Streetwise Professor

April 24, 2008

When Winning is Losing

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:46 am

RFE/RL has a nice piece discussing the proposal that NATO expand beyond its current membership orientation to include democratic nations such as Japan and Australia, and change its orientation to act more proactively around the world. This is the kind of idea that drives Putin and his coterie into apoplexy. All of the whining about NATO going outside its traditional space (e.g., to Afghanistan) and expanding to include new members is grounded fundamentally in a fear that such an organization will render the UN–and the Russian veto in the Security Council–irrelevant. This would severely limit Russia’s ability to use its veto to thwart the initiatives of the US, Europe, and others in order achieve its largely negative goals.

If this happens, or if some other formal or informal concert of democratic nations develops, Putin and the Russian establishment will, again, have no one to blame but themselves. Russia’s reflexively oppositional policies, be it in Iran or Iraq or Kosovo or Bosnia or North Korea, have perhaps achieved some short term benefits. Russia matters. People must pay attention to Russia. Blah, blah. More substantively, oppositionism has actually encouraged and fomented conflict and unrest in places like Iraq and Iran and the Middle East generally, and encouraged North Korea, Serbia, Abkhazia, and Ossetia to resist the solution of conflicts. This has vexed the US and Europe, and has stymied the possibility for progress on myriad issues. Patience is running out. If the Security Council and other international bodies cannot facilitate negotiation and compromise, ideas like a super-NATO will become more attractive, and are more likely to be implemented. Just further evidence, as if it were needed, that Russia’s myopic policies may provide immediate gratification, but will inevitably lead to the very marginalization that its leaders dread.

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