Neo-Soviet Russia, Unhinged
Russia’s crazed unilateral escalation of the new cold war continues apace. One might have thought that a civilized country would refrain from taking such provocative actions at least until its stock market had stopped collapsing, but then the world now begins to see that Russia is not, in fact, a civilized country. Look what Russia has done in just the past few days:
First, Russia announced a massive new escalation in its military budget. The United States, of course, and its NATO allies will respond in kind, and a new arms race will be born.
Then, ignoring the concerted opinion of the entire civilized world, Russia inked formal treaties of mutual defense with the breakaway Georgian regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia’s neighbors in Asia strongly condemned the move, as did all the Western democracies. America and her NATO allies can now do likewise in regard to Russia’s breakaway regions, Ingushetia and Chechnya, just for instance.
Still not content, Russia initiated another frenzied drive towards seizing the fossil fuels of the Arctic region. A whole new facet of cold war arms racing will thus be born in the frozen north.
As if that were not enough, Russia threatened to instigate a second Cuban missile crisis. Is the U.S. now free to install a space program in Kazakhstan? It appears so.
And finally, Russia sent nuclear bombers into the Carribean. Naturally, the U.S. and its NATO allies will now feel themselves free to circulate their own nuclear bombers in places like Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltics.
All in just one week! Russia took all these actions in an utterly unilateral manner, without the support of even one other major nation of the world and flouting the clear opposition of most.
One would think that if Russia were even casually familiar with its own history, it would know that the provocation of conflict with the outside world has destroyed Russia twice in the past century. Tsarsist Russia was obliterated by its folly in World War I, and the USSR was destroyed by World War II and the Cold War. And they should realize that Russia is in terms of both economics and population a mere shadow of the USSR, with none of the “Warsaw Pact” allies the Soviet Union could claim — while America by contrast has only grown stronger and increased the size of the NATO fold dramtically.
But, of course, as we have routinely documented on this blog, Russians don’t know their own history — not least because the proud KGB spy who governs them is blithely rewriting it to suit his own whim. And they can’t fairly judge their current national competitive position, because Putin has also liquidated the mass media that would inform them about it. Internet or no, Russians are rapidly becoming just as blindly ignorant as were their Soviet ancestors.
And then it moved into the truly surreal. Horrified at the prospect that NATO would actually dare to respond forcefully by this litany of outrageous provocations, as it did by convening a plenary session in Tbilisi, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement that read in part: Decisions taken … confirmed that in NATO, the Cold War-era reflexes of ‘them and us’ are at work once again. We cannot view steps to intensify relations between the alliance and Georgia any other way than as encouragement for new adventures … We believe the alliance’s session in Tbilisi in the current conditions was not timely and does not help stabilisation in the region.
In other words, Russia accused NATO of starting the trouble! Coming on the heels of the Russian Foreign Minister’s berzerk obscenity-laden tirade against his British counterpart during a diplomatic discussion, and the earlier attempts to blame the Georgia crisis on the U.S. presidential elections, this Russian statement genuinely makes it seem that the Kremlin is fully irrational, run amok. No reasonable interpretation of recent events can explain how Russian actions are in its own best interests. Europe announced new support for a pipeline to deliver Nigerian gas. Missiles are on their way to Poland. Relations with Georgia and Ukraine are destroyed, formally so in the case of Georgia. The stock market is in ruins, and perhaps worst of all Russia has been exposed as utterly friendless in the world, even when attacking the hated U.S.A.
Yet Russia continues the escalation, just as the USSR had done before it. Santayana might be modified as follows: “Those who never learn history are doomed to repeat it until they destroy themselves.”