Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Return of the Cold War

Putin has threatened to withdraw from the arms control treaty that dismantled the Cold War in response to US plans to install missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. Webloggin traces the history of the crisis and asks whether we are on the verge of a new Cold War. Here's the news from the Telegraph:

Russia is to withdraw from Europe's key arms control treaty in response to United States plans to install missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, Vladimir Putin announced yesterday.

The Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in the dying months of the Cold War, is regarded as the cornerstone of stability in Europe. It places limits on the number of conventional weapons and foreign forces that can be deployed among member nations.

In the first indication that the United States was losing patience with Moscow's intransigence on the issue, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, yesterday described Russia's fears as "ludicrous". "The Russians have thousands of warheads," she told a press conference in Oslo prior to a Nato meeting. "The idea that somehow you can stop the Russian strategic nuclear deterrent with a few interceptors just doesn't make sense."

Mr Putin said he had decided to declare a moratorium on an updated version of the treaty because Nato powers had failed to ratify it. The United States and its Nato allies have said they would not ratify the treaty until Russia withdrew its troops from Moscow-backed breakaway republics in Georgia and Moldova - an argument the Kremlin dismisses as a pretext to allow Washington to boost its military presence in eastern Europe.


The missile defense shield was intended primarily to defend Europe against a limited nuclear attack from emerging powers like Iran. That Vladimir Putin has chosen to link a defense against the Iranian threat with the arms control agreemnts which spelled the end of the Cold War means he is giving Europe a choice between restarting the tension with Moscow or preventing Iran from becoming a new nuclear power. The West can have one or the other, but not both.

This amounts to an objective alliance between Moscow and Teheran. A new Cold War has started with a new lineup. Perhaps it had already begun earlier had the West but the wit to sense it. With the mood in Congress being what it is, it is entirely possible that the Democrats will urge the President to abandon the plans for the missile defense of Europe, effectively giving Iran the power of blackmail over an already terrified and cowed Continent. Having acquired the taste to withdraw, why not withdraw further? If backward is good, further backward is even better. The enemy goes from strength to strength and the Western leadership remains stuck on a circular track in a virtual Munich.


Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Just wait...

iran will give a nuke to a moslem "militant" and Moscow will cease to exist...

get the popcorn ready, the show is starting

4/27/2007 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I can only assume that Czar, uh..., Premier, uh..., President Putin somehow has forgotten that we won the last Cold War, hands down.

I guess they liked those USAF C-5's flying emergency supplies of PopTarts into their country and individual Russian units selling their jet fighters to get money to buy food so much that they decided to set things up for it to happen all over again.

4/27/2007 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Putin is essentially correct. Removing the missile defense from Europe will make the Europeans much more circumspect regards the threat from Jihadists.

4/27/2007 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Putin is essentially correct. Removing the missile defense from Europe will make the Europeans much more circumspect regards the threat from Jihadists.

That's an interesting way to put it. But why not the opposite effect? If Putin plays his cards carefully he will be able to usefully threaten Europe by proxy in certain situations by acting through a silent Islamic partner.

Russia was always a player in Southwest Asia, and until recently the dominant patron of the Arab states. Moscow historically used the Arab states as stooges to advance their interests. Russia is not proscribed from creating its own missile defense and besides, Iran probably knows that any use of nuclear weapons against Russia would mean an Iranian holocaust. The Eastern Europeans have neither a nuclear strike capability nor a defense. The reason they joined NATO was to snuggle under its defense shield. If Putin succeeds in entering into a secret arrangement with Iran he would have a powerful weapon with which to intimidate Eastern Europe. If he forces America to leave them in the lurch he would discredit America even more. Not only would the Iraqis realize that the US guarantee was worthless, but so would the Poles.

4/27/2007 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

At the recently concluded debate between Democrat Presidential candidates the participants were asked what they would do if al-Qaeda nuked two American cities.

In one of moderator Brian Williams' more provocative questions of the evening about how the candidates would respond to a terrorist attack on two American cities, Obama first spoke about emergency response and then spoke of intelligence failures.

His answer was in marked contrast to those provided by Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who began their responses with finding out who was responsible and responding with military action.

Obama appeared uncomfortable with his initial response and came back to the issue of terrorism to add some muscle to it later on.

These are non-answers. If nobody claims responsibility for a nuclear attack what are the odds that those future Presidents will launch a nuclear attack on the strength of an intelligence estimate?

If al-Qaeda admitted responsibility then there's no one to nuke back. All these future Democrat Presidents could do would be to reprise some version of Operation Iraqi Freedom unless they plan on treating the attack as a police investigation and dispatch men to "arrest" Osama Bin Laden.

Their responses illustrate more than anything else just how bankrupt their current strategic thinking is. It amounts to criticism and withdrawal or alternatively, withdrawal and criticism.

4/27/2007 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Oengus Moonbones said...

The Perspicacious Wretchard: "It amounts to criticism and withdrawal or alternatively, withdrawal and criticism."

Here's some doggerel for celebrating the withdrawal:

Defeat! Defeat! Defeat!
Everywhere De-Feet!
We may as well surrender now,
Defeat! Defeat! Defeat!

Rather's in a lather,
And Jenning's in a funk,
Browkaw, he has fainted;
All our courage, it has shrunk.
The Jihadis, they are winning,
Their carbombs are too much;
Our soldiers have no stomach
For the blood and gore and guts.

Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!
Bugle sound retreat!
We may as well surrender now,
Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!

The Prez, oh, he is lying,
Or Michael Moore has said,
So better to bail out now,
’Cause we’re better slaves than dead.
We’re Progressive but self-hating,
’cause we still drive SUVs,
But we’ll gladly don our burqas
and learn to dhimmees be.

Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!
Run on these our feet!
We may as well surrender now,
Defeat! Defeat! Defeat!

Effete! Effete! Effete!
The French are so effete!
We may as well be like them now
Retreat! Retreat! Retreat!

4/27/2007 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

W: "Iran probably knows that any use of nuclear weapons against Russia would mean an Iranian holocaust. "

Europe is just as capable of delivering a similar response.


W: "If al-Qaeda admitted responsibility then there's no one to nuke back."

You got to be kidding me.


Btw, the largest conventional force in NATO (excluding that of the US of course) is that of Turkey. Who are the Turks so afraid of? And why?

4/27/2007 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger ricpic said...

The Kingdom of Muscovy is going to start a new cold war? Don't make me laugh.

4/27/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Cybrludite said...

This seems to be a hollow threat on Putin's part. What is he going to use to build up his ground forces back above what was allowed by the CFE treaty? The kleptocrats who've been running Russia have stripped the coffers bare. The massive stockpiles of cold war military equipment have either been sold off or left to rust in open-air motor pools and ammo dumps.

4/27/2007 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new cold war serves Russian interests vastly more than our own. What if they called a cold war and nobody came? I.e. just ignore them, or perhaps act concerned if we actually want to give support to the hardliners.

4/27/2007 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

If al-Qaeda admitted responsibility then there's no one to nuke back.

Actually, there is. One of the reasons why letting Hamas win the legislative elections in Palestine makes sense is in order to give us a target when (or if) al-Qaeda attacks us again. Hamas celebrated the September 11 attacks; that alone gives us reason to nuke Gaza once any American city is nuked.

Also, there is Riyadh. The fact is, al-Qaeda is the foreign relations arm of the Saudi religious police and ultimately the Saudi ulema. Although the Saudi royal family has kept power through walking a tightrope between the Ikhwan and an outside foreign power, there is little reason to the United States to tolerate any Saudi government official who gives aid and comfort to al-Qaeda in particular and the cult of suicide bombing in general. The fact that a part of Saudi Arabia's government apparatus is in revolt against the royal family in no manner discounts the Saudi government's complicity in terrorism against Americans. Unless Americans are at least willing to contemplate wholesale retaliation against Saudis if American cities get nuked, there is ample reason for Saudis to think they can get away with sending money to both Osama bin Laden and lobbyists in Washington.

So, there are targets if al-Qaeda attacks us with nukes. The question is whether anyone inside the Beltway will be able to break the spell of the Saudi Lobby.

4/28/2007 10:28:00 PM  

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