in the Sudan, as over 2 million people have been killed in the last fifteen years including 200,000 (+) in Darfur.

We cannot dispose of all dictators, but the worst need to be dealt with by intervention if necessary. Of course, it would be nice if we received strong support from countries in Europe, and elsewhere (India, for example).

How was Iraq and, for that matter, Iran different? Both are located in the Middle East which is the world-wide leader in terrorism, recruitment of terrorist, funding of terrorist, and harboring of terrorist. Both countries have funded and supported terrorist organizations and, in addition, Iraq invaded two countries. What distinguished Saddam, however, is that he sought and USED WMDs. Iran is seeking nuclear energy (weapons) and has a President that has threatened to annihilate Israel (You might feel safe in Virginia, but the people of Israel have a right to be concerned).

The seventeen resolutions were not passed by the security council for weapons of CONVENTIONAL destruction, but weapons of MASS destruction. He was and would have been a continual threat to reconstitute his program of WMDs (including nuclear if he had access). Saddam was ambitious and clearly a threat to his neighbors and regional stability (Ok, I know what you are going to say...). He was also a threat to the US if he did, and don't forget who would assume power to continue his policies in the event of his death (his sons).

For those reasons, in my opinion, in conjunction with 911, the US disposed of Saddam and tried to install a democracy to the benefit of the Iraqi people. Early cooperation by Saddam could have ended sanctions and the deaths of so many people, and could have kept him in power.

The UN can pass 17000 resolutions but they will not be affective, unless they are enforced. Clearly, the UN and the west lost the will to enforce the conditions for the cease fire which Saddam signed (res. 687), thus the sanctions and bombing(s) were rendered useless. Only after 911, the UN and Saddam realized we were serious (again) and Saddam re-welcomed the inspectors back into Iraq. To late.

OK, Bob, then lets look at the other wars.

Did you support the war in Bosnia which was really a humanitarian mission?

Did you support the war in Kuwait?

Finally, I know you (and I) supported the war in Afghanistan. We disposed of a government for harboring the terrorist that were responsible for 911. So, if Iraq had never happened, would you have supported attacking eastern Pakistan in pursuit of Al Qaeda (Bin Laden)?

BobL-VA :

Tom,

It took Saddam 20 years to kill 3 million people. At the rate Bush is going he'd catch him in 10.

Remember now, this genocidal maniac you're talking about we supported. We didn't care he gassed the Iranians until we were looking for a reason to hate him so we could blow up his country.

And, you are right. Everything since 9/11 has changed. You only left out it has changed for the worse. America just happened to be unlucky enough to have Bush/Cheney in power. All they've done is abuse a bad situation.

Also, no one I know is arguing Saddam should have ever been named humanitarian of the year. Quite the contrary. He was a ruthless dictator. We all agree on this. Where we differ is what should the United States do about ruthless dictators. Let's examine this. You can really only have 3 types. First, they are no threat to us. Second, they are a thorn in our side. Third, they are either guilty of committing an act of war against us or are about to commit and act of war against us.

Since there's probably 50 ruthless regimes in the world we have to apply some standard in which ones we're going to blow up. We obviously don't have the time, troops & munitions to blow them all up. So obviously the standard on who we blow up has to be higher then they are ruthless dictators. Hence, being a ruthless dictator by itself doesn't rise to the level of a pre-emptive war. Nope, we need more then that.

So what was there about Saddam that rose to a higher level or standard? Ah, that's the real question isn't it? All you have left here is he thumbed his nose at the 17,000 UN resolutions that the US pushed through. Hence, almost a million people are dead, the country is in the midst of a civil war and we'll spend a minimum of 2 trillion dollars because Saddam thumbed his nose at the UN? Now there's logic I want to teach my children!

Tom Wonacott :

BobL

"...Saddam was a bad man to his own people and that in and of itself does not rise to the level of invasion...."

Bob, "bad" is when a cat pees in your living room (I love your analogies, Bob). Saddam was a brutal, genocidal dictator responsible for over 3 million deaths, and many were not his own people e.g., Iran and Kuwait.

Saddam was responsible for his own (deserved) fate. Period. Had he cooperated with the inspectors, we wouldn't be having this conversation today, e.g. Libya, Iran(?).

September 11, 2001 changed everything and is the reason that the three years that Iraq went without inspections was so important. The fact, which you want to dismiss, that no WMD's were found is irrelevant, albeit, embarrassing to the intelligence community.

Knox :

I see a lot of references to "men of KGB in power". First of all, there is not KGB for long years. Now it is FSB, so be correct in terms, please. Second, no everybody in power is from so called "KGB". And finally, what is wrong with it?
"KGB" man means that he/she has a good education, good health, a person has a clear file, his/her parents were not alcogol or drug-addicted, he/she is work-efficient, responsible, loyal. I see no bad in that. Gee, I would like to have such an emploee at my company.

Vladymir Sorokin :

This diffrent then by Student. but also Russian opinion.

SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR VLADIMIR SOROKIN
"Russia Is Slipping Back into an Authoritarian Empire"
Russian author Vladimir Sorokin disscusses waning freedom of opinion in his country, the lack of opposition against President Vladimir Putin and dangerous Western ambivalence that is enabling the Kremlin's growing authoritarian tendencies to take root.


DPA
The Russian intelligence agency FSB's headquarters in Moscow
SPIEGEL: Mr. Sorokin, in your new novel "Day of the Oprichnik," you portray an authoritarian Russia ruled by a group of members of the secret police. The story is set in the future, but this future is similar to the past under Ivan the Terrible. Aren't you really drawing parallels to today's Russia?

Sorokin: Of course it's a book about the present. Unfortunately, the only way one can describe it is by using the tools of satire. We still live in a country that was established by Ivan the Terrible.

SPIEGEL: His reign was in the 16th century. The czardom was followed by the Soviet Union, then democracy under (former President Boris) Yeltsin and (current President Vladimir) Putin. Has Russia not yet completed its break with the past?

Sorokin: Nothing has changed when it comes to the divide between the people and the state. The state demands a sacred willingness to make sacrifices from the people.

SPIEGEL: The absolute ruler in your book bears some resemblance to President Vladimir Putin ...

Sorokin: ... which was not my intention. Coming up with a Putin satire wouldn't be very thrilling. I'm an artist, not a journalist. And a novel is not a documentary. In my book, I am searching for an answer to the question of what distinguishes Russia from true democracies.

SPIEGEL: What explanation have you found?


VLADIMIR SOROKIN
Oleg Klimov / Panos PicturesVladimir Sorokin is one of the best- known contemporary authors in Russia. He established his literary reputation in the West with his novels "The Queue," and "Ice." In his latest book, "Day of the Oprichnik," he describes Russia in the year 2028 as a nationalist country ruled with an iron fist that has shut itself off from the West by building a wall. Sorokin: Germans, Frenchmen and Englishmen can say of themselves: "I am the state." I cannot say that. In Russia only the people in the Kremlin can say that. All other citizens are nothing more than human material with which they can do all kinds of things.

SPIEGEL: In old Russian, the word "oprichnik" means "a special one." Do you feel that the divide between the top and the bottom in Russia today can no longer be bridged?

Sorokin: In our country there are special people who are permitted to do anything. They are the sacrificial priests of power. Anyone who is not a member of this group has no clout with the state. One can be as pure as can be -- just as magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky was -- and still lose everything in a flash and end up in prison. The Khodorkovsky case is typical of the "oprichnina" -- the system of oppression I describe.

SPIEGEL: Does a character like Khodorkovsky appear in your book?

Sorokin: Such a parallel didn't occur to me. However, my book does begin with an attack on a rich man. This is almost a daily occurrence nowadays. It has always been that way in Russia. Only those who are loyal to the people in power can become wealthy.

SPIEGEL: How is the elite reacting to the literary images you paint?

Sorokin: The reaction to my book has been tumultuous. But I had no other choice than to put all this on paper. I have been carrying around this wish for a long time, and so it took me only three months to write it.

SPIEGEL: Why did you suddenly feel the need to write this book?

Sorokin: The citizen lives in each of us. In the days of Brezhnev, Andropov, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, I was constantly trying to suppress the responsible citizen in me. I told myself that I was, after all, an artist. As a storyteller I was influenced by the Moscow underground, where it was common to be apolitical. This was one of our favorite anecdotes: As German troops marched into Paris, Picasso sat there and drew an apple. That was our attitude -- you must sit there and draw your apple, no matter what happens around you. I held fast to that principle until I was 50. Now the citizen in me has come to life.

SPIEGEL: Some of your novels are filled with violence. In "Ice," for example, human beings are mistreated with hammers made of ice. Why is Russian society still so preoccupied with violence?


FROM THE MAGAZINE
Find out how you can reprint this DER SPIEGEL article in your publication. Sorokin: As a child I perceived violence as a sort of natural law. In the totalitarian Soviet Union, oppression held everything together. It was the sinister energy of our country. I had that sense by as early as kindergarten and grade school. Later on I wanted to understand why human beings are unable to do without violence. It's a mystery I haven't solved to this day. Yes, violence is my main theme.

SPIEGEL: How is this sinister energy reflected in Russia today?

Sorokin: It is alive in every bureaucrat. Whenever you encounter a minor official, he lets you know that he is above you and that you depend on him. It is reflected in the superpower mentality that nourishes the Kremlin. An empire always demands sacrifices from its people.

SPIEGEL: Criminal proceedings were launched against you five years ago for supposedly pornographic passages in your novel "Blue Bacon Fat." Is censorship about to be reintroduced in Russia?

Sorokin: What happened at the time was an attempt to test writers' steadfastness and the public's willingness to accept open censorship. It didn't work.

SPIEGEL: Did the pressure that was applied to you intimidate other writers?

Sorokin: Certainly. I have Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin to thank that a Russian writer can not only write anything he wants today, but also publish it. I don't know what will happen in the future. The media -- television, newspapers and magazines -- are already controlled by the state today.

SPIEGEL: One of the characters in your book brags "that not just one diplomat was expelled from Moscow, not just one journalist was thrown from the television tower and not just one whistleblower was drowned in the river." When you wrote this you knew nothing about the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Sorokin: I just imagined what would happen to Russia if it isolated itself completely from the Western world -- that is, if it erected a new Iron Curtain. There is much talk about Russia being a fortress. Orthodox churches, autocracy and national traditions are supposed to form a new national ideology. This would mean that Russia would be overtaken by its past, and our past would be our future.

SPIEGEL: How realistic is such a relapse in a globalized world?


AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "The West should be even more vocal in insisting that the Russians respect human rights."
Sorokin: Putin likes to quote a sentence from Czar Alexander III, who said that Russian has only two allies -- the army and the navy. As a citizen, this makes me sit up and take notice. This is a concept of self-imposed isolation, a defense strategy that sees Russia surrounded by enemies. When I turn on the TV I see a general calmly claiming that our missiles are ahead of the latest American models by three five-year plans. It's a nightmare. We are creating a concept of the enemy, just as they did in the Soviet era. This is a giant step backward.

SPIEGEL: You have no confidence in the current Kremlin administration?

Sorokin: This is their fault, not mine. My television teaches me that everything was wonderful in the Soviet Union. According to the programs I watch, the KGB and apparatchiks were angels, and the Stalin era was so festive that the heroes of the day must still be celebrated today.

SPIEGEL: Why is there no opposition from Russia's legendary intelligentsia?

Sorokin: It's astonishing. I can't help but gain the impression that our champions of the freedom of opinion -- writers, emigrants and civil rights activists -- had only one goal in mind: the collapse of the Soviet Union, started by Alexander Solzhenitzyn. And now they are all silent.

SPIEGEL: How do you feel about the former chess world champion, Garry Kasparov, who is trying to build an opposition movement?

Sorokin: I have respect for him and other members of the opposition movement, like former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and (politician) Irina Khakamada. But these politicians do not exist for most people. About the only place you will find them is on the Internet. If a state-owned station were to report tomorrow that Kasyanov was visiting Russian cities and talking to the people, the manager of that station would be looking for a new job the next day.

SPIEGEL: What can be done?

Sorokin: It's pointless to expect change to be ordered from above. The bureaucracy has grown such powerful roots, and corruption is so widespread, that these people have no interest in changing anything.

SPIEGEL: In other words, everything is hopeless?

Sorokin: Everyone must awaken the citizen within himself. The Russian philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev once said that Russia has many ideas and few goods. It was that way throughout the entire 20th century. Only in the last 15 years have the Russians managed to dress up and eat their fill. However, people with full bellies tend become drowsy. This explains, for example, the disinterest among students. In no other country are they as apathetic as they are here.

SPIEGEL: With so much pessimism, do you even like your fellow Russian people?

Sorokin: The word "people" is unpleasant to me. The phrase "Soviet people" was drummed into us from childhood on. I love concrete people, enlightened people who live conscious lives and do not simply sit there and vegetate. To love the people you have to be the general secretary of the Communist Party or an absolute dictator. The poet Josef Brodsky once said: The trees are more important to me than the forest.

SPIEGEL: In your book you describe a wall with which Russia isolates itself from the West. Why is this wall built?


DPA
Mikhail Khodorkovsky: "An empire always demands sacrifices of its people."
Sorokin: After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, former party officials burned their party books and traded in their black Volga limousines for black German-made sedans. That was it. We had no purifying revolution. Neither Communist Party officials nor KGB generals were forced to give up the reins of power. In August 1991, I was in the crowd standing in front of the Lubyanka KGB building when the monument to KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky was toppled. It seemed as if a new era was about to begin. But we underestimated the power of the Soviet Union. It became ingrained in people's consciousness over the course of seven decades. After German reunification, West Germany became a mirror for former East German citizens. We didn't have that.

SPIEGEL: You hold a degree in petroleum engineering. Was the latest confrontation with Belarus over natural gas and oil an expression of Moscow's power politics?

Sorokin: Our government hasn't become accustomed to the fact yet that Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Baltic states -- in fact, the entire former Soviet Union -- are now independent countries. Incidentally, I wrote my thesis on the development of dampers for oil pipelines.

SPIEGEL: Did this expertise come in handy in your book?

Sorokin: Yes, there is a sentence in it that reads: "We shut the damper, as the czar ordered."

SPIEGEL: How should German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, behave in dealing with the Russian government?


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Sorokin: The West should be even more vocal in insisting that the Russians respect human rights. All compromise aside, I ask myself whether Russia is moving in the direction of democracy. I don't believe it is! Bit by bit, Russia is slipping back into an authoritarian empire. The worst thing that can happen to us is indifference in the West -- that is, if it were interested in nothing but oil and gas. I am always surprised when I watch the weather report on German television. First they show the map of Europe and then the camera moves to the right. Then comes Kiev, then Moscow and then everything stops. This seems to be the West's view of us -- of a wild Russia that begins past Moscow, a place one prefers not to see. This is a big mistake. The West must pay closer attention.

SPIEGEL: Does the West understand Russia?

Sorokin: Yes and no. In Russia no one is surprised when an official accepts a bribe while at the same time portraying the state as some sacred entity to which the bourgeois should pay homage. This all sounds absurd to you. But for Russians it is completely normal.

SPIEGEL: There used to be a similar attitude toward the state in Germany. But that changed after the Nazi dictatorship. Nowadays the state plays a more modest role in society, just as it does in America.

Sorokin: That just happens to be democracy. The Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov once said: In a Democracy, portraits of a nation's leader should never exceed the size of a postage stamp. That won't happen so quickly in our country.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Sorokin, we thank you for this interview.

Interview conducted by Martin Doerry and Matthias Schepp.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.


BobL-VA :

Tom,

Sorry, I forgot to sign my previous post. However, you knew who it was.

Anyway, see I told you we wouldn't agree.

I simply fail to see this "threat" of Islamic Terrorists blowing up the world (or us)

Our involvment with Israel has been bad enough for our relations with the Islamic world. By invading and occupying Iraq we've only heightened an already strained relationship. These are not Judo-Christian Western Cultures. They don't even like us. They think we're the unclean and the unwashed. They tolerate us only in the sense they need us economically. Other then that they don't want anything to do with us. They surely don't want our unholy boots on their land.

Our invasion of Iraq has only reinforced their opinion of us. We are creating more terrorists via our actions then we're killing. We're making the world a more dangerous place and that's just plain stupid. So, if you feel safer because we invaded and have occupied Iraq I'm happy for you. I don't. Nor do I buy all the crap about UN resolutions as justification for an invasion. Bush sold this war based on WMD's. He didn't sell it on UN Sanctions. There were no WMD's. Zilch. Nada. Oh, I know. How could Bush have known with all the contradictory intelligence (or lack thereof) floating around at the time? Exactly my point. He didn't have sufficient information to commit US forces to an invasion.

As far as what Saddam did to his own country that's an internal country issue. We have the right to disagree with a country's actions against it's own citizens and apply sanctions, but we do not have the right or the responsibility to shed more blood. If this was the case let's pack up the troops and go blow up Sudan. Oh, I forgot, we don't have any more troops left. Let's draft a few more army groups and send them to Sudan to get ourselves mired down in another winless situation.

At some point you have to face the facts that what Bush has done has been just plain ignorant. I don't care if he had the best motives in the world. An appropriate political cartoon would have Bush sitting behind his desk in the oval office with a dunce cap on with the word Iraq inscribed on it.

Virtually, everything Bush said leading up to the invasion of Iraq has been wrong.

"They have weapons of mass destruction." They didn't.

"They'll open their arms and treat us as liberators." They haven't

"I'm not into nation building." We are

"Saddam has ties to Al Qaeda." He didn't

"Saddam was trying to buy nuclear materials." He wasn't.

"We're not talking about an expensive war." It will be at least 2 trillion before it's over with and that assumes a good outcome.

Every stinking major point has been wrong. The only thing that has turned out to be correct is the UN passed 17,000 Sanctions and resolutions and outside of a few republicans nobody else cares. Hence, if I was you I'd hold on real tight to those resolutions because without them all you'd have left is Saddam was a bad man to his own people and that in and of itself does not rise to the level of invasion.

Tom Wonacott :

BobL

"...I know the Tom Wonacott's of the world really believe we're doing something noble in Iraq. We're protecting America by attacking the evil forces who would bring our society down and challenge our way of life. You know this is a crock and so do I, but they really believe this crap..."

After six months of discussing the issues, and, finally, we disagree.

The conditions that led to war in Iraq:

Iraq was unwilling to conform to a UN mandate (res. 687-Saddam to disarm). Saddam played hide and seek with the inspectors, and did not taking the mandate seriously. Seventeen UN resolutions were passed in all to get Saddam to conform to the ceasefire that he signed. Sanctions resulted in 1,500,000 deaths, 567,000 of which were children. That, all in itself, was a humanitarian crisis, and you and I know that the fault lies on the shoulders of Saddam, who, because he refused to disarm and cooperate with the inspectors, allowed the deaths of so many people. You like to refer to him as a “bad man”, but he was way beyond bad. He was a power hungry, brutal mass murderer deserving to be hung (without a fair trial).


In 1998, Clinton bombed Iraq for Saddam's lack of cooperation and then, INEXPLICABLY, allowed Saddam to keep out inspectors for the last two years of his Presidency. So Bob, tell me, why did he bomb Iraq in the first place?

The humanitarian oil for food program came in to existence in 1996(?) because the world recognized that Saddam was doing fine, only the Iraqi people (mostly Shia) were suffering. The oil for food program deteriorated to the "oil for food scandal" which, in a few years time, had canceled the affect of the sanctions. So when Bush took office, there were no inspections, probably no resolve to have inspections and rampant scandals associated with the UN oil for food program.


Saddam was given the impression (rightly) that the West (especially the US under Clinton) and the UN did not have the resolve to enforce their own mandate. After 10 years, no one knew, for sure, what the state of Saddam’s weapons program was. Clinton did a good job from 1993-1998 containing Iraq, but totally screwed up his last two years. So, in effect, he passed the whole mess to President Bush to solve. What are friends for?

Between the UN scandal, and the West’s lack of resolve, and, thus a failure of peaceful (diplomatic) means to disarm Saddam, the conditions for a war were put in place. That is the price of diplomatic failure. Saddam would, inevitably, be a threat to his neighbors, and a threat to regional stability had we allowed him to continue unwatched. He also attempted to assassinate Bush senor and had given millions to terrorist groups, so he could have been a threat to US security in the future.

Fully 70% of the American people were behind the invasion of Iraq. Although I have said this a dozen times, it bears repeating. Even after discovering there were no WMD's, Bush was re-elected in 2004. Most Americans believed that the installation of Democracy in the heart of the birthplace of modern terrorism, and the overthrow of a brutal, non cooperative dictator was the right course of action.


I fully believe that the decision to invade was moral and right, however, even supporters of the war have seen a strategic (regional) nightmare unfold, thus one of the main reasons, I believe, as do most sane people, that we cannot just up and leave, is the regional problems that the war could cause.

Now, you would bring the troops home tomorrow regardless of how many people died because of a civil war, or because of a regional war because your whole goal is to punish US policy. In my opinion, there is nothing that you want to see more than for the US to fail in Iraq, not because you are anti American, Bob, but because you are against this kind of US policy. This must be true for the US undertakings in Bosnia (humanitarian) and Kuwait, as well, because neither met your definition of when a war is necessary. Both wars must have been gut twisting to you since they were successful.

If the goal is to reduce the possibility of war, then the (similar) circumstances which led to war in Iraq must be addressed regarding Iran. Iran is developing nuclear energy (weapons) and is ignoring UN mandates and sanctions. Only a strong, unified stance by the world, can lead to a diplomatic solution. Without it, then the conditions for more Middle East conflicts will be present.

"...We could be investing in our futures and showing the world through example the good qualities of a democracy..."

Speak about a crock. Weren't we the largest supplier of food and other humanitarian goods to the people of Afghanistan before 911? What an example.

"...It's really time we started embracing other cultures instead of trying to change them..."

This statement makes no sense to me unless you think we should embrace terrorism and brutal dictators, and, as far as I know, neither is a culture. The US and the rest of the democratic world need to stand up to dictators who "embrace" murder and genocide as a means to "stabilize" their diverse populations such as in Iraq or the Sudan.

I really think that the world is still a very dangerous place especially as we see the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The conditions that led to WWII are not present today, but people have not changed and although we have a global economy, that's not comforting to the victims of politically motivated, civilian targeted terrorism (such as 911, or the bombings in Spain, or the bombings in India, etc.).

Fundamentalist, Islamic terrorism has reached world-wide, epidemic proportions, and, no, not due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks for the post, and sorry for the length of this response.

daniel :

To anonymous from Daniel. You write "it's time we started embracing other cultures instead of trying to change them". Embrace them with what anonymous? If there is nothing to embrace them with how can we keep from turning into so many of the troubled areas of the world? You also say we should act like adults and that we are now acting as children. But adults are stronger and more capable than children. How is your position one of greater strength? You speak of becoming more adult in other words and embracing other cultures, but it seems rather you expect us to become children and just rush into the arms of other cultures. You strike me as just another liberal that views all cultures as equivalent--a multiculturalist in other words...Of course if all cultures are equivalent then of course it matters little where the focal point of power is in the world--or even if there is a focal point at all. But the problem is all cultures are not the same and it does matter where the focal point of power is--especially in a world of rampant technological advance leading to environmental destruction not to mention WMD attack. I am not saying the U.S. should act unilaterally,--in fact I am saying the U.S., Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India should align to prevent the chaos which will surely increase in a world of multipolarity...One must be sensible. Liberals are all too often naive. Of course things are easier if one believes man to be good rather than evil and that all cultures are the same...Why really bother with politics at all in such a situation, for that is essentially the definition of an easily self-correcting humanity, etc. That should be all to inspire a few basic reflections....

Salamon :

Anonymus;

You are right that China was not a superpower in today's sense, however, it was the richest most advanced society on earth at about 1400-1500, with expeditions to Arctic Seas, Africa, armadas which the world did not see for another 2-300 years, etc.

You are correct the political class of the USA is the USA's citizens greatest enemy.

Daniel:

A country which owes the world more than its annual GDP and has a net balance of approx 7% of annual GDP is not a rich society, it is a society which puts its children in pawn shops for security.

Anonymous :

Salamon,

You wrote,

"While it is true that there is a shortage of SUPERPOWERS re-estabglishing themselves in history, there is an exception: China - possibly the greatest power for 4-500 years til the opinum wars - Is arising yet again."

Ah, I beg to differ my friend. China was a regional power for thousands of years, but a super power it was not. China has more international influence today then at any point in their dynasties.

Strong dominating countries have come and gone over the history of civilization. Unfortunately, each and every one of them, including ourselves feel we're invincible. History has taught us no one is invincible and we're not the exception.

Currently, America's worst enemy is America. It's not the Iraqi's and it surely isn't the "Dreaded Terrorists."

As long as our nation is willing to fight useless conflicts and waste our resources doing it we will never be great. (we may be the last remaining superpower today, but without knowing how to use that power wisely greatness will never follow) Right now we're just a bully and we all know the bully hasn't been born who won't get their butt kicked sooner or later.

I know the Tom Wonacott's of the world really believe we're doing something noble in Iraq. We're protecting America by attacking the evil forces who would bring our society down and challenge our way of life. You know this is a crock and so do I, but they really believe this crap. Until a majority of Americans come to understand we can't go flying around the globe beating up on made up enemies we'll always be a second rate superpower at best. We're squandering our resources on death and destruction while we could be using our resources for assisting nations in need with medicine, food, education, etc. We could be investing in our futures and showing the world through example the good qualities of a democracy. Instead we're starting civil wars and occupying other nations. We're having torture debates. We're telling the world we don't have to live up to the Geneva Accords. We're setting up StarChambers to hold and convict people of crimes they can't even begin to defend themselves from because they can't confort their accusers or even look at the evidence. Rule of Law, what law? What a waste!

It's really time we started embracing other cultures instead of trying to change them. Force should always be a last resort and should only be used if another group or country has committed an act of war against us or there is compelling evidence they are about to. (no, there was no compelling evidence in Iraq)

Basically, we need to grow up and start acting like adults.

Salamon :

TOM:

When the largest circulation newspaper [in all major cities] is owned by a Zionist Jewish family, then the politician follows the line of said publisher/ owner. In Canada you do not need the internet to read AEI, or David Frum of "axis of evil fame" we get their convulted junk daily in our "NATIONAL".

Of course, the other reason is that Canadian Conservative politicians like to kiss the A** of your Decider, who is doing all in his power to destroy the USA's moral standing, army, and economy.

It does not matter who tries to and does buy your federal politicians, whether it is Mr. Soros, or friends of Sen Lieberman, be it EXXON, or BOEING, Halliburton it all comes down to the fact that the POLITICIAN IS PURCHASED TO REFLECT THE INTEREST OF THE PURCHASER.

If you did not have the obscene K-Street, perhaps your "democracy" would be closer to the notions expressed in the Federalist Papers, and would reflect the will of the majority -- which seems to be impossible both for your President and your Congress.

Finally there might be notional freedom of the press in the USA, however, to a large extent, the MSM reflects the wishes of the K-Street types [there are exceptions]. No doubt, it does not bother your billioners [or Congress, or President] that the EXTREME POVERTY LEVEL HAS RAISED in the last 20 years of USA, while the billioners and corporations were raking in the highest net income in history.

daniel :

To Salamon from Daniel. Just as I expected, you are full of nonsense. Zoltan, you can join the club. The issue is the spread of liberty, opportunity, democracy, human rights, etc.--a worldwide government under such and brought under such by a minimum of violence.

You Salamon and Zoltan just keep railing at the U.S. and with no plan at all in mind for bringing the world under the above with a minimum of violence.

You either obviously think such will occur by some method other than the U.S. has been demonstrating or you really do not believe in such and are nothing but troublemakers.

Now I ask you, as I have always been asking you, what is your method toward the above universal world of democracy--show me the path to such with less violence.

But why not stop fooling ourselves? You have no method of such. You will just keep railing at the U.S. and with some sort of absurd belief that man will just be good if only powers like the U.S.--or in your case precisely the U.S.--perishes.

Salamon, you keep complaining how much the U.S. spends on its military and you keep telling us how our economy can be improved. A better analysis would be one which examines why it is our economy is so good regardless of how much we spend on the military and why it is over so much of the world economies are bad regardless of how little all those poor countries spend on the military.

I honestly have no idea why I waste time with you people--especially when this is probably no honest conversation and you are just Muslim troublemakers. According to your absurd worldview I sit here and plot war when in actuality I have been wrestling with a great many serious questions. Here are some of them: 1) Is it inevitable that civilizations rise and fall? 2) If the previous is true, how does this modify the concept of progress and will we in the future come to a point where we have countries willingly filming their decline as something of a medical examination to be passed on to succeeding civilizations? 3) How much of history must be made by man and how much should he just let happen because this "letting happening" is more formative? 4) What exactly is the nature of man? How good? How evil? What degree of law is necessary? Are some groups more evil than others, etc.?

When people like you Salamon and Zoltan become more serious about our problems, then we can have a conversation. At this point it is you that are the children. You demonstrate no serious reading, thinking or much of anything except simple hatred. But perhaps you can surprise me and demonstrate some intelligent thought...but I doubt it. And you want to know why? Because once again I believe you to be Muslims and precisely what you believe must be hidden so you can spread your propaganda. You are focused solely on diminishing the U.S. and nothing more. Or if you are Hungarians, I would like to know if this is typical Hungarian thinking. Perhaps you can give us an analysis of what would improve Hungary's condition...but I suppose that would mean reflecting on self and that is beyond the capacity of you two....

berry, ecuador :

ZOLTAN:

"When Europeans can and do look back at 2500 years of history, and Chinese 5000 years, Americans look at 200 years. We also see death and destruction, but we've faced our darkest ghosts. You didn't."

Oh, really?

Do you, as a European, remember someone whose name was Hitler? Do you remember who came to rescue Europe from his panzers? Do you know who gave Europe the resources to rebuild the continent after WW2? Do you know who has kept his young men in Europe for over six decades so that Europe remains peaceful? Do you remember who sent his young men to stop the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia?

And, going back to PG's question... Didn't you, eastern Europeans, learn anything from those decades under Soviet domination? Do you want to go back to those wonderful days?

Salamon :

TOM:

Sorry to break your reverie, but Zoltan is Hungarian, and as such he does not represent an imperial power of the past. While Hungarians did do have some international forays, they all came to pass in 1526 on the Plains of Mohacs, when the Ottomans defeated Hungary. Since then it was Ottoman, Habsburg or USSR domination [the last courtsy of Churchill and Roosevelt] with minor breaks of independence 1918-1940 though the country lost 2/3 of area and 1/3 of population due to TReaty of Versailles] and since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Tom Wonacott :

Zoltan

"...and worse, that before the white men came there were Indians, with their own culture. That you destroyed..."

By "you destroyed", I am assuming that you are looking in a mirror. A classic example of complete hypocrisy.

"...French colonialism: the total area of land under French sovereignty reached 12,898,000 km² (4,980,000 sq. miles) in the 1900s and 1930s, which is 8.6% of the world's land area..."

The French probably altered or destroyed more indegenous people than anyone else in the world (with the exception of Britain(?)).

Zoltan :

Poor Daniel: "So how exactly can the U.S. remain the most powerful nation and follow your prescriptions? Or is the U.S. not to be the most powerful nation? But what then?"

You - personally, others probably also - don't seem able to think outside of "the US is the greatest country on Earth" and "this or that is a superpower". Apart from you, not many people care who is or is not a superpower. For most people know that this might or might not be the case today, but as ALL other civilizations know from their history, in 100 years from now the USA will certainly not be a superpower anymore.

So why care ?

Because you, the USA, have no history. Or rather, you consider that your country was founded 200 years ago. You willingly forget the 300 previous years of colonization, and worse, that before the white men came there were Indians, with their own culture. That you destroyed. As a counter example, look at Peru or New-Zealand: half their population is Indigene.

So I guess - free psychoanalysis - that the people of the USA can't look at their history because what they would see is death and destruction. When Europeans can and do look back at 2500 years of history, and Chinese 5000 years, Americans look at 200 years. We also see death and destruction, but we've faced our darkest ghosts. You didn't.

So, back to the parent child analogy, we are grown-up people who are not scared in the dark, and you are immature testosteroned frustrated wannabe-superpower adolescents.

Perspectives are different.

uran chekirbaev :

Is Russia doing right things now. In some way yea, in other no. Russia so weak, addicted and drunken like Eltsin himself has been drunken recently. Majority of population is in a huge poverty, alcogolism, shovinism against other minorities and in the end with tremendous hate and jealousy to the prosperous, advanced nations. Is it Russia reduced to its normal size. Quite sure. May be it'is even better if it would be reduced to the sizes of the USA and China. Because just 150 million people live in the territory 17 million squar km, two times more than sizes of USA or China or India. And it cannot manage its land on the appropriate level. In that country from 500 million to 1 billion people should live now and not only russians. Why Russia doesnt promote diverse etnicity policy like USA. Moreover russians has been trying to discriminate, assimilate and push away other minorities now and before. Why. That's the question. If Russia wouldnt increase its population in accordance with its territory it is sure that Russia always would be attacked by other countries including western nations, china and muslims.

Atheist, Boston, USA :

The Kremlin continues to station troops in countries which oppose their presence. Consider the Russian troops stationed on Georgian territory.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20061002&articleId=3365

Tom Wonacott :

Salamon

"...when a SUPERPOWER???? can be bogged down in Iraq, a country almost destroyed by 10+ years of US lead SANCTIONS AND BOMBING RAIDs, then that is not a superpower..."

If a murderous dictator like Saddam can keep the people of Iraq in line, then surely you must believe the US could use the same methods to restore order, that is, indiscriminate murder, torture, genocide and use of WMD's.

Tom Wonacott :

Salamon


"...purchased on credit and lack of intelligence by self-motivated groups -- neo-con Zionists, War mongering Military industrial complex, various self-serving monied lobby groups]..."

Do you mean the same neocon Zionist that have penetrated the Canadian government - the first country to cutoff funding to the Palestinians after Hamas was elected.

The same war mongering industrial complex that booted Iraq out of Kuwait (with Canadian help) and stopped the genocide in Bosnia (with Canadian help)? You do believe the US has the right to defend herself from terrorist harbored in Afghanistan, don't you? Most normal Canadians do, and I presume that is why Canadian troops are currently there.

Do you mean self serving moneyed groups like the ones George Soros contributes to (Moveon.org, for example)?

"...MSM [with special abilities of FOX, National Standard, Washington Times, etc],..."

So you only believe in a media that only supports your (extreme left wing) point of view, now that's freedom of the press, Salamon.

"...US Supreme Court Judiciary -- which confuses 1st amendment [freedom of speech]..."

I support George Soros contributing $23,000,000 to try to influence the election. It didn't work, but I believe he should keep on trying. Maybe had he spent $46,000,000, Bush would have been defeated. Would you have objected? My only objection to the large amounts of money spent is that it could go to something much more useful, but if you want to throw money at the Presidential, Congressional...elections, go for it.

"...and enlarges the war to include the whole ME - forcing China, Japan, EU [all oil consumers] to get in the act [possible WWIII]..."

Don't forget American ally Canada, not only an oil consumer, but a major oil seller (especially to the US).

Salamon, you are consumed by the US (and Israel). I am surprised you just didn't use last week's line i.e., US citizens have no moral authority to comment on Russia.............

Salamon :

DANIEL

when a SUPERPOWER???? can be bogged down in Iraq, a country almost destroyed by 10+ years of US lead SANCTIONS AND BOMBING RAIDs, then that is not a superpower.

When a Country owes 110% of its GDP offshore, and increases this debt at a rate of 6-7% per annum, the state is selling its future. From the greatest creditor to the largest debtort in 20 easy steps [1986-2006] - a super power ere it falls is strong financially [check ROME, GREECE, EGYPT, CHINA [before the opium wars], SPAIN, ENGLAND etc] then draw your conclusion with respect to the negative wealth accumulation by your country.
I know that you, Daniel, love war -- if other people get killed and maimed, as long as it is not you, or your darling POLITICAL ELITE. Your neighbor with a crippled son or daughter might have a different view. In fact, 60 odd % of your country men have a view supported by the vast majority of the world's population that your government is on the wrong track, which makes you the minority.

Daniel :

To Salamon from Daniel. Thank you for your analysis of what is wrong with the U.S. Salamon and what must be done to correct matters. Now tell me why it is the U.S. is the greatest superpower and what exactly everyone else is doing wrong--and especially tell me Salamon which countries exactly are following the very prescriptions you suggest to the U.S. for success...Actually even if you name some countries we can see right off they are not as powerful as the U.S.--because the U.S. obviously is the most powerful nation...So how exactly can the U.S. remain the most powerful nation and follow your prescriptions? Or is the U.S. not to be the most powerful nation? But what then? Once again, and as always with you, we get right back to models of government and how to create a world order which is not dominated by the ideas emanating from the U.S. Well what is this world order Salamon? The problem I have exactly with you Salamon is you no doubt take me as an evil man, but for the life of me I keep asking you to make sense, to create a world order for me apart from U.S. attempts to have worldwide democracy, but you give me nothing. I find you a useless troublemaker--probably a Muslim making trouble although you deny it. Everything with you is the U.S. being a problem and how you can correct it. Nothing with you is a criticism of the rest of the world. AND ESPECIALLY WITH YOU SALAMON IS NO CONCEPTION OF HOW IF INDEED YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS ARE ADOPTED BY THE U.S. THESE PRESCRIPTIONS--INDEED YOUR "PERFECTED" U.S.--WILL SPREAD TO THE WORLD...OR IS THIS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN? Your criticism in the final analysis is trash Salamon and nothing we have not made ourselves. All you have to do Salamon is give me a list of nations which come up to your standards and then tell me how these models can take worldwide--especially without force, for that seems to be one of your main criticisms of the U.S. That should be all for now. I await your answer.

Gal :

Russian people do not have any vengeance, we are just disappointed. We read most world newspapar's artical in Russian language (translated from French, Germany, and many others) in websites: inosmi.ru and inopress.ru. We know all about you and your opinion. Is is so sad.

Salamon :

BOBL VA:

your analysis above was mostly right. I do believe, however, that you erred in a couple of points:

1., While it is true that there is a shortage of SUPERPOWERS re-estabglishing themselves in history, there is an exception: China - possibly the greatest power for 4-500 years til the opinum wars - Is arising yet again.

2., there is a threat to the Well Being of the USA [aside from Russia in case of unforseen war], and that threat is your creation: The POWER ELITE OF WASHINGTON [purchased on credit and lack of intelligence by self-motivated groups -- neo-con Zionists, War mongering Military industrial complex, various self-serving monied lobby groups].

3., the major groups in this elite includes

a., MSM [with special abilities of FOX, National Standard, Washington Times, etc],

b., Think-tanks [by and large only analysing issues from USA/moneyed elite standpoint],

c., US Supreme Court Judiciary -- which confuses 1st amendment [freedom of speech] with election purchase [when elections need multi-million every 2, 4, or 6 years depending on office [FEDERAL Representative, Senator, President, or State: Governor, representative senator]

I would respectfully suggest that until there is a limitation on election finance [only citizens, say $100.00 max donation per cycle per office] there is no hope that the USA has any prospect of self-reform.

4., The USA is not down yet, but will decline extremely fast without renewal of internal political process [as above].

THERE IS ONE MORE POSSSIBILTY of extreme fast decline for USA, if the brain challenged present leadership decides that it can not loose in IRAQ/AFGANISTAN, and enlarges the war to include the whole ME - forcing China, Japan, EU [all oil consumers] to get in the act [possible WWIII].

BobL-VA :

Dave,

Historically, all superpowers have erred badly enough to lose their status except one. Us. That is not to say if we don't learn from history and shelve our egos a little we can also lose our status. To date no country with world aspirations (and I'm not even sure we fall into that class) has ever come back. The Greeks didn't, the Romans didn't, the Arabs didn't, the Germans didn't, the British didn't, the Russians haven't.

62 years ago we came out of WWII virtually unscathed. Europe, the Soviet Union, China and Japan were either in ruins or defeated. We emerged as the most dominate force the world had ever seen in history. A mere 5 years latter we learned we couldn't beat back the Chinese without resorting to nuclear weapons (which we were rightly not willing to do). That didn't stop us from occupying Vietnam and finding out it's very difficult to use brute military force to impose your will over an indigenous people. A war of attrition will follow and people lose interest. We saw the same thing in Afghanistan when the Soviet's invaded. It's expensive in terms of resources and manpower.

None of this history stopped us from invading Iraq and now we're bogged down in a quagmire there with no good way out. Thank someone we have more money then sense. However, it still is squandering our resources on counter productive actions. We're not building anything, we're destroying property and life. I know Bush had aspirations of installing a democracy in Iraq and hoping that action would lead to increased stability in the ME. At the same time I wanted congress to pass a bill mandating all Eskimo's had to buy their snowballs from me, but that didn't happen either. (and it's not likely to happen)

The arms race with the former Soviet Union is over. China is holding 300+ billion in US Treasury Notes. We're building factories all through Indo-China and Asia. We're importing Hugo's oil. Past President's talk about how much they like illegal Cuban Cigars. The list goes on and on. The point is we are in a global economy and global society today and we need to learn how to deal with it. The antiquated ways of the past (military intervention) are or should be over except in extreme circumstances. Iraq was not an extreme circumstance.

Our power emminated from our abundance of natural resources, manufacturing capabilities, prime farm land, size, climate, political system and last, but not least, our people. All of these factors have come together to produce a rich and varied economy that dwarfs the second place economy on this planet. Our military, while not the largest on the planet, is surely the best equipped and is backed up by a nuclear weapons program second to none. (I'm not real proud of this)

Virtually, no country is a threat to our way of life today. The only one that has the capability is Russia (appx. equal number of nukes) and they haven't shown any interest in being a threat to us in quite some time. I do imagine Putin is enjoying watching Bush self implode in Iraq, but that's about it. Putin knows in less then 2 years Bush/Cheney will be gone and there is only a very, very small chance we'll get someone as dumb as Bush again.

oktyabrenok-imperialist :

Good job, STUDENT. Give'em hell! These dumb yank rednecks deserve a lesson. Long Live Hugo und Fidel and the new Russian military bases in S.America. Russia should protect the free dempcratic world from texan idiots.

Dave! :

BOBL-VA
I will conceed that the list of countries that are currently considered "threats" by the US is substantially longer than the list of countries they could ever realistically "fix". I think you are suggesting that, while many of these countries act or do things in an unsavory manner, the US really does not have that much to fear from many of these countries and we should engage them in a more positive way. I would argue that the US does do that currently with a lot of countries (i.e. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc) and gets duly criticized for that. For a superpower, its really a no-win situation.

The parent/child relationship (good analogy btw) works both ways and it does so because we are a superpower and most everyone else is not (at the moment). The fact of the matter is that people don't call upon the Kenyans or the Belgians to address world issues (the Israeli/Palestinian issue comes to mind here). For better or worse, they look to the US (as a child does a parent). Continuing the analogy, maybe the children should grow up and start working out some of the issues on their own. And yes, the US would need to learn to let go.

"Russia has been there before and it didn't work out to well." My concern is that if you were once a superpower with global aspirations and you experienced a setback, what would you want to do once you regained your strength? Should one not be wary of a country trying desperately to regain its Superpower status? Why did it not work out last time? Because they could not keep up with capitalism. Well they are working on fixing that. It could be that they have "learned" from their previous mistakes and would think they could do it "better" next time. But Superpowers never make major blunders like that, do they?

BobL-VA :

Dave,

I know what NATO was set up for and I know it hasn't been used for that purpose for many years.

My point is we need more countries we're not going to engage in conflicts. It's this whacko view that all of these countries are threats that we really need to address. North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Cuba, China, most of the rest of the ME (tenuous), etc., etc., etc. We treat the world as a parent/child dynamic. We're the good parents and they're all bad children that need our discipline. It's sick. It's bad foreign policy and it leads to our invading and blowing up other countries. Right now we're nothing more then an irrational parent with the world's biggest paddle so it's no wonder most countries view us as more dangerous then anyone else.

As for this question the answer is simple. Russia's neighbors have nothing to worry about from Russia. Russia has been there before and it didn't work out to well. It would be very difficult to go back at this point in time. Currently, the Russian economy is just squeaking by and the cost of military conflicts of any size would bankrupt Putin.

Jeff Larsen :

Happy that Russia is back? Yes. Ordinarily I would not be overjoyful however someoneone has to keep the current US President shackled as his desire to tell everyone what to do and bomb or invade anyone that doesn't needs some attention.

Some here need reminding that prior to his arrival everthing was looking better. Nuclear stockpiles were decreasing, missiles were aimed at empty oceans, and a lack of missile defences meant no one was going to shoot at anyone. Then came George! I'm not sure if baby Bush was ever told "no" as a child but that is what it looks like.

My advice to Putin is to build as many large nuclear warheads as possible, preferably 50-100 megatons as the US military are scared of these, and the missiles to launch them. Rip up Salt1, 2 and 3 (not as if the US has ratified them anyway) and tell Mr bush "Bring em on"!

A good nuclear war and the resulting nuclear winter will have a beneficial effect in cooling the climate change that we shall shortly have to endure.

Just a short note. The US President is not elected in a true democratic vote. Al Gore "won" in 2000 but lost on "chads".

student :

ATHEIST, I have two news for you. The bad news is that your brain is dead. The good news is that you could make a good WP columnist.

By the way, you should know that there is no such thing as Kremlin operative in Russia. Everyone knows that there are only two groups of people in Russia: KGB and mafia. Whichever group you join you must have lots of sex with nice Russian girls. This is a part of the job contract. We also use bears to hunt down independent journalists and American tourists. This is our old tradition. I think after the crash course you fully qualify to work for WP.

(I am somewhat puzzled with the Indian part of the speech. Could you elaborate?)

Atheist, Boston, USA :

Kremlin operative: "May be there is a problem with democracy in Russia may be there is not. I have to see yet a serious discussion of the topic."


The discussion has already been conducted in all nations in the G-7: Canada, USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. The unanimous opinion is that Russia does not qualify as a democracy.

The biggest problem is the Kremlin's continued use of politically motivated imprisonment and politically motivated assassination to eliminate critics of the government.

To "compensate", the Kremlin also creates political movements and parties to cater to various segments of the Russian population. This sickening behavior does not bother most Russians. Washington would never create a 3rd political party to cater to people who do not align with the Democrats or the Republicans.

Only someone paid by the Russian government or someone who is utterly ignorant would suggest that Russia is a democracy. Even Western money managers, who are very pro-Russia in the sense of enjoying the opportunity to invest in the Russian economy, agree that Russia is not a democracy.

The people who bear the primary blame for the political situation in Russia is the Russian people. They created this kind of sickening society.

In the very same way that the Indians and the Iranians are 100% responsible for destroying India and Iran, the Russians are 100% responsible for wrecking the political system in Russia.

In the very same way that the Japanese are 100% responsible for creating their incredibly successful liberal democracy, the Russians are responsible for creating their KGB-dominated assassination-prone society that contradicts basic notions of democracy.

JRLR :

"The United States, like Germany, is a liberal democracy. The American people are firmly in control of the governmen, and their will is expressed once per two years at the ballot box."

If THAT is what being a democracy is about, then I understand why some people consider what we are attempting to sell the world as democracy "CRAP".

Voting every two years!... That is not a way for a people to be firmly in control of its government. No wonder Americans so little control their government(s).

ken meyerowitz :

the general population and especialy citizens affected by chyrnoble are more american minded than most people realize since so much of what we learn here comes from the media rather than personal relationships with the russian people.while working for a plumbing company a citizen of russia was able to be employed by my company.i had a personal work relationship with thisindividual.he was sickened by cancer from the fallout at chyrnoble where he worked for a long lenght of time.i will keep his name in anonomious.although he passed away several years ago from cancer due to radiation poisoning.he was just like any other good natured american.although he new he was dying his spirit was beautiful.he loved america and had relatives here of jewish decent and was true to his faith.he always dreamed of coming to america and was very educated about democracy.i never herd him say anything derogetory about anothers believes and never exspressed hatred.he was made at russia for the way he was treated and was not invavor of russia building nuclear power plants when thier was so much poverty.he was told the plant where he worked in russia was safe and would not harm him,he knew better but was helpless to act against the communist reqium out of fear for his loved ones.with all that he went through i was astouned at his demeaner and respect for the american way of life.his spiritualality got to your soul.however the communist russia was a different aspect.yes i do believe russia is trying to comeback and spread communism and is more dangerious now than ever before because the only way to spread communism is to reach agrrements with countries that are our enemies.and thier supplying iran with whatever is nessesary to make iran a nuclear power and start thier own union of allies which will give russia more room to go.however i feel china is the most dangerious threat to the u.s.and the rest of the freeworld.walmart should be put on the list of buisnesses that support terrorist nations.

student :

"A legitimate question is the need for NATO - does the west really believe in a reformed friendly Russia or is there still reason enough to fear them? I think the jury is still out on that."

You've been always paranoic about Russia. So I would bet on guilty verdict. On the other hand, with the new friends you've got you are screwed anyway.

through :

Student--In no way does your lack of good use of the English language detract from your perfectly inane arguments. Buy you may want to spell defense instead of defence. Of course, up to you. Now pout to the monitor.

student :

"Calling yourself a student on one hand and calling democracy crap is somewhat perplexing."

You missed the whole point, which is not surprising. Let me put the emphasis: (this PRODUCT you TRY TO SELL so hard is crap).

The difference between the Soviet Union and Russia is that you had something to sell to Soviets and have absolutely nothing to sell to Russians. You still try but your credibility is zero. And when you start talking about democracy in Russia you just sound ridiculous.

There is clearly no problem with the concept of democracy. The concept of free market is much more controversial and still I believe many (if not most) Russians would choose the US idea of the free market rather than the European. May be there is a problem with democracy in Russia may be there is not. I have to see yet a serious discussion of the topic. I hope that you do not regard WP publications as such discussions. Because if you do, then your brain is dead and the best thing you can do for humanity is kill yourself.

Atheist, Boston, USA :

Foreigner: "is this a - bad - joke ? Coming from an american ? Do you suggest that Cheney/Iraq/Guantanamo are the will of the american people ?"

The United States, like Germany, is a liberal democracy. The American people are firmly in control of the governmen, and their will is expressed once per two years at the ballot box.

At the same time, the American people occasionally express stupidity. You can see this stupidity in various failed foreign policies: an example is the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

There is a substantial difference between Russian society and American society.

Dave! :

BOBL-VA
NATO was founded early in the Cold War with the express aim of defending western Europe against a military invasion by the Soviet Union. There is no reason to have NATO if you invite the Russians into it as it defeats the purpose. That would be like inviting known thiefs into your neighborhood watch program. A legitimate question is the need for NATO - does the west really believe in a reformed friendly Russia or is there still reason enough to fear them? I think the jury is still out on that.

Student
Your postings remind me of the following paraphrased Russian joke. An American and a Russian are talking and the American says, "In the US, we can walk up to President Bush and say to him 'I don't like the job you are doing'!". The Russian says "Well we can do that too!". "Really?" says the American. "Of course", says the Russian, "It's no problem to go into President Putin's office and say "I don't like the job that President Bush is doing!"

"Today your preying about the democracy has about zero value (this product you try to sell so hard is crap). Nobody understands what are you really selling and everyone suspects that you have some hidden agenda." Calling yourself a student on one hand and calling democracy crap is somewhat perplexing. I can understand the hesitation of trust, given the lack of support the US provided at the end of the USSR. But as a student, one would think that you would be a little more thoughtful on your ideas of the worthiness of democracy.

BobL-VA :

Enemies, enemies everywhere. Oh, the sky is falling. The world is such a dangerous place and it's up to the United States to set all these bad people right?

Not everyone is going to agree with us all the time and that doesn't make them bad. We normally don't agree with ourselves half the time and despite what Bish says we're not emboldening the "enemies".

I'm serious, invite Russia into NATO. It would be good to have differing views.

db330 :

hi, in sports russia is regaining a prestigious position, much to the suprise of pundits who thought that russia would not be able to repeat the successes of the centrally-organized soviet sports system. russia's medal tally at the turin olympics increased dramatically from salt lake city and expectations are rising for beijing '08, especially in women's track and field. in tennis, russia is the dominant nation. cska moscow won the euroleague last year, and could repeat this year. sochi could and should be awareded the rights to host the '14 winter games (here are some pics of putin at some of the sochi sites: http://en.rian.ru/photolents/20070222/61098485.html).

in space, too, russia is doing well and their moon and mars plans are running ahead of nasa's, china's, and europes's, illogically really since russia's space budget for 2006 was $912.3M, europe's $3.8B, and nasa's $16.5B. for a short time after the discovery disaster, through russia was the sole way to the int'l space station. to everyone's suprise again, russia is back in a major way in space.

in international relations, strong ties with china, india, france, and germany, have more than offset declining relations with eastern/central europe and the u.s., who has lost a lot of legitimacy by waging an illegal war on false pretenses.

militarily: the best missiles in the business, a fifth generation fighter, new nuclear subs, and talks of undefendable scalar weaponary give russia more than enough leeway here.

economically: tremendous budget and trade surpluses have lifted russia from financial abyss. it is rich in natural resources and as plans to diversify the economy into highTech and services come to fruitition, mind you the russian populous is highly educated in math and science, russia will become an even more lethal economic powerhouse -- especially when the u.s.'s convient fiat dollar dominance is brought to an end.

==================

so, in all these spheres many counted russia out, but it's back in a major way. the parallels to napolean's invastion of russia are great. then, russia vacated its cities, fell back, and let the enemy weaken itself before going in for the kill and driving the enemy out.

==================

db330.blogspot.com

student :

To the guy from Boston: if you wanna argue that your military guys don't play all these geopolitic games and don't have whatsoever any effect on the Congress and administration then I suspect you you will have trouble to convince in this crap even your fellow Americans.

Choice of Finland is a bad one since the last time I checked they were neutral. You could choose some other country but still your argumrnt would be rubbish. This is YOUR military block and you get full cooperation if you are concerned. Yesterday on TV the Russian military guys said they could reconsider their position if they were allowed to participate in this defence system. Now what do you think are the chances of that?

(I wish I were a Kremlin operative. Unfortunately, I am unemployed at the moment and have to entertain myself as I can. I don't mind also to be mafia or KGB as long as they pay)

Zoltan :

Atheist, Boston, USA: "In a liberal democracy, the military does not do the thinking."

is this a - bad - joke ? Coming from an american ? Do you suggest that Cheney/Iraq/Guantanamo are the will of the american people ?

"installing a missile shield to protect Poland from Islamic nuclear missiles"

Student is right: you ARE brainwashed. There is absolutely no military threat of any kind from any country towards Poland.


Atheist, Boston, USA :

Kremlin operative: "First is, military don't think this way. They think in the terms of balance of power. If they decide that this changes the balance (and 95% that's what they will decide), this will trigger the arms race."

In a liberal democracy, the military does not do the thinking. It is reserved for the civilian government, which works for the civilian population. In a democracy, the government works for the people.

Suppose that there are 2 liberal democracies: Poland and Finland. The Finnish government does not install a missile shield. The Polish government installs the missile shield.

How would the Finnish government (representing the Finnish people) react? It would not view the shield as a threat. The Finns would accept the Polish assertion that the shield is simply defensive. The installation of a missile shield in Poland would not cause any problem in relations between 2 fine liberal democracies: Finland and Poland.

Why does the Russian government react differently from the Finnish government in the same situation? Russian society is not a democracy. The government does not work for the people; rather, the people work for the government. Also, the government is dominated by the KGB and other thuggish organizations.

So, of course, installing a missile shield to protect Poland from Islamic nuclear missiles (blessed by Mohammed himself) would cause serious problems between the Polish government and the thug-dominated/KGB-dominated Russian government.

student :

Question: "On the same track, what the countries between Western Europe and Russia choose to do diplomatically to ensure their own security is up to them. I didn't see the US forcing them to join NATO. A vote is a vote. No one is attacking anyone else in that region so what's the big deal?"

There are at least two arguments against this.

First is, military don't think this way. They think in the terms of balance of power. If they decide that this changes the balance (and 95% that's what they will decide), this will trigger the arms race. If you still accept this logic, then it is absolutely natural for Russia to redirect her missiles if Russia thinks it can improve her security. And here there is a difference between Russia and Checks and Polish. Russia does not complain it just sais how it will respond. The Checks and Polish complain and call Russia actions blackmailing .

There is a second argument. Politics is not only about what you do but also about gestures. At this moment there is no other way to interpret it as simply a hostile gesture toward Russia which was not provoked by anything. It's much easier to see the point if you just reverse the roles. The US have a long history of overthrowing governments in South America and Cuba. It is quite possible that Russia may find some governments in those countries wishing to build missile systems (whatever their purpose is) on their land. I can give 100% that this will be interpreted immediately as a declaration of the Cold War with all the consequences of the step. And nobody would ever care that the decisions were made democratically in those countries.


Which illustrates that this is an asymmetric world and this is a double standards world. But those asymmetric actions do have consequences for the US. They may ignore it (as they do now) but this does not help their cause and reputation in any way. So the ultimate question is: is it really worth it?

George Stewart :

The Russian people seem to want Mr Putin and what he is doing. That's their right. I can't blame them either... Post USSR Russia turned into a kleptocracy where the Russian people were screwed.

There is no point in trying to isolate Russia diplomatically or economically... the last thing anyone needs is a new Cold War.

On the same track, what the countries between Western Europe and Russia choose to do diplomatically to ensure their own security is up to them. I didn't see the US forcing them to join NATO. A vote is a vote. No one is attacking anyone else in that region so what's the big deal?

reporter, USA, http://theclearsky.blogspot.com/ :

Vladimir Putin is, more or less, molding Russia to emulate the Korean economic model: strong government control plus relative economic freedom. For about 16 years until 1987, the government of South Korea was effectively run by two military dictators. They did not allow political dissent but did allow economic freedom. At the same time, the government maintained close relations with certain companies called chaebols (e.g., Daewoo, Hyundai, and Samsung) and gave them preferential treatment.

This method of economic modernization worked in Korea and seems to be working in Russia.

What concerns many Americans and Europeans is that Putin may not follow the next step in Korean modernization: democratization. Putin has succeeded in lifting Russia out of poverty, but he continues to maintain tight control over Russian society. The Kremlin continues politically motivated arrests and assassinations (including the use of radioactive weapons to kill political "enemies").

Now, Putin threatens to withdraw from nuclear-weapons treaties. He has already used Russian oil as a weapon to threaten neighbors.

The Eastern Europeans should be very worried about the Russian menace. The Eastern Europeans are justified in wanting to join NATO.

Russia's menacing attitude is not merely a political and military threat. It is also an economic threat. This attitude suggests that the Kremlin may seize Western investments (e.g., factories, bank accounts, and the like) in Russia.

The current euphoria by Westerners investing in Russia may turn into a nightmare. It is a "Nightmare on Kremlin Street", and Vladimir Putin is Freddy Krueger.

Mr. POLISH :


The best leader that the Soviet Union had was: Mr. President Boris Yeltsin. He was not the President of the USSR but the President of Russian Republic. His best act on a political stage was the dissolution of the Soviet Union thank god for that courageous act. In addition, a very bold move. He was a very influential Politician in the Soviet Union.
Because of the brake-up of USSR 15 nations gained independence. (Not all of them currently democracies !.)
Because of that, a statuesque has change in Europe and the World. By dissolving the Soviet Union President
Boris Yeltsin has undone the gains of the 84 years of Communist-Bolshevik rule from 1917 (Ilich Ulianov Lenin) to 1991
(Gorbachev/Yeltsin) but also gains achieved by the rule of Tsars of Russia, the Romanovs Dynasty.
Thanks to the brake up and the dissolution of the “Russian Empire “ President Vladimir Putin and His KGB associates
are having hard time reconfiguring the Russian State and Empire to be come major player and a dominant power. As it was in the past.

Cristina Soares :

"Russia's back with a vengeance. Is Putin justified in criticizing NATO expansion? Should Russia's neighbors worry?"

Vengeance? Who said so? The Russians? The North-Americans? Whose is claiming that it Russia is back with vengeance? Who defined that this is it? Are there evidences to probe this affirmation? Remember, in terms of delicate issues, all care it is absolutely necessary. The appropriate use of the word makes all the difference. By this way, we create animosity, distrust, rifts...sometimes unnecessarily. However, objectively speaking, I would answer this questioning with another one: Why he is not? Why the neighbors should worry anyway? What exactly these neighbors fears, I mean, the answer to this should not be based on old times....We are living another time and unfortunately old times, old models are equal to answers that do not meet the harsh realities from this one.....Maybe this is a question not for an answer such as "Yes, he is, no, he isn't...That is somewhat simplistic. Perhaps, we should look for an answer by other ways....perhaps trying to see the world with the eyes and ears of today's world...labels and old classifications such as right and left, first and third world, developing nation...this all must be reviewed or current problems will remain being tackled with old strategies, many times outdated and ineffective... I guess that nobody quite have the answer yet....but without being pushed to hard thinking...the answer wont come! And old lads will fight their way the only way they know, that is, wrong or ineffective..useless...my comment is not answer...is a call to rethink how we are treating the issue....with which words, with which tactics....pending on it will come the answers and analyses and we risk to listen to and read more of the same...again!

Felix Drost, Amsterdam, NL :

Eric Trachtenberg:

The missiles the US is stationing in Eastern Europe are not aimed at anyone, they are interceptors which means their purpose is to bring down ballistic missiles. They are only threatening to those who would like to launch missiles at the US because these interceptors might (in theory at least) intercept them.

In Hungary, 85% of the population voted in favor of joining NATO and most if not all the people of Eastern Europe also favored NATO membership with similar majorities. Russia is not excluded from NATO membership but the European allies much more than the Americans oppose it. I'd not like my former occupier and oppressor to join the club that is supposed to secure my independence either. Your analogy with New England seceding from the Union doesn't take that history into account.


You write: "we did too little to help Russia recover from Communism."
1996 US $10b IMF loan http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/pivotal.elections/1996/russia/candidate.html
July 13, 1998, International lenders agreed to loan Russia over $22 billion as part of a two-year financial bailout plan to rescue the country's floundering economy. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/europe/july-dec98/russia_7-13.html
The IMF lends money on the condition that the receiving country reforms its economy; which Russia didn't do at the time. Only when oil prices went up did the crisis disappear. Did we do too little? I think such loans indicate otherwise.

Eric Trachtenberg :

Russia's reaction is a mix of legitimate concern and paranoia. Although the United States and NATO continue to believe they hold the moral high ground, many -- both inside and outside the West -- are not convinced.

Since 1991, Russia saw its empire collapse while its former allies and Soviet republics joined NATO. Now countries such as Estonia are not only independent of Russia but they are members of a potentially hostile military alliance. To put these feelings into perspective, imagine if all of New England left the United States and joined a military alliance that excluded the rest of America. Now the United States is putting missiles into Central Europe. If they are not meant for Russia, who are they pointed at -- Belarus?

At the same time, in Russian eyes, America stood by as the country fell into chaos and poverty in the 1990s. No one seemed to care when Russia was in great distress during awful periods such as the 1998 ruble devaluation. If America meant well, we did too little to help Russia recover from Communism.

After so many miserable years, the Russian experiment with semi-democracy failed. Promising order out of chaos, stability amongst uncertainty and relative prosperity instead of poverty, Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to create authoritarianism with popular consent. Recent U.S. policy has fed into growing Russian xenophobia, boosting the cause of democracy's enemies.

Although Russia is not likely to return to the Soviet model, democracy seems unlikely any time soon. The real menace is that Russian nationalism, a sense of grievance, glorification of the security forces and xenophobia will take Russia down the road to fascism.

Yousuf Hashmi :

I must admire a very intelligent and difficult question indeed. In fact three questions and based on one speech which triggered this debate.

For a moment we should try to explore that what Mr. Putin is trying to convey

1. Is it a noisy child who was promised a chocolate and when he unwrappes his gift box only finds a wrapper inside.

2. Is he Mr. Kosporov on a chess board, playing defensively and fortifying its castle and trying to put his scattered peices together, while his opponent was attacking a corner and trying to divert all his forces on the scene, and suddenly Kasporov explores a hole in opponents castle and announce a check surprsing all spectators.

3. or he is acting as chief of KGB trying to solve, some unsolved riddles.

4. or he is just any asian head of state fond of media attention and enjoying the publicity knowing his ability to off set even BBC host on web cast interview by asking how much his necklace cost.

The more important part of his speech is its timing. Same time we see a joint meeting between Russia, China and India.

Why not for a moment we take a time out and discuss pure fantasy and some conspiracy theories.

If we try to transfer this meeting on chess board then it will be the queen staying its own position and followed by two rooks on the same column.

this is the strongest and unbeatable formation in chess where these three peices comes on one line.

Then any peice obstracting this formation weather freind or foe is an obstacle to be relocated,eleminated or sacrificed. simply it is not required.

the neigbours therefore should be beware.

This is tit for tat. If europe is out of bound then the new game will be played on asian planes.

MikeB :

What sort of mental gymnastics did you undertake to compare Russia with Iran? Iran, at least in the paster several hundred years, hasn't attacked anybody. True, their president is an idiot and says some pretty stupid stuff. But, his is their president and he was popularly elected and an open and democratic election. Futhermore, ordinary Iranian citizens can criticize him (and do!) on web sites and sign their names without fear of arrest or reprisal. Russian, on the other hand, has a recent history of aggression and territorial takeovers that are quite worrisome. Mr. Putin was popularly elected, but he is showing signs of reverting back to his KGB origins. I am worried about Russia and a potential revived Soviet Union. I am not much worried about Iran unless we do something really stupid like attack her, then I expect the entire Middle East to unravel and see us slide into a global conflict that will wreck the United States AND Iran.

daniel :

Russia's back with a vengeance. Is Putin justified in criticizing NATO expansion? Should Russia's neighbors worry?

I am an American neither Republican nor Democratic and I am inclined to sympathize with Putin on this problem. It may seem outrageous to say so but I find a troubling pattern between Russia, Iran and the problems the U.S. is having in Iraq, and it really should be the U.S. which has the more objective outlook.

By troubling pattern--in fact a type of musical scale--between Russia, Iran and Iraq I mean we have three countries struggling with various degrees to become democratic (at least we hope they are struggling so) but falling backward and depending on natural resources which both increase this backwardness and cause the West to become dependent on them.

We can assign a level of difficulty: Russia should have been the easiest to make democratic, then Iran and of course Iraq is a distant third.

Why I am inclined to give Russia the benefit of the doubt is because the U.S. did not at all grasp how difficult it would be to get Iraq to become democratic, and if not grasping the problem of Iraq probably the U.S. blundered with Russia in the 90's of the last century but of course no one publicly says so.

As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed instead of an expansion of NATO which resulted in a gobbling up of satellite countries, every effort should have been made to both make Russia democratic (and not try to capitalize on her collapse whether strategically or in the business sense) and include her in NATO. But it seems she was both put back--isolated--and expected to just open up to business investment, etc.

That we have failed with Russia means we will probably continue to fail with Iran and probably means Iraq will be a disaster.

Worse: all three countries are in something of a psychological relationship now--they sense their similarity of relationship to the West, etc.--especially Iran and Russia.

I would really like to read an essay which describes the similarities and differences between Iran, Russia and Iraq and their relationship to the West. Perhaps Venezuala can be thrown in for good measure.

Of course the fault is not entirely the U.S.'s--in fact what we are trying to establish here is what at best the U.S. can do and what is beyond our capabilities and what Huntington calls the irreconcilable differences between civilizations...

My belief though is that the failure to have Russia democratic and firmly established in NATO is inexcusable--that is the fault of the West and especially the U.S.

Iran is a more difficult case and even the U.S. operating at best perhaps cannot get that nation to become democratic and on level with the West.

Iraq of course is a disaster and the perfect proof of the Huntington thesis. I really should state at this point by Huntington I mean Samuel Huntington and his book "the Clash of civilizations"...

As crazy as it sounds I believe the proper response to Putin is to invite him to become a NATO member.--And offer him everything he needs to get Russia to become more democratic and in fact truly and finally part of the glory of Europe--in fact perhaps its finest if latest flower.

But I always did dream of Russia so perhaps I am being romantic...

I just give Russia the benefit of the doubt. Russia is just too close to the total experience we call the flowering of Western civilization to dismiss.--In fact would we have had Western civilization without that truly astonishing roster of Russian scientists, artists, writers, thinkers of all sorts, etc.?

I just feel the West is so close to tying things up with Russia, China, India not to wonder...

A person should perhaps be naive in such a situation...

Yes, Russia is back with a vengeance. Yes, Putin is justified, and no Russia's neighbors do not have to worry--unless of course the West tries to constrict Russia and stupidly opens a rift again--or God forbid, decisively declares Russia not a part of Europe....

James Buchanan :

Russia isn't "back". Hate'em or love'em, this is not the Soviet Union. Sovetski Soyuz is gone, dead, and buried. It might someday snuggle up with some of the nations that were once SSRs under the old regime, but lets face it, the old Bear is gone. This is a new Bear, with a new outlook on life that will never be isolated like the old Bear. Putin might bring the reins of power solidly back to the President's hands, but he'll never be a Premier. Russia stands to make too much money by engaging Europe's economy, just as China made a massive pile of money providing the US with cheap manufacturing. I don't see this new arrangement as a Cold War. Communism has evolved beyond the State providing the people with everything. They learned the hard way in the 1990s the price of gross inefficiency and isolation from the western economies. They won't make that mistake again.

No, if there's a future conflict between Communism and Democracy, it'll be economic. Western efficiency has resulted in the very efficient plunder of its resources, and the Communists failure to achieve efficiency in the past leaves them ready to receive western requests and investment in their resources. We won't be able to live without them anymore than they can live without our economic model. Like China and the US, they'll be joined at the hip with Europe. No one will like their dance partner, but they won't want to risk the fallout of destroying them.

Salamon :

JRLR :

I am aware that the Miliitary industrial complex employs thousands of people. But so would some infrastructure which would benefit Homeland, where the present armament industry could be transformed to solve some of the problems facing the USA and the World. {recall how fast GM etc changed to war production and how fast they could get back to civilian production during 1942-9

Ideas:
1.,Public transport - rail and commuter, for transport is a major producer of CO2, rebuilding New Orleans and the appropriate defences against rising sea levels [applies to almost all major coast cities] See Scientific American.
2., Increasing the energy efficiency of public/private buildings
3., Building Nuclear power generating capacity'
4., High Voltage Electric grid renewal - a major problem in USA as per Scientific American.
5., Starting desalination plants for California, to protect from falling reservoir levels in the Mountains
Without doubt, you could come up with other projects which would increase the economy of the USA at the same time produce demand for highly skilled workers of the Defence Industries..

Please Note, I am not against research, barring Nuclear armament, biological weapons, and space based military efforts. I am pleased that DAPRA created the internet, aided and abetted the development of numerous material science innovations, but I do not see that the USA needs any new attack planes, any new bigger and more disructive bombs, nor does the world need all the armaments the USA exports.

If you can access NEW SCIENTIST last issue I received complied those points which were missing in the ICCP project - the more scary sea level rises, the problems with the Antarctic/Greenland Ice, etc. -= Presumably the may/june report will include those points the politicians wanted to exclude from the Feb Report [Mostly USA/Chinese efforts at exclusion]

JRLR :

"... get out sometime from their imaginary world and talk to people they write about."

Student, I just wish to say that I concur. What is missing the most, in Western media, is hearing the very people who are being talked about and who are not on "our side", be they Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iranians, Serbs, Africans, Chinese, Russians, South and Latin Americans etc. ad infinitum.

Here, communications are controlled! That includes "moderation", selective retention, censorship, self-censorship, even self-induced coma (after a trauma like the one that followed the collapse of those two towers, for instance).

As your notes imply, it is dangerous to talk to others and to "hear it from the horse's mouth"... It may change people's minds and leave them at odds with the society they live in, with the ideology they live under. Even in the West, even in the US, "dissidence" (euphemism!) is not considered as something to be encouraged. I am sure Professors Chomsky, Zinn and others would confirm.

Mental gymnast :

Let's assume that we are back to the USSR days and we have Khroshev or even Brezhnev or perhaps and most realistically Gorbechov, even Yeltsin when he was half sober.... at the helm vs. George W. Bush.......fill in the blank what would have been the result. What would have been the interpretation of any of those encounters? Entertaining? Disaster? A jumbo version of Iraq? No attack on Iraq?

The fact is that the world needs more than one rogue state, if only for that lot to keep each other in check.

JRLR :

"NATO and constant wars... keep the USA MILITARY INDUSTRIAL LOBBY POLITICIANS COMPLEX HUMMING [Boeing, Lockheed, Halliburton, etc]... the President and the Congress should look in the mirror and ask: While spending all this money on wars and armaments do we as the powers responsible to rule the PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE help them to have a better life, or are we endangering the next generation with unmanagable debt, with most of the world disliking/hating us?"

Salamon, while agreeing with you on much of what you write, I believe we are mistaken in so often describing the "military industrial complex" in such narrow terms.

The military industrial complex is composed of millions and millions of Americans, ordinary men and women who benefit immensely and who prosper from it.

That can help explain why millions upon millions of Americans will fight for that military industrial complex as they would fight for their own life. Anytime, you will find them prepared to "justify" and support whatever it undertakes, throughout the world, regardless of the dire consequences on other human beings and on nature.

That can also explain why the US President and the US Congress feel no need to "look into the mirror" and ask themselves the very legitimate questions you raise.

Vision is not equally distributed amongst us, human beings. In addition, power and riches often obstruct any vision people may have. Let's face it: Great souls are a rare "commodity".

BobL-VA :

Let's invite Russia to join NATO. If they accept we don't have an issue.

Zoltan :

I'd like to see the NATO closed: it has outlived it's usefulness, and serves now for things that the USA can't get the UN to do. Unfortunately, some Europeans are to affraid/dumb/brainwashed to call an end to the NATO.

I can understand Putin that, having withdrawn PEACEFULLY from former occupied satellite countries - and I'm hungarian, I know the issue - they resent seeing put under their nose some remotely controlled missile system. It's supposed to be for DEFENSE, right, but how do you know ? The USA has a DoD - Departement of Defense - and they seem to interpret "defense" in creative ways. I understand Putin is worried, and so am I.

I still agree with MikeB that Putin is driving Russia in dangerous dictatorshiplike directions.

But what strikes me most is the Polish attitude: they're in the European Union, shouldn't they consult other european countries about external military installations ? When Poland entered the EU in 2004, the first thing they did was to buy american F-16s, instead of european Raffale, Eurofighter or Grippen. Now they have a pair of brothers as president and prime-minister, they want to re-introduce death-penalty, ... Poland doesn't seem to really like to be part of Europe.

student :

If you really want an entertaining debate, ask one of you WP people who writes editorials about Russia answer the questions on one of those forums (say www.inosmi.ru) and then publish it here. Your WP guys need to get out sometime from their imaginary world and talk to people they write about. Right now just accept one simple fact. In the times of the Soviet Union you had something to offer to the Russian people. Today your preying about the democracy has about zero value (this product you try to sell so hard is crap). Nobody understands what are you really selling and everyone suspects that you have some hidden agenda. Don't you?

student :

Question: "Are Russians asking themselves what they may have done to make us think NATO needed to be expanded? The answer is no. There is no forum like this one in Russia where leading pundits ask a question like this."

Answer: haven't I told you already that you are brainwashed and dumb witted. Well, let me say this again. For the start, many of the articles published in the US newspapers (about Russia) are translated and posted on Russian websites (and yes, they have forums). Some major newspapers pick some of them and publish it. And for the record, I think the articles are the biggest source of anti-Americanism in the country. And now ask yourself: what really do you know what is published in Russia and what we think. Isn't it only what WP (Washingtonskaya Pravda) chooses to feed you?

student :

Question: "Maybe you are such an benevolent enlightened person that you can describe how a nuclear missile DEFENSE system signals hostile intentions."

Answer: Maybe you are such a benevolent enlightened person that you can explain what a nuclear missile DEFENSE system is doing there in the first place. Just don't tell me that this is defence against North Korea. You are not that stupid, right. As a matter of fact, Russia doesn't mind. We just retarget our missiles. Not really a big deal. I wonder what the US response would be if we build our missile defense system in Cuba. I somehow suspect you won't be happy.

Question: "And who exactly is stealing Russia's gas? Poor starving people in ex-soviet satellites? "

Answer: I am glad you've got this right. I'm sick to repeat it but charging 50% of the market price is NOT bullying. It's called something different. Well, I forgot that you are brainwashed here. But since you are so benevolent and nice people (and rich) why don't you pay the other 50% of the price? Well, I thought you wouldn't. May be you are not really nice.


Tom Wonacott :

To PG:

"...To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and also that NATO would never expand further east..."

Based on the signed agreement between Russia and the US, Putin is clearly right in his assessment of NATO expansion. The addition of three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland in 1999, and, the addition of seven more Northern European and Eastern European countries in 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania) was a clear breach of the agreement.

The main purpose of NATO is security, so why join unless there is a perceived threat to your country? All of these countries had good reason to join based on their histories under Soviet domination which spanned over forty years.

Anonymous :

Russia's Back! Happy?

Yes, I'm very glad that Russia is back, for decade that it had played a passive & defense game against Americain expansion. now Putin had rise the void, a signal his intention to openly go head to head against U.S. if the west think that Russia is running out of option..consider this:

SCO will soon find new members such India, Iran, Pakistan, the list of countries what wish to join SCO is very long. It wont be a difficulty to form a block to counter Nato.

As Chinese, I totally support Putin's view.
Americans did same to China as they did to Russia by expanding the Alliance with Japan and actively support Taiwan independance and do everything to contain China. It's time for Russia & China to forge a military alliance, SCO is much better and more powerfull then Warsaw pact if it allows itself to transform into military alliance such Nato.

quote: Russia's back with a vengeance. Is Putin justified in criticizing NATO expansion? Should Russia's neighbors worry?

If SCO has Canada and Mexico as Alliance in hypothetical situation, then put army, tanks, fighter and anti-missle around U.S. Should Americains be worry about this?

Vedapushpa-Bangalore-India :

I quite agree with Wyczanski that the Russia of the day under Putin is in a political regress with an utterly self-aggrandizing regime.

Proceding any further with its KGB agenda and a 'Godless' arrogance - both of which can sanction cruelty of the worst order - Putin is already equipped to be a 'Hitler'.

Hope the Russian folks arent still all 'brainwashed' a la the Germans of the worst times. If US and Allies should or get involved it wont be a cold war but a Soviet subduing for sure. So it should....

Vedapushpa

JRLR :

"Are Russians asking themselves what they may have done to make us think NATO needed to be expanded? The answer is no." -- That is called sanity.

Gunther24 :

Ken Kusic had it about right. How would Bush/Cheney react if Russia placed anti-missile batteries in Mexico and Canada, or on floating platforms in the Caribbean. It would be the Cuban missile crisis all over again. The same gos for our having troops in 144 countries around the world.For some reason, the US feels justified in having a double standard but would not tolerate actions like ours by any other country: Iraq invading Kuwait was wrong, but US invading Iraq was right, even when the most pertinent arguments for it were outright lies. Both were WRONG.
The secret of being a well regarded super-power is to have the power but not use it wantonly for reasons not connected to national security; eg. for the benefit of the oil companies and other corporate interests.
To become independent of the middle east oil producers, doubling the average mileage requirement on cars would have been more effective. Instead, Bush has antagonized all the major oil producers around the world - Remember 1974 and the oil embargo?!
The military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned long ago has brought the US to the brink of loosing everything - like Rome nearly 2000 years ago. Spread thin, with many internal disagreements, and deeply in debt, with a deteriorating currency.
Russia is not ascending, they have too many internal problems, but the US is visibly declining and can be held to account by anyone who wants to scold us. The Iraq misadventure has weakened us enormously. - If two or three countries wished to punish us, they could cause a huge economic problem by dumping their US treasuries. The dollar would drop precipitously and cause economic mayhem here. - The US would likely be forces to contract its forces around the world, because we could no longer afford them. No one might wish to finance our trade deficit. Russia has oil. What do we have except a huge deficit and negative trade balance.
So, Putin can scold us without fear of retaliation, since our quiver is virtually empty.
All we got is a posturing administration whose army is bogged down in Iraq, with decreasing financial power and an inability to find enough troops for what it has bitten off.

Salamon :

Mr. Putin was right. The USA uses NATO exclusively for its [presumed] internal advantage in foreign affair matters. The USA by getting NATO to "help" tries to legitimize its war crimes: we have the coalition of the willing [while the USA carpet bombs most of Iraq], we have NATO in Yogoslavia [while carpet bombing sections and international bridges, passenger trains and foreign embassies etc], we have Afganistan, where the carpet bombing includes wedding parties. Aside from all this the USA has 460 000 + soliders in 130 + Sovereign States, now it has an African Command [as if Africa was part of USA], ad infinitum. The other effect of NATO and constant wars is that these two measures keep the USA MILITARY INDUSTRIAL LOBBY POLITICIANS COMPLEX HUMMING [Boeing, Lockheed, Halliburton, etc]

It was time for someone to name the raging bull as a destructive force in the World. Puppy Blair, surrugate son Obert, war mongrel AEI, career politician Mrs. Clinton will never say the obvious: the USA is acting against world peace.

Reading the blogs on WP it is notable how often the USA contributors demand that some other country be bombed back to stone age.

It does appear that so many of these killing machines [for they could not be called human beings] seems to forget that there is one other power which can bomb any part of the world, including the USA back to the STONE AGE.

The USA has to realize that there is a limitation on the natural resources of the world, and as she continues to waste money on wars and armaments [often in oppostion ot international Protocols] it is wasting scarce resources and energy, thereby endangering both herself and the rest of the world in the near future.

Where the error lies is patently obvious: the President and the Congress should look in the mirror and ask: While spending all this money on wars and armaments do we as the powers responsible to rule the PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE help them to have a better life, or are we endangering the next generation with unmanagable debt, with most of the world disliking/hating us?

IT appears that both internal USA and external USA polls clearly inhdicate that both Congress and the President are on the wrong track, and essentially Mr. Putin was right.

La Russophobe :

I think you are asking the wrong question.

You should not ask whether Putin was right to criticize the expansion of NATO and the expression of U.S. influence. You should not ask, in other words, whether we've given Russians reasons to fear us.

Instead, you should ask whether Russians are asking themselves a similar question. Are Russians asking themselves what they may have done to make us think NATO needed to be expanded? The answer is no. There is no forum like this one in Russia where leading pundits ask a question like this. To the contrary, Russians are favoring their dictoatorial leader with overwhelming support, to the tune of 70% or more.

What does this mean? It means that by asking the question you are exposing us to Russian exploitation. We question our actions, but they don't question theirs. We reform, they stay the same. In essence, you are suggesting that we trust a KGB spy that if we drop our guard and become less "threatening" to Russia, Russia will not take advantage.

In my opinion, that's just plain crazy.

We should ask how we can get Russians to start questioning their own behavior before we start questioning our own.

http://russophobe.blogspot.com/

Anonymous :

Student:

Maybe you are such an benevolent enlightened person that you can describe how a nuclear missile DEFENSE system signals hostile intentions. Has anybody since Hitler attacked Russia except revolutionaries inside Russia or its satellites?

The flaunting of power by the US is ridiculous and the jealousy of the US power by the former Soviet Union is worse. And both countries are off to the races backing opposing sides in an old game that scares the hell out of everyone.

And who exactly is stealing Russia's gas? Poor starving people in ex-soviet satellites?

yknot. :

No statement is as obvious as an obvious statement. Still its examplary of the changing roles of leaders and nations.

A simple adage comes to mind with the following parable of a "lion in the forest strutting around and demanding from fellow animals to know "WHO IS THE KING OF THE JUNGLE?" and the successive responses "YOU ARE THE KING OF THE JUNGLE" made him strutt more arrogantly until he came upon an elephant whose response to his being challenged WHO IS THE KING OF THE JUNGLE told the LIon to get lost.

The lion persisted in his demands whereupon the elephant grabbed him by the mane and flipped flopped him several times with his trunk. After a period of 6 minutes or so the elephant let the lion stagger away muttering "YOU DONT HAVE TO GET MAD IF YOU DONT KNOW WHO THE KING OF THE JUNGLE IS".

Putin may be telling George that he may like to think that he be KING OF IRAQ but in no way is he KING OF THE WORLD.

Plus ca change plus que c'est la meme chose or in comic book parlance so whats new? or better still what goes up must eventually come down.

highwayscribery, Los Angeles, http://highwayscribery.blogspot.com :

The pot calling the kettle black. Putin's comments were certainly necessary by an authoritative source beyond the blogosphere; just not from him. Although president of great and proud nation, his ham-handed policies are best summed up by the poster "Student" above, and mirrored in those of our own deflated leader (w.) - the "unilateraler." Vlad's analysis is spot-on, largely because it takes one violent guy to know another.

Paul :

I think the world need not worry about Russia. Infact, it is good that Putin is speaking out. In the current world order, where the US and NATO seems to be busy trying to re-colonize the world, we need voices in the UN and world body to speak out. We cannot go around the world trying to spread democracy, and expect to be welcomed with flowers.
We will surely not have a Cold war like situation in years to come, but surely a balance of power in the world needs to be achieved.

MikeB :

Felix Drost, Amsterdam, NL : "...NATO expansion is a consequence of democratization in Eastern Europe..."
No. NATO expansion is due to the fact that Russia has a long history of conquering other countries, murdering their leaders and educated classes, and treating the remaining people like dogs and just looting the countries natural resources.. I've been to Poland the people there *still* talk about the Polish troops that were murdered by the Russians and buried in mass graves. Eastern European countries join NATO under the belief that it will provide them some protection from the deprivations of Russia. Putin is as much a dictator as is Bush, an just about as bad. The sooner both are gone, the better off the world will be. The time for delusional power mad lunatics is over!

student :

Its hard to believe that the US has anything to fear from Russia unless the US has a hidden agenda with hostile intentions. The way NATO and the US expand their nuclear defense stations in the Czech Republic and Poland does seem a bit strange if their intentions are completely legit.

Do Russia has anything to fear from its neighbors? Obviously the answer is yes. Even if her only fear is stealing her gas and oil.

Isn't commenting easy? You people deserve your president and this newspaper. Poor poor brainwashed arrogant Americans. I do feel sad for you

RAJIV DASGUPTA :

As a non-politico, might one suggest by way of rough analogy that international politics is mostly air and bubble film. Which do you wish to pay attention to, the air or the thin film that encapsulates it through phases of expansion, contraction, and occasionally bursting in order to inform you conception of reality? Categorization, parsing, it's mostly for naught, you see. Looking at the underlying reality: the former USSR has plenty of reserves of natural gas and oil, and it's what the world is running short on.

Evil empire redux? No, it collapsed the first time because the price of oil and gas collapse in the 1980s and the USSR was past peak production. Follow the resources. Russia quite logically wants a hand in its former oil rich republics in order to remain viable.

Don't listen to what people say; look at what they do. Check out the Sakhalin story.

For all the bravado, many in West runs around like latter day chicken littels because they become fearful from reading layer upon layer of analysis (taken as fact), when mostly what is needed is a look at basic physical and economic facts.

Felix Drost, Amsterdam, NL :

NATO expansion is a consequence of democratization in Eastern Europe; in a referendum in Hungary, 85% of those who voted endorsed NATO membership. In other former Soviet client states and in the Baltic states similar large pro-NATO majorities exist.

Russia didn't take the wishes of those people in account then, and doesn't seem to care about their wants now. But those people want the security of NATO and they want the freedom and prosperity that the EU can bring, which is why the support for joining both was so large.

Not just Russia's neighbours should worry about what Putin is up to, people died in Ukraine and Georgia when Russia turned off the gas to those countries in the middle of winter. Thousands of people died when the Russian army shelled the city of Grozny. Russia continues to help Iran build the Busher reactor despite widely held international concerns about Iranian intent. Russia is becoming a racist state where moinorities from southern areas are second rate citizens. The economist recently wondered if Russia should be considered a fascist state. Putin is a Machiavellian who believes a restoration of Russia is more important than the lives and well-being of its own citizens, let alone the well being of someone else.

Anonymous :

Its hard to believe Russia has anything to fear from NATO unless Russia has a hidden agenda with hostile intentions. The way Putin is lashing out at the NATO expansion and the US nuclear defense stations in the Czech Republic and Poland does seem a bit strange if his intentions are completely legit. The US is not going to use a nuclear weapon, is Russia?

Its easy to believe Putin's comments on Bush are completely justified and that the USA is overplaying its role as global policeman. He bungled into Iraq when the tiger sits next door in Iran. And, the American public is so tired of the war, the liberal political backlash is going to elect a leader too weak to deal with a defiant Iran. I don't think it is anyone's interests to let Iran have access to nuclear technology in the long run. Russia will gain in the short run by selling nuclear technology to them, but it may come back to bite them. The fear isn't the Iranian government having nuclear weapons, its having one 'stolen' and ending up in the hands of radical islamists.

Do Russia's neighbors have anything to fear? Obviously the answer is yes. Even if their only fear is rising oil prices. Thats a huge chip in the big game of Europe/Asia and it will surely be used to Russia's gain.

Bobster :

Yes, to all the above questions. Russia is back in the Game! And the Cold War has begun again in ernest.
And Russia is putting the world on notice that she is a serious player by siding with Iran. Russia has been recovering slowly and methodically from her fall back in the 90's. Russia never feared the UN before, and I don't see her being concerned about the UN now either. What is nation does take the UN seriously?
Putin is a shrewd politician. He learned his craft well as a former KGB agent. One can see where Russia is once again reasserting her influence in other countries beside Iran. Putin has spent years in re-building the military, and is now in the process of restoring her former status as a superpower. If Russia is to be a major player she has to challenge America's presence in the Middle East, and Europe. But this could be a good thing for the world. The terrorist would have a closer target to vent their frustrations on, and the other nations would have another "bully on the block" to whine about. But then again, it could all backfire, and I think we all know where that would lead too.

JRLR :

In WWII (in historical terms, that was yesterday), Russia was the major force that defeated 75% of the enemy forces. Those events took place on what was called "the Eastern Front" (1941-45). There, not on one but on multiple fronts, Russia took the Germans and their allies "by the hand"... all the way back to Berlin, and to their respective home countries. That was done at the cost of 20 million Soviet lives.

Together with China (it too had its years of epic fortitude, prior to 1949), Russia should never be underestimated. Those remain two great, tremendously powerful countries that deserve respect.

Russia is not "back". Russia is simply there, as it always was. The magnificent song tells it all: "There is, on the Volga, a Rock..." ("yiests, na Volgie, utios...")

Tsarist Russia is long gone, we have got well beyond the aftermaths of WWII, and the Cold War is over. We are therefore in urgent need of new thinking (new "paradigms"...) on international relations with countries like China and Russia, in the years to come. Constantly refusing to think by simply reviving the old concepts, taking thus the easy way out of thinking out the future, will not do. There is a limit to History simply repeating itself... and in the same terms

By his remarks, President Putin only meant to make it clear to the world, publicly, and in no uncertain terms, that Russia HAS ALREADY taken all measures necessary to counter US threats to its security, be it through NATO or by any other means. In international relations, that should be termed "politeness": not "rhetoric", but diplomatic talk. It ought to be listened to. President Putin's remarks require no justification. No one is threatened by them.

Josef :

There have been indications for a long time that the United States is self destructing from within due to overextending its military and political influence. This is the pattern of failed Empires. The end is accelerating and there are few options available to remain a superpower. Russia, China and India are emerging as global powers, with Islamic instability a growing problem as oil resources decline and their diminishing wealth and influence affect the future of their impoverished subjects

silever :

Why did anyone think Russians were stupid, were forever beaten down, instead of a rich, great civilization that would of course rise again? And quickly. Why did anyone think Russia would stand by as the eight jewish oligarchs stole the natural resources, became zillionaires and then tried to take over the country as well? And would stand by as there were murmurs of fomenting 'revolution' by the
American neocons. At least that has stopped as Putin lays on the rubber.

Anonymous :

Why did anyone think Russians were stupid, were forever beaten down, instead of a rich, great civilization that would of course rise again? And quickly. Why did anyone think Russia would stand by as the eight jewish oligarchs stole the natural resources, became zillionaires and then tried to take over the country as well? And would stand by as there were murmurs of fomenting 'revolution' by the
American neocons. At least that has stopped as Putin lays on the rubber.

captainjohann, BANGALORE, INDIA :

Okinawa,Guam,SouthKorea,Taiwan, and all of Europe and south america , what to talk of Iraq and afghanistan.
US can be physically harmed by only one country and that is russia.China has a long way to go.
What US is gaining by pushing into Poland and slovonaia? It can site OIL in case of Iraq. but poland?
This appettite of USA to treat the whole world as its colony is the real problem including outer space.

Kevin :

I guess when President Bush was looking into the soul of Mr. Putin, Mr. Putin was soul searching too. He looked into the soul of Mr. Bush and saw opportunity.

In abundance.

Sad that like Rome, we are falling from within.

sl_izh :

When in Russia the president (falsification of elections, execution of parliament) was drunk Yeltsin, the western heads clapped (obviously with jeer) and spoke Russia about becoming democracy in Russia. Thus Russian people grew poor and died out in millions. Now, our president Putin with whom it is not a shame to us, restores the destroyed country. People can lift a head, start to bring up children. Politicians and citizens can freely discuss in what he is right, and than anybody is not right also you will not put in prison. And at all thus, the western politicians speak, that Russia rolls down to dictatorship. It not the truth!

Russia, Urals

student :

I am Russian and I am happy. And I don't give a damn what you think. Because aren't you those stereotypical brainwashed poor arrogant Americans as they protrait you. Let's see what we have here: 1. Mr dumb brainwashed, 2. Mr reasonable brainwashed, and 3. Mr Polish (no other description is needed)

Krzysztof Wyczanski :

In my opinion Russia is going back, but not to the communist manifesto but to the period that was defined by the dynasty of the Romanovs that ruled Russia for 300 hundred years until the day when Nicholas II Romanov abdicated
Political power in Russia in 1917. Russia was undemocratic autocratic and imperialistic State then.
The political aims and aspiration of the current rulers in the Kremlin are no different then those of Russia that was ruled
by the Romanov’s. By the way, this time the dynasty that rules Russia is made up of the people whose roots are in the KGB. The national emblem of the Russian State is the double-headed Eagle the former code of arms
of the Romanovs dynasty the royal family that ruled Russia. Please study the Russian Politics of the period prier of the
the time when Russia became the Soviet Union the Evil Empire.

Ken Cusick, USA :

Russia's Gov't has no more desire to see NATO expand its influence near its borders then the US Gov't has in seeing China expand its influence in Central America. The question is obvious and silly. As is the question about a return to the Cold War. Russia and the United States have no economic or national security issues inimical to each other that should produce the hostile face off that existed during the Cold War. The fact that Russia is not nor is it likely in our lifetime be a democracy as we recognize the term an a priori reason for hostility between our nations. In fact our joint interests in expanding exploration of Russia's natural resources, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and radical islamic fundementalism should be areas of cooperation that can be expanded. The talk of a revised Cold War is purely for domestic political reasons. Russia and the United States have never had true points of conflict in the long histories of both these great nations. There is no reason why we should have any now

Bill Devers, Highland, MI :

Like any bear that is slowly recovering from wounds that occured during the 1990's, the Russians will always be a threat to the west or east. Putin and his former KGB comrades have been systematically removing voices of democracy and real free-market trade for the past several years. Putin's approval ratings are 70+% opening the door for him to become President-for-Life when his current term expires. If one thinks about it, Putin is taking a page out of the Chineese playbook of the last 15 years. Allow some free market reforms to get the economy going while ratcheting down on personal freedoms and increasing state control. I feel for the European countries that are at the end of the Russian gas and oil pipelines. Putin would not hesitate to use it as a weapon to dominate with...remember Yukos?

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