Streetwise Professor

September 17, 2009

Children, Fools, Drunkards–and Obama?

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:34 pm

To say I think that Obama has made a serious mistake in pulling the rug out from under Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense would be an understatement.  It is both a crime, and a blunder.

I am skeptical of the proposed alternatives.  I’m a Navy guy all the way, but even though the alternative scheme mentioned by Obama puts the Navy’s Aegis cruisers and the SM-3 missile center stage, there seem to be serious problems.  Where would the ships operate?  The Persian Gulf is not the optimal place to intercept Iranian missiles headed for Europe.  And what’s more, the Gulf’s waters are very constrained and ships operating there face substantial risks from a variety of threats (subs, mines, missile attacks, suicide operations, and on and on).  The Black Sea would be a better place for an intercept, but the Montreux Convention basically rules that out.  And no way Russia would want US ships there anyways, so we would just be trading one dispute for another.

One of Obama’s military advisors said that Turkey and the Balkans would be better sites for land based interceptors than Poland or the Czech Republic.  Uhm, anybody noticed that relations with Turkey have been testy since at least 2003?  And do you think that Turkey just might try to extract as much from us as possible in exchange for the privilege?  I do.  And who’s to say that the position there wouldn’t be a constant source of potential Turkish blackmail?  I’d also like to know just where in the island of stability that is the Balkans that we would want to put such a sensitive and expensive installation.  And would the Russians be any less paranoid about an installation there–especially inasmuch as they view the Balkans as part of their zone of special interest?

So, the decision is not defensible on purely military grounds, IMHO.   It is even less defensible on political and diplomatic grounds.  Indeed, on these grounds it is offensive.

The spin being put on this is that it is part of a strategy to get the Russians onside with putting pressure on Iran.

As if.

They’ll just pocket this unilateral concession and ask for more and more.  Hell, we gave them this in exchange for nothing tangible just because they’ve been throwing a tantrum, so the lesson that they will take from this is that being difficult is the way to get what they want.  What’s more, (a) there’s considerable room for doubt that Russia could seriously pressure the Iranians if it had the will to, and (b) it might not have the will to, because Russia benefits from the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East for a variety of reasons.

All of the signals that the Russians gave last week, with the minor exception of a statement made by the almost certainly irrelevant Medvedev, suggest that they are not at all interested in helping on Iran.  Lavrov claimed to see much constructive in the Iranian letter which was, in fact, just a big FU.  (The Iranians might as well have hired John Cleese to read it from a castle wall, and cap it off with a big raspberrry.)  He also made the risible statement that Iran was not engaged in “Islamic terrorism.”  Besides being politically incorrect (ROP and all, dotcha know), the inclusion of the modifier “Islamic” is irrelevant and insulting.  Tell the Jews slaughtered in Buenos Aires about the fine distinctions between “Islamic” terrorism and whatever type Iran practices.  Iran is a major funder and supporter of terror and terror organizations, and for Lavrov to insinuate otherwise is an insult to our intelligence.

Russian revanchism, raging resentment of the United States, zero sum view of the world, and myriad other factors will mean that this unreciprocated, unilateral concession will not soften Russian behavior one bit.

To the contrary, this–plus the capitulation on the Opel deal–will just convince Putin, Lavrov, et al, that obstreperousness pays.  It will feed their aggressiveness.  They will respond to this by raising the pressure on Obama, not by breaking into a chorus of Kumbaya.

My prediction: When the Obama administration, with a hurt look, next complains about Russian uncooperativeness despite its unilateral gesture, the Russians will reply exactly the way that it did recently when OPEC complained about Russian double dealing: “We didn’t promise you anything.  Get over it.”  All take.  No give.

Obama should have been smart and learned something from Reagan and Reykjavik.  To get a deal, you need to have to be able to say no.  And to figure out how badly the other side wants to deal, and what they’re willing to give in return, the best thing to do is to walk and let them chase you down.  Why buy the cow, etc.

And the timing is absolutely, positively, appalling.  September 17, the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.  And after weeks when the historical sensitivities of Poland and other Eastern European nations were the subject of myriad articles and editorials in newspapers and magazines around the world–so it’s not like there’s any excuse for ignorance.   It is hard to know which would be worse: was this amazing timing a deliberate insult or just an oversight?  There’s no third alternative.

What better way to convey to Eastern European nations that they are again just Great Power trading cards? Small, far away nations populated by those of whom we know nothing, and couldn’t care about less.   It is yet another appalling American betrayal.  Appalling enough in substance. Trebly appalling in its callous and shabby execution.  Why should anybody trust us?  Hell, I don’t trust us.  Not now, anyways.

Obama, in short, has seriously damaged American interests.  He has given up a lot, and gotten absolutely nothing in return.  He has not advanced the efforts to slow the Iranian race to the bomb a bit.  But he has greatly increased the odds of serious problems throughout Eastern Europe, no doubt starting in Ukraine, but definitely not ending there.

Perhaps Obama is thinking that he is engaged in Bismarckian realpolitik.  But the only way Bismarck comes to my mind in this context is to recall his aphorism about a special providence for children, fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.  Obama seems hell bent on testing just how special that providence is.

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30 Comments »

  1. Of everything, doing it on the anniversary of the invasion seems the most shocking. It is either shockingly stupid or shockingly insulting. If it is an oversight it is a completely unforgivable one. No one noticed? No one in the WH or the State Dept. ever sat in high-school level history class? That is all it would have taken.

    It boggles the mind how it couldn’t be deliberate, but even if it weren’t, that would only release it to be the most conspicuously moronic foreign policy move in recent memory. That is saying something with Obama’s UK insults, Clinton’s red button, and Sarkozy’s Georgian peace deal still resting in short term memory.

    Comment by ThomasL — September 17, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  2. ThomasL–

    Hear, hear.

    I keep coming back to Reagan at Reykjavik, and what followed. That’s how you deal. Who knows whether Reagan was pretending, or was really ideologically committed to missile defense? The thing is, by convincing Gorbachev that he wasn’t willing to sell it cheap, for whatever reason, he decisively changed the entire trajectory of the conflict and hastened its ultimate resolution. The whole Obama negotiating “strategy”–if you can call it that–is a how not to manual. Even if you think the thing is a turkey, you have to pretend it’s your first love, so as to extract the best deal. Especially since the Russians have made such a big deal out of it, don’t sell it cheap.

    Hell, Obama didn’t even sell it cheap. He gave it away. Un-freaking-believable.

    And, you are right, right, right, that the utterly shabby way in which this is done is inexcusable. And as I say in the post, even if they DID fall asleep during that history class, hell pick up any news mag or newspaper from the last two weeks and there are stories upon stories about Molotov-Ribbentrop, the historical legacy of the Soviet invasion, Katyn, the deep sensitivity about those historical events. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not knowing. None.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 17, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

  3. Wow! Wow! Wow! SWP, you hit the nail on the head.

    The kindergartners in the Obama administration – apparently, they are so full of their “goodness,” and kowtowing to the kremlin, that they ignored the significance of September 17 to Poland.

    Bow down to Putler – forget about Poland being invaded by Russia.

    And for what?

    Comment by elmer — September 17, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  4. This is another Chamberlain / Munich cave… Obama’s “bought peace” (gotten Russia to ‘cooperate’ on Iran) for the rest of the world. Wow, a check of a few Russian media (RIAN, Kommersant) all have this as headlines. Wonderful. Obama caves in full view of the whole Russian nation. Even cited polls saying majority of Americans were against spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the defense systems… Really?! So let’s see, in keeping in standard Kremlin playbook, we’re going to see tanks rumbling across some border country again… Well, let’s see if we get any play on Iran.

    Any bets the Israelis will just get fed up and do it before its too late?

    Comment by Kavkazwatcher — September 18, 2009 @ 1:22 am

  5. GLORY TO OBAMA! GLORY TO THE US! GLORY TO RUSSIA!

    Comment by poluchi fashist granatu — September 18, 2009 @ 1:39 am

  6. […] Professor: Children, Fools, Drunkards–and Obama? And the timing is absolutely, positively, appalling. September 17, the anniversary of the Soviet […]

    Pingback by USA Politics - Hamster Wheel - Page 7 - PPRuNe Forums — September 18, 2009 @ 3:23 am

  7. “My prediction: When the Obama administration, with a hurt look, next complains about Russian uncooperativeness despite its unilateral gesture, the Russians will reply exactly the way that it did recently when OPEC complained about Russian double dealing: ‘We didn’t promise you anything. Get over it.’ All take. No give.”

    ****

    Russia and BS aside, it’s in America’s interests to shelve the missile defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic. Thursday’s World Focus had a segment which dealt with that matter.

    As someone noted, the “quid pro quo” has Russia not deploying nukes in Kaliningrad.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 18, 2009 @ 4:19 am

  8. “What better way to convey to Eastern European nations that they are again just Great Power trading cards?”

    Anybody actually ask them? Public opinion in the Czech Republic was against the thing.

    “Chamberlain / Munich cave”? Nope. The Chamberlain/Munich thing was all about protecting Neville’s new best buddy Adolph from the consequences “…if Russia were attacked…”.

    Nothing like that going on here.

    Comment by rkka — September 18, 2009 @ 4:59 am

  9. I understand that public opinion in Poland has shown signs of not being so strongly in support of the scrapped plan as some might otherwise think.

    Regarding the earlier rhetorical reference to Sept. 17, note where Vilnius, Galicia, Bukovina, Trans-Carpathia and Transnistria were before the Nazi-Soviet get together.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 18, 2009 @ 5:54 am

  10. Whoa, two kool-aid drinkers in succession!

    I really had not paid attention to World Focus, but apparently its a young organization, with little depth. Then I tried to find this segment dealing with the issue, at least I found one at: http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/09/17/obama-switches-course-on-european-missile-defense/7317/ – you should see it to find the classic example of facial cues of (dare I say it) … a liar! … – with very little backtracking you can see Heather Conley’s other video presentations and her blink rate moderates on topics. She must have been “wonderful” as a diplomat for us.

    Next one – quid pro quo for Russia deploying Iskander missiles in Konigsberg (sorry, I mean Kaliningrad that ancient piece of mother Russia) – LOL! right, the deployment Iskander missile units which won’t even exist till 2016 (if at all given the shambles of military production there). Lavrov withdrew this quid back in January (and apparently expected the quo for some time now). Good article on it: http://www.irantracker.org/analysis/eastern-european-missile-defense-russias-threat-assessment-and-iran — Polish military feel that the Iskander deployment WILL take place regardless of the US relationship as part of normal military upgrade in 2016 or later whenever the units actually come on line. So if this is part of Barack’s rationale – well, he’s either wrong or… (the L word)…

    Re: Czech public opinion, where do you find that? Even in RIA Novosti, a Mouth of Sauron, they say the Czechs and Poles are all saddened by Barack’s appeasement. See: http://rian.ru/world/20090918/185505275.html – about 2/3 of the way through it starts talking about the Czech and Polish reaction. Can RIAN be (gasp) saying something different than rkka?

    Lastly – this thing about Munich being about protecting Hitler- ROTFL! its straight out of the recent propaganda releases from other Mouths justifying the Molotov-Ribentropp pact.

    That was some really powerful kool-aid this time. Thanks for the laughs…

    Comment by Kavkazwatcher — September 18, 2009 @ 6:35 am

  11. The West owes Russia a lot after what it did to it in the 1990s.

    Consider this the beginning of MANY, MANY concessions that the West will make to make-up for its behavior since the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Comment by carmen — September 18, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  12. Carmen–

    Wow. You take the prize for the dumbest comment ever posted on this site.

    Get an effing grip. The US didn’t do jack to Russia. The West didn’t do jack to Russia.

    What happened to Russia in the 1990s was completely homemade. Russia reaped what it had been sowing for centuries, but especially during the Soviet period.

    Denial ain’t a river in Egypt.

    This whining about how poor, poor Russia was mistreated by the big bad West is so grating–and so wrong.

    Until Russia grows up and faces its own problems with honesty, it is doomed to continue its death spiral. Your kind of spew is just the enabling behavior that will condemn Russia–and millions of Russians–to many more years of purgatory.

    Have fun with that.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 18, 2009 @ 10:46 am

  13. I complete agree with carmen’s “dumbest” comment.

    The West ruthlessly exploited Russia in the 1990’s, with the connivance of Russia’s criminal leaders of the time. Only God can now forgive them.

    One small thing I agree with you on, however, is that Russia was partly responsible. It should have known better that the West hates it and would seize any opportunity to pull it down. Thankfully under Putin Russia knows the way the real world works better – either be a master, or be a slave – and is now pursuing its own interests, even if it’s in defiance of Western diktat.

    But I’m 100% OK with that. For as a famous Mexican revolutionary once said, it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees. Truer words were never spoken.

    Comment by poluchi fashist granatu — September 18, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  14. Russians gave away deployment of missiles in Kaliningrad and that should mean something? It is exactly the same kind of deal as Soviet proposal to dismiss Warsaw Pact if same would do Americans with NATO in 50s. Warsaw Pact was just a paper organization at that time, this is the same thing – missile defense is a lot more than a couple rockets in Kaliningrad. They mean nothing – Russian Strategic Rocket Forces are able to annihilate whole Europe from their launch sites in Russia itself. So nobody in Central Europe really cared about deployment of Iskanders in Kalingrad – 10 more rockets aimed at us, so what? But still, even so Obama is idealist and that is very dangerous especially when he sits in White House, Russians are not strong enough to do anything direct against both Poland and Czech Republic. Same goes for Baltic states because all those states are already NATO members. Only Ukraine and Georgia has problem. I would like to see your reaction on Russian military intervention in Ukraine for example during their presidential elections, you would defend their right to do so, Cutie pie, would you not? After all, Ukraine was part of USSR..

    Comment by Deith — September 18, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  15. On that last point, you’re being overly presumptuous Deith.

    Russia recognizes Ukraine as an independent state and so do I.

    Feel free to show how there’s a great probability of “Russian military intervention in Ukraine for example during their presidential elections.”

    On another point of yours, the missile defense program was scrapped because it wasn’t seen as a reasonable option to pursue in relation to American (not Russian) interests.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 18, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

  16. Main point was that Russians gave nothing for missile defense. They did not and most likely even will not (I agree with article that Obama’s decision is considered as weakness from their point of view). Obama gave it away because he is naive idealist who think that smile will solve every problem. Well, I do not really care. He can only work against American interests and not those of Czech Republic. We are safe here even without direct American military presence. But Poles have different experience with Russians as they were stabbed in back by them during WWII. They do not feel so safe as we do. I can understand why they insist on deployment of American forces much more.

    Ukraine as independent state, same goes for Georgia, does it not? And it did not stop Russians from marching right into it. Also, how much independent do Russians consider these states? Russians like to speak about spheres of influence and zone of special interest and other gibberish and when some of their neighbours take a pro-West turn/decision they shout and threaten or blackmail (Belarus and milk war). For example, statement of Chief of Russian General Staff that Black Sea Fleet will stay in its base in Ukraine after 2017 even if current treaty between Russia and Ukraine about deployment of BS Fleet was not prolonged. Is this how nation should view independence of its neighbours? By ignoring what its government wishes? By giving them orders whether they can join NATO or not? By forging elections like those before Orange revolution? Russians really want others to be independent. Just as much as is South Ossetia…

    I do not get it how is it possible that Russians/Soviets/Commies are so much defended and loved in USA and West. Is it because you never saw any Russian, never lived under their rule or “temporary presence” of their military which lasted for 20 years, at least in CR (so it actually was temporary, but thanks to Czech people and not Soviet leaders)? Maybe because all your experience with Russia or Soviet Union comes from books? Or maybe because you simply dislike your own country and actions your government takes? Russians generally view their country as the best in the world. I do not think same goes for majority of Americans. Can you answer me please, I am really curious – if you dislike things in America and like things in Russia why do not you simply move to Russia and become Russian citizen? Everything is fine under Putin, it is the West who is bad and hypocrite according to your objective view. Someone with your great moral standard should live in country with equal moral standard, like Russia…

    Comment by Deith — September 18, 2009 @ 6:54 pm

  17. Besides withdrawing on the idea of putting nukes in Kaliningrad, Russia doesn’t have to give “anything,” in reply to the decision to scrap the missile defense shield.

    Now former DM Ivanov said Russia will withdraw its fleet from Crimea if a new lease isn’t agreed on. Please show me a link regarding what you say that another Russian offcial said on the subject.

    The manner of some Western NGOs and their Ukrainian Orange supporters relate to “forging” an election in Ukraine. The monitoring from them left something to be desired.

    Truth be told, Poland has a history of aggression and occupation against others.

    There’re Americans living in America who criticize some aspects about that country. Likewise, there’re Russians in Russia who state criticism about their country.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 18, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

  18. What if this entire build BMD in Eastern Europe thingy was to ruse to get a concession or two from Russia?

    It didn’t work because Russia instead offering concessions (appeasement) it stuck to its guns and simply said “if you do that, we will do this”.

    Forget about concessions from Russia, it is no longer weak.

    Comment by lisa — September 18, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  19. That is how cooperation should work according to you? That Americans will back up from their plans every time and all Russians will do is nod? That Russians do not have to at least pressure Tehran or let UN resolutions pass? That is very one sided, objective Cutie Pie. And Putin already asked for more, like hi-tech deals. They would like American technology and most likely for free, again. That is Russian way for reset, that is way Russia wishes to “cooperate” with other nations. Why not? Russia does it already, they buy air-drones from Israel while they send weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah..

    Statement of Russian top military commander: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090714/155525174.html
    Please show me a link regarding what you say that another Russian official said on the subject, objective Cutie Pie.

    Indeed, you are absolutely right, objective Cutie Pie. Presidential elections in Ukraine were not forged. So the protests that started because of this forging were just some kind of CIA operation…

    “Truth to be told..” Haha, Poland and history of aggression. Fine, I name every conflict with Russian aggression in last century and you will do the same with Poland, okay? So, Poland 1939, Estonia 1939, Latvia 1939, Lithuania 1939, Finland 1939, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Afghanistan 1980. That is just for a “few” conflicts. I really, really wonder, will you be able to come up with more, objective Cutie Pie? (I did not considered actions of Sorge that directed Japanese at Americans instead of Russians in 1941 as aggression.).

    Yes, the difference is that Americans have freedom of expression and Russians do not. You may be openly anti-American, write government is stupid in newspaper and be still alive. This does not work in Russia. Journalists in Russia are threatened and killed if they speak against government. There is far less Russians criticizing Russian government than Americans criticizing American government. But less criticism in Russia does not mean its government is more supported by people. They just learned to stay silent over the years, because it is much safer. Truly desirable place to live, that Russia. Maybe that is why you do not move into country with higher moral standard than USA has? But than you are just a hypocrite, objective Cutie Pie.

    Truly, I cannot see things as clearly as you do, objective Cutie Pie. I am unfortunately biased by immediate experience with Russians, their word and deed game, sphere of influence talk and others. I already saw how Russian propaganda works in era of communism, so I do not react with much delight to current statements and actions of Russian leaders. But one has to be objective that is modern nowadays, just like anti-Americanism. Which is stupid, since only thing objective on this world is death…

    Comment by Deith — September 18, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  20. Lisa

    Another way of looking at it is to note how some seem to think that Russia owes something in reply to a decision to scrap a faulty plan.

    Deith

    The Czechs enthusiastically welcomed the Red Army into Prague. The Soviet Union was a multiethnic conglomerate of sorts with Russia as the largest of the republics in it.
    It’s inaccurate to suggest that there weren’t non-Russian Communists in the USSR and outside of it.

    Poland had a history of aggression and occupation before the USSRs’ creation. The same can be said of some others did as well. Singling out Russia in the way that some choose is hypocritical and bigoted.

    The Russian officer at that link doesn’t say that the Russian Black Sea fleet will remain in Crimea if no new lease is signed past 2017. Ivanov’s comments were stated in a TV news piece that I saw.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 18, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  21. Deith,

    All you points are covered and rebutted in just the following two articles:

    Responses to common Russophobe “Arguments”
    Russophobe Myths

    Comment by poluchi fashist granatu — September 19, 2009 @ 12:30 am

  22. “Ukraine as independent state, same goes for Georgia, does it not? And it did not stop Russians from marching right into it. ”

    Deith, the Ukrainian government are not quite so insane as to fire a massed cannon and rocket artillery strike on Russian soldiers on an internationally-recognized peacekeeping mission.

    Loony Saak the tie-muncher on the other hand, was.

    When you fire a massed cannon and rocket artillery strike on Russian soldiers on an internationally-recognized peacekeeping mission, their buddies will come down, destroy your shiny US/Israeli trained and equipped Army, and thoroughly wreck the military infrastructure from which you launched the attack, and you will deserve every single bit of it.

    And even loony Saak seems to have learned from the painful experience. This past August RFE and Robert Amsterdam, and Phoby were full of breathless prognostications of another Russia-Georgia war. Felgy quotes all over the map. I said “Only if loony Saak starts it.” And guess what! There was no Russia-Georgia war!

    So even Loony Saak the tie-muncher can learn from painful experience! Too bad about all the people who paid the real price for his expensive education…

    Comment by rkka — September 19, 2009 @ 7:14 am

  23. Like a certain Swede, Felgy has a knack for reappearing at some name venues.

    Deith

    Here’s a link supporting what I said about Ivanov:

    http://sunit_83.instablogs.com/entry/crimea-a-potential-flashpoint-in-russia-west-relations/

    Note that Yanukovych (who leads the polls for the Ukrainian presidency) is in favor of the Russian navy possibly staying in Crimea past 2017.

    Pardon if this note is repeated. Prior attempts were unsuccessful.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 19, 2009 @ 7:41 am

  24. So in other words, you say a lot, but you provide no sources for your claims. Why should I believe you, my dear? You did not give a single source for Polish aggression. There were few, I know about them. Things is, you do not and still use it as an argument. And also, Poles had no gulag, no Katyn, no “liberation” of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and others. No plans for world domination, like Soviet Comintern. Compare those who died in wars against aggressive Poland and aggressive USSR. Numbers tell you, who of us is hypocrite here.

    “We have not set ourselves a goal of leaving Sevastopol,” Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.
    Are you absolutely unable to do simple logic operation? He said RF has no plans to leave Sevastopol which means they will stay there. Do you got it now? That is said by Chief of General Staff who is second in military command, subordinated only to president (or Putin, in Russian “democracy”).

    Czechs welcomed Red Army?! Czechs welcomed armies of Warsaw Pact in 1968?! Did you study high school in Russia, did you not? They for example still teach their kids, how evil Finns started artillery barrage in 1939 (right at the time when Red Army was ready for attack), so Russians just “counter-attacked” and “liberated” part of Finland. And if you talk about 1945, you are right. We welcomed Red Army, they helped to defeat Nazism and many people, including me were grateful for this. I am happy that Soviet soldiers came, yet I am not so happy they brought us 40 years of communism and absolutely ruined our economy, taught us how West is evil and poor, filled us with hateful propaganda, exactly the same type you show here. And by the way, historical lesson for you. Communists were not voted to rule us absolutely (they were strongest party, but they did not have majority in cabinet), they took rest (all) of the power with force in 1948 and when Prague Spring came and our form of communism got milder (censorship was stopped for example), “brothers” in Kremlin sent their tank divisions again. This time, they were not welcomed (I do not count officers of StB, our version of KGB and other ideological supporters). Nowadays, commies get around 10% in elections here. Same kind of support was here for Soviets which meant Russians here after occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Everyone with brain is able to realize that Soviet Union was directed from Kremlin, from Moscow and not Ukraine, Georgia or other Soviet state.

    More posts I read from you, more I think you are not pro-Russian, but simply anti-American. I saw what Russians did here and I can very well imagine that to the east of us it could be only worse. So I do not like them very much (this goes for Russian government only, ordinary people are quite same all around the world). This means I side with Americans a lot, but not because I would like them so much, its just that I dislike Russian government and best way to oppose it is to stay on the side of “evil”. So, absolute majority of Central and Eastern Europeans side with West and most of them think the same way I do. They may not like West that much, but its a good protection against Russian imperialism and sphere of influence shit-talk. And who is responsible for this? Soviet and Russian government, not USA or CIA. If Soviets treated their “allies” in Eastern Bloc well, those allies would stay under Russian wing even after fall of Berlin Wall and would not hurry into arms of NATO. And you are exact opposite. What Americans did to you? Were you fired from work? Did they not let you to study at university? Absolute majority of people with direct experience with Russians strongly oppose them. Do you wonder why? Maybe because they are much, much more informed about them than people like you who just read some books, watch TV and Internet news…

    Comment by Deith — September 19, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  25. The only thing I agree with the Professor about this decision is that the historic timing with the 70th anniversary thing was unfortunate. They could have waited one more week.

    As for Deith long rambling rants aside, Cutie Pie is absolutely right that a majority of Poles and Czechs opposed the systems as militarily useless (for them) provocations and more likely using their country’s territory as bargaining chips in a larger game (hard to argue with that last point). Maybe the minority of Czechs and Poles that favored them were more powerful (here’s looking at you Radek Sikorski, married to Anne Applebaum, how goes the PL lobby influence over the WaPost editorial page these days?), but both nations are still NATO members, and Russia has no interest in refighting World War II. Ukraine is an entirely separate issue that will be resolved in the next twenty years with probably the western regions shaking out from the eastern regions and the Crimea, the latter of which was a part of Russia until the 1950s. I just don’t want American boys dying to defend a wildly unpopular government in Kyev and that’s why extending NATO membership to Ukraine, in addition to being anti-democratic and arrogantly disregarding of Ukrainian majority wishes, is a bad idea.

    As Anatoly Karlin (whatever handle he’s going by now) pointed out, the Poles are going to get more F-16s and SAMs as compensation. Russia should understand that Poland has historic fears and sensibilities just like they do and look the other way, besides they are also making money selling arms to Venezuela which is far less stable and responsible than PL. The biggest Clinton (and we owe Albright a lot for this) mistake in my view was expanding NATO membership beyond Poland’s frontiers, to the former Soviet republics, and bombing the hell out of Yugoslavia. Those were the two betrayals that made Russia think we really were out to screw them and encircle them at every turn and profited from their humiliation in the Nineties.

    The other arguments being advanced by the usual military industrial complex suspects/neocon Russophobes are blatantly bogus. Japan is more likely to go nuclear because of Poland? Only Wall Street Journal readers so brainwashed by that editorial page’s Russophobia can take such arguments seriously, while the WSJ goes on kissing Chinese ass because Uncle Sugar doesn’t have a prayer of maintaining his largesse without China buying our debt. Please. Japan is going to keep its options open, as any rational state would needing insurance in case two historic adversaries (in case a united Korea hangs on to NoKo nukes after reunification) and China ever decides to get aggressive.

    Comment by Steve J. Nelson — September 19, 2009 @ 8:57 am

  26. Main points ignored again that is truly best argument. But you are absolutely wrong, Cutie Pie said nothing about that Czechs and Poles opposed missile defense. It is true, at least here in Czech Republic, but it does not matter. Geopolitics were never about people and their opinion, Soviet Union crippled its whole economy and ultimately disintegrated because it spent almost all its money on arms against “evil” West. Soviet leaders started to believe their own propaganda and that ended Cold War.

    Wishes of majority against Ukraine membership in NATO? Show some polls and please not Russian ones, thanks. Ukrainians has right to decide where will their country head in elections, on the other hand Russians do not.. Opposition is not let to participate in elections, last example is old few days – Moscow. Except for one opposition member, candidature of others was refused because of “problems with signatures”. Well, it is great that just Ukraine has problems with corruption and dictatorship, is it not?

    Comment by Deith — September 19, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  27. Deith

    On an inquiry of yours, here’s a link supporting what I said about Ivanov:

    http://sunit_83.instablogs.com/entry/crimea-a-potential-flashpoint-in-russia-west-relations/

    Note that Yanukovych (who leads the polls for the Ukrainian presidency) is in favor of the Russian navy possible staying in Crimea past 2017.

    It’s one thing to have an opinion within reason. Quite another when it drifts from reality. Ukrainian opposition to NATO membership is greater than the support for such an entry.

    Comment by Cutie Pie — September 19, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  28. S/O–

    What’s with the goofy new name? I suggest you try instead, oh, I don’t know, Anita Getagrip, or Still Searching for the Correct Dosage.

    How big of you to acknowledge that Russia might have had some teeny, tiny responsibility for all of the misery it experienced in recent decades. Who knew?

    News flash: the exploitation of Russia was homegrown. Why don’t you name all of the American, German, English, or whatever oligarchs that came into Russia and plundered its fabulous wealth? [Crickets chirping.]

    Russians stole from Russians. Russians killed Russians to steal from other Russians. Russians ruthlessly exploited other Russians. Russians weren’t standing in the street in the freezing cold selling their used toothbrushes because of anything the US did in the 1990s.

    Your Putinist “dying on your feet” silliness ignores the fact that Russia is dying, period. That it is–by the stinging admission of its own president–dysfunctional in almost every way, and is becoming increasingly economically and socially regressive, despite this supposed newfound dignity.

    It is more than a little tragic that you, an intelligent individual, should embrace Putin’s sociopathic conceptions of respect and independence.

    You–and most self-styled Russophiles–are in serious need of a 12 step program. And, as I recall, such programs always begin with a required admission that one’s misery is first and foremost one’s own fault–and nobody else’s.

    In the meantime, you and Carmen have fun at your little pity party. You can cry if you want to.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 19, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  29. “News flash: the exploitation of Russia was homegrown. Why don’t you name all of the American, German, English, or whatever oligarchs that came into Russia and plundered its fabulous wealth?”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=DkcTS7QlXy4C&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=Morningstar+Chubais&source=bl&ots=8dsN1tGjUE&sig=t_Fc0JVrTpDI2bbyOnsvZPIC3f0&hl=en&ei=yBO2SpW8D4Sn8Aa6gamTDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=Morningstar%20Chubais&f=false

    “If we hadn’t been there to provide funding to Chubais, could we have won the battle to carry out privatization? Probably not. When you’re talking about a few hundred million dollars you’re not going to change the country but you can provide target assistance to help Chubais.”

    And SWP asks how were US investors to profit from that?

    “Based on discusions I had with US global investors durng the 1990s, I
    think I am in a good position to point out why many of them preferred
    to see major Russian companies pass into just a few corrupt hands. If
    a few Russian insiders could buy out Russian oil fields and other
    firms at only 1-2 cents on the dollar, they probably would be willing
    to sell their takings to US and other international investors at 2-4
    cents.”

    Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-term
    Economic Trends, writing in “The National Interest” Number 60, Summer
    2000, pg 105, on one of the factors driving the USAID/HIID approach to
    Russian privatization.

    This also explains why US investors are so down on Putin, because he ruined their little game.

    Comment by rkka — September 20, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  30. rkka–

    Talk about the lamest response ever. Some guy in some institute talks to some other guys (“global investors”–conveniently anonymous) who say that stupid russkies would probably be willing to undersell by 96 pct. Sounds like an investor wet dream, but not a reality. In other words: third hand delusion/fantasy peddled by some hanger on.

    Why don’t you do some real work and find some examples of where something even close to this actually happened outside of the imagination of somebody looking to get rich quick.

    And for every one you find, I bet I can track down myriad examples of Russians exploiting fellow citizens of the Motherland.

    There were, of course, many from outside Russia who looked to get rich quick in the 90s. And is the case with most get-rich-quick schemers, the vast majority of them wound up with zip, and many of them were taken to the cleaners by their erstwhile Russian partners. No honor among thieves.

    The problem was, that even businesses that were looking to invest legitimately got screwed too, for the most part. (I might add that investment is not exploitation and parasitism, contrary to the apparent belief of some who whine about the travails of Russia in the 90s.)

    Re oil specifically, virtually everybody who profited from the insane (or was it criminal?) Yeltsin policy of keeping the official price of oil at $1-$2/bbl was Russian, and mainly Russian insiders.

    You should join AK in that 12 step, rkka.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 20, 2009 @ 8:41 am

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