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By Jeff Brewer



The Russian menace is back for more.  Dormant for nearly a decade after Reagan’s Star Wars bankrupted his commie predecessors, the new and I dare say improved (in some respects) Russian Bear is prowling o’er the globe once again.  And as was the case the first time around, the Kremlin has one principle aim in their renewed contentious demeanor:  To challenge the hegemonic status of the United States at every possible point, across the globe. 

But this edition of the Bear is potentially more dangerous and more fearsome than even those old Soviets.  Vladimir Putin is seeing to that.  The former KGB secret agent has struck a decidedly defiant, even disrespectful posture in his attempts to undermine American influence around the world.  Putin’s penchant for overt assistance to rouge nations, to states with the ability to agitate American primacy in certain regional power schemes, is particularly disheartening, because such openly defiant behavior on the part of Russia testifies and directly contributes to a general erosion of American super-power status throughout the world.  And although this “war by proxy” sort of agitation was the chief modus operandi employed by the Soviets throughout the Cold War, Putin’s version is not the least bit covert; the fearless Russians aren’t shy about telling any and everyone who they’re doing business with (Without fear of reprisal from the U.S., why should the Russians be afraid to do just this?).  The Bear unambiguously sells weapons and technology to the Iranians and to the Chinese and to the North Koreans and to the Syrians and to the Sudanese and to the Libyans and to the Indians.

In other words, to anyone who has or might have a beef with the United States or American allies. 

Russia’s selling of arms to all states, belligerent or otherwise, strikes me as further evidence of a declining American deterrence, worldwide.  Sure, Russia is desperate for cash, and state of the art technologies and even Cold War relics bring a pretty penny on the open market; the typical third-world Arab or Asian dictator is more than eager to purchase ballistic missile technology at or below cost and more than willing to have Russian experts build nuclear reactors inside their state (The Russians are happy to oblige, as they can raise funds and at the same time, weaken the hated Americans). But the fact that Putin exhibits such a fearless disregard for the status quo in regards to tacit agreements with the U.S. and other nations in areas of non-proliferation (see recent weapons-purchase accord signed with Iran), speaks of a bold contempt for American sentiment. 

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If you doubt the seriousness of the matter, allow me to catalog just the past four months worth of defiant Russian behavior:

·      Putin’s stance against President Bush’s proposed missile defense shield;

·      Moscow and communist Beijing’s growing alliance and scheduled summit for early summer;

·      Putin’s blatant lie to NATO and to the United States concerning the transporting of nuclear weapons from the mainland of Russia into the formerly “nuclear free” region of Kaliningrad--this denial despite conclusive satellite reconnaissance that shows nuclear tipped missiles in this Baltic region;

·      The alluded to agreement reached between Tehran and Moscow, March 13th, which cemented the abandonment of a 1995 agreement Russia had entered into with the U.S.

·      And last month, the Russians completed negotiations with India that will see Moscow sell some $600 million worth of battle tanks and various weapons systems to the Asian power.

Much of the blame for the recently flagrant behavior of Putin can be placed at the feet of the preceding American administration, a cabal of utopians who looked at Russia through rose-colored glasses.  Instead of holding Russia accountable for it’s violations of bi-lateral agreements and for it’s wasting of billions in foreign aid, the Clinton administration seemingly looked the other way (See algore).  Meanwhile, the Bear broke every rule in the book, dishing out technology and ships by the tonnage. Consequently, President Bush has inherited a crisis-in-waiting, a geopolitical landscape that hourly, grows increasingly unfriendly to American interests, because stronger enemies pose stronger threats to American security.

Consider the missile procurement by Iran.  The Islamic radicals in charge, like their Islamic Arab allies to the west, are stridently anti-Israeli and anti-American.  A stronger Persia makes for a more credible Arab-Iranian effort to “liberate” Palestine from those eeeevil Israelis.  Consequently, the United States must now pay more attention to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis at a time when many world observers feel the United States, as peace broker, is a bad idea.

And this is just one of the many complications that a resurgent, defiant Russia poses to the United States.  Russia’s hypocritical aversion to an American missile defense shield is particularly puzzling, seeing as Putin maintains his desire to stay on good terms with the U.S. (though there is substantial evidence documented by a former CIA agent that says Russia has it’s own version of an ABM shield).  But why then would he oppose an anti-ballistic missile defense built by Americans for Americans??  Unless of course, he plans on one day lobbing nukes towards a conveniently defenseless United States.

But the new administration must not treat these recent actions of an impudent Russian Federation as merely the dealings of a peaceful nation in need of cash flow to jump-start a burgeoning capitalist economy.  We know that’s a load!  Indeed, in order to regain leverage in the geopolitical arena, America must return to its policy of firmness and resolve, wherein we aren’t afraid to ruffle the feathers of our enemies, ala the tactics of Clinton and Albright.  If we don’t contain the Russians and head off their attempts to arm our enemies around the globe, we’ll have only ourselves to blame when the United States gets pulled into multiple crises in Asia, the Middle East and perhaps even Africa.  U.S. Hegemony depends on President Bush not treating these commies as “strategic partners”, whatever that means, and instead presenting a credible, decisive deterrence to Russian insolence.  That means punishing them when they break accords with impunity.

Putin’s boldness notwithstanding, we must remember that this edition of the Russian Bear is not as formidable as the USSR, although it seems like some American policy makers think it so.  Firmness worked for the great Ronald Reagan when he finished off those godless Reds.  And now, all George W. Bush has to contend with is some bankrupt upstart, whose claim to fame is being a former Russian spook. 

We, therefore, have no choice but to win one for the Gipper.

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© Jeff Brewer, 2001

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