Streetwise Professor

March 1, 2010

Real Sovereign Democracy

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:59 pm

The Russians have got their Jockskis in a bunch (I know, so what else is new?), this time over the US plan to base missile defenses in Romania, and perhaps Bulgaria and the Black Sea.   Two particular aspects of the US-Romanian announcement frosted the Russians.

The first is that Russia found out about the deal through the press.  To which I say: (a) if that’s really true, perhaps the FSB is going the way of Russian Olympic sports if it can’t get advanced information about something like this from former satellite countries, (b) Russia is hardly noted for consulting with us on its diplomatic and military moves, and (c) given that Russia would no doubt have responded to any advance warning by pulling out all the stops to torpedo the deal, the administration was quite right in keeping it under wraps and announcing a fait accompli.

The second is the fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nesterenko (any relation to Blackhawk legend Eric Nesterenko, the Man from Flin Flon?) used the word “unilateral” more than once in his denunciation of the agreement.  What this means is that Russia expects to be not just consulted, but deferred to, on any military agreement involving sovereign nations in what it fancies to be its sphere of privileged interest.  For refusing to countenance a Russian veto, the administration is to be congratulated.  (You can stop rubbing your eyes–yes, I complimented the Obama administration not once but twice in a single post.)

The Aegis/Standard missile systems in the western Black Sea pose even less of a threat (meaning zero threat) to Russian ICBMs than did the aborted Czech-Polish BMD sites.  (Though they could be used against some Russian IRBMs–interesting, that.)  Which means that the hyperventilating by the Russian FM and military about the threat to its nuclear deterrent is just so much baloney.  What really gets them is the thought that their former vassals would have the temerity to exercise their own sovereignty without even a by-your-leave to Russia.  This is also the case with the Russian apoplexy over the basing of Patriot missiles in Poland.

Which leads me to say again: if you have nothing attractive to offer, what do you expect?  Flies, sugar, gall, remember?

This is important as a potential counter to Iran, and as a statement to the eastern Europeans that they are not being left to the tender mercies of Russia.  I would have preferred that this missile defense initiative would have been undertaken in addition to the Czech-Polish BMD initiative.  But something is better than nothing.  And again, the sites are important in and of themselves, but they have a broader importance in bolstering shaky nerves in eastern Europe, as argued in this Wess Mitchell and Robert Kron oped:

North Central European allies have been concerned by marked increases in Russian revisionist rhetoric and behavior (remember Georgia?). They have been alarmed by the perception of U.S. disengagement, embodied by the Obama administration’s decision to abandon plans for a ground-based Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system anchored in Central Europe. Their calls for “strategic reassurance” have sparked a debate in NATO about the security needs of the region, centering on the question of whether Polish and Baltic-State threat assessments vis-à-vis Russia are accurate.

This is the wrong question to be asking. Lost in the debate is the detrimental effect that insecurity among Central European allies has on the Alliance and U.S. national interests–irrespective of the nature and extent of Russian capabilities and intentions. This state of affairs is ultimately unhealthy for theUnited States, the Atlantic Alliance and European integration.

. . . .

Washington need not adopt a policy of confronting Russia to assuage its regional allies, but would be wise to take action now, or risk allowing allied concerns to fester and pay the costs down the road.

That is, this is about more than missile defense and Iran per se.  Which is why the Russians are so apoplectic about it.  And which is why the administration should continue to proceed, Russian tantrums and all.

I wonder when the next tu quoque deal with Hugo Chavez or Nicaragua will be announced.  Maybe they’ll have to wait until Hugo can get the lights back on.

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  1. Russia can offer many attractive things. Too bad they’re more likely to go to Iran than to the West. 😉

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 1, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

  2. Them limetrophes sure got some gall. In pay of the Reich, in the service of Uncle Sam.

    Comment by So? — March 2, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  3. Well the so called FSB can still pull off a Litvinenko hit. 😉 I mean imagine, smuggle nuclear material which leaves trails into Britain and give him a specially measured dose while he is dining in a restaurant in Central London. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? I wonder did the people in the kitchen have anti-radiation suits on? 🙂

    FSB is useless, they can’t pull off anything like this, remember that! 🙂

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — March 2, 2010 @ 1:07 am

  4. Three Russophile trolls and four smiley faces, following the statesman-like example of Dima Rogozin. Gosh, they’re such formidable, serious intellectuals, these Russophiles. One trembles before them.

    Uh, SUBLIME MORON, the West already knows how to make missiles and nuke plants, the only things Russia offers to Iran. In fact, this article is about Russian fear of Western missiles. So, thanks but no thanks for your “attractive things.”

    Would SO? prefer them to be in the service of the KGB, worst killers of Russians in world history. Apparently. With friends like these, Russia needs no enemies.

    Does LEOS THE LOUSE really think murder by the secret police is funny? No wonder Russia is such a barbaric failure, with “friends” like these. Can’t wait until the FSB comes for Leo, it’ll be so amusing to hear his screams as he’s dragged away.

    Comment by La Russophobe — March 2, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  5. I am waiting for you to talk about Russia’s dismal performance in the olympics and the comment by leadership to expect resignations from those put in charge of training the athletes. Any comments on that?

    Comment by Nicole — March 2, 2010 @ 9:47 am

  6. @ La Russophobe

    First of all, Russians are too backwards to pull anything like this off, don’t you know that? 😉

    Second, your racist jokes few posts below are also not funny.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — March 2, 2010 @ 9:47 am

  7. One should ask what the condition of Russian ICBM’s and their operations infrastructure really are given that tanks are rusting in the bush and the development of new gear is frustratingly at a standstill, and a budget sucking black hole to boot. How can Russia even purchase four ships from the French? Obviously a higher priority will be put on the nukes, but one has to wonder what the capabilities of this country really are!

    I say ignore them.

    Comment by TRex — March 2, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  8. I was actually referring to the need for the US to 1) have Russia’s cooperation on Iran sanctions and 2) not sell S-300 to Iran. Those are attractive to the West.

    Obviously, this missile shield will further rule 1) out of the question and weaken the incentive for 2). This is because Washington has decided that locking down influence in its east European satellites is more important than containing Iran.

    Whether this is the optimal geopolitical move is entirely open to debate.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 2, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  9. As for Russian sports, I’m in SWP’s camp due to what I saw while living in Russia. After seeing their sports facilities (or rather, the lack thereof), I’m amazed that they can actually accomplish anything at all. I still laugh about Putin’s speech he did in English to get the Sochi Olympics. He asked how it was possible that Russia had never had a Winter Olympics. Well, after seeing what I saw throughout the country, no, it is not a shock at all. They even have to create a whole new city to do the one in 2014!

    As for hockey, this is a bit different. There are places to play hockey all over the place, especially outdoors in the winter. It’s actually quite cool to go watch the different local clubs play. Their defeat in Vancouver can understandably be seen as a failure. However, I think it is unbecoming for the president of a “world power” to make such a fuss over their Olympics performance. (Although, China’s government is quite obsessed, too) The UK is the perfect example of being a prosperous country that totally sucks at sports, so I’m sure the Merry Gnome just needs to get over it.

    Comment by Howard Roark — March 2, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  10. As for getting help from Russia to stop Iran, I think the U.S.’s hopes of that should have expired a long time ago. Russia either wants to help or they don’t. They obviously don’t. To top it off, China wants to intervene even less, so to me, the whole point of “getting help” is well, pointless. All the rest is just Russian blackmail to score a few points on a small number of hollow political victories that will boost their egos. They had their chance to help with Iran since Obama cancelled the previous missile defense program. Where were they then? Sorry Russia, you lost, again. If something is important to deal with in the world, such as Iran going nuclear, you don’t try to cut a side deal in the middle of it. It looks pathetic. At some point, the U.S. has to stop getting its chain jerked around and move on. I hope we’ve done that now.

    As for missile defense, Russia would gripe if we decided to put it in Australia, so the whining about Romania is just Russia being its usual “it’s not fair” Russia.

    Comment by Howard Roark — March 2, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  11. Russia won substantially fewer Olympic medals than four years ago, after predicting it would win substantially more.

    Russia disgraced itself with barbaric acts of poor sportsmanship.

    And Russia crawled away from the games with its tail between its legs, Dima Medvedev not being man enough to show his craven face.

    That’s utter failure, no matter how you slice it.

    Comment by La Russophobe — March 2, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

  12. The decline in sporting prowess coincides with decline everywhere else in the last 25 years. Music, film, science, you name it. It’s just that the slow decay all around is easier to ignore. The Olympics are that flasbulb that brings everything into relief. All Stalin’s fault, of course.

    Comment by So? — March 3, 2010 @ 8:20 am

  13. Thanks for the comments on the Olympics. I agree with SWP. My biggest surprised was Medvedev coming out with public comments. Definitely a hangover Soviet mindset.

    Comment by Nicole — March 3, 2010 @ 9:30 am

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