You've Got to Know When to Hold Up, Know When to Fold Up
Austin Bay argues that Russia unsucessfully tried to bluff Europe into rejecting a limited missile defense.
The Cold Spell ended quickly. Despite the sensationalist “Cold War” revival rhetoric, the mutual interests bind the US and Russia –and Russia and Europe. The Russian threat to “re-target” missiles and point them at Europe was bluster and threat. That’s right, Mr Putin, threaten to destroy your consumers. Assuming Russia survived its limited war with the US and Europe, its Atlantic-less future would be rather limited: a trans-Ural oil vassal of China might be a better deal than Islamist satrap.
Austin quotes a recent New York Times article which reveals Russia's real concerns. "After months of angrily rejecting a White House plan for missile defense in Europe, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia surprised President Bush on Thursday with an offer to build a joint system in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. The proposed system, designed to guard against a missile attack from Iran, poses serious diplomatic and technical challenges, experts said. But the fact that it was suggested by Mr. Putin, and not immediately rejected by Mr. Bush, indicated a desire on both sides to cool the hostile exchanges that in recent months had driven relations to a low point in the post-cold-war era." Austin Bay says, "As I’ve argued many times, the missile defense argument is a charade. Russia needs missile protection – from the east and south. It also needs western allies."
The really interesting theme here is that while Europe and Russia may tactically want to embarass the United States for short-term political gain, strategically their weakness requires that America continue to remain the hegemon so that they can pursue their business schemes from behind its protection. Twit America to be sure, but don't damage it fatally because, if God forbid, the hated USA actually collapsed, then neither Russia nor Europe would have the means to protect themselves a chaotic world. There's a moral in there somewhere too for domestic Leftists who call for the downfall of America on their way to buy a good bottle of vintage wine. Power to the people! Long live Hugo Chavez and Osama Bin Laden! But not yet. Not yet.