"NATO leaders agreed that Georgia would become a member of the Alliance."How might recent actions of the United States and NATO have been perceived by the Russians? How about we attempt to view Russia's security problem from a Russian perspective. We might consider the fact that Russia has borders not only with bitter former allies seeking NATO membership (and weapons modernization), but also China, Japan, and North Korea. Iran is located to its South, across the Caspian Sea. In stepping into Russian shoes, we might also consider the threats and challenges the Russians have faced in the not-so-distant past -- as George Kennan observed:
- April 2008, NATO
"NATO and Azerbaijan approved an updated version of their Individual Partnership Action Plan" - 7 March 2008, NATO
"Warsaw and Washington signed a preliminary deal Thursday on basing part of a US missile shield in Poland, in the face of Moscow's vehement opposition and mounting East-West tensions over Georgia."
- August 14, 2008, AFP
Since the Thirty Years' War, no people, I think, have been more profoundly injured and diminished than the Russian people have been by the successive waves of violence brought to them by this past brutal century. There were: the Russian Japanese War of 1904-1905; the fearful manpower losses brought about by Russia's participation in the First World War; the cruelties and the fighting that were a part of the consolidation of Communist power in the immediate aftermath of that First World War; then, the immense manpower losses of World War II; and finally, extending over some seven decades and penetrating and in part dominating all these other disasters, there were the immense damages, social, spiritual, even genetic, inflicted upon the Russian people by the Communist regime itself.Add to all this, the fact that Russia's population is actually declining, the epidemic alcoholism, staggering economic inequalities. We might consider the challenges Russia faces from Islamic extremists and various secessionist movements. Indeed, consider the tenuousness of the Russian Federation's hold over its constituent republics. Finally, we should consider the relative size of the US defense budget compared to that of Russia ($600 billion Vs $40 billion); not to mention the relative size of Russia's population in the East compared to that of China.
If you all this up -- and consider the many areas in which Russia's cooperation is vital -- does the way the West approaches Russia make any sense? By what criteria did Western leaders decide that policies such as missile defense and the expansion of NATO were more important than building strong relations with Russia?
Drawing: hat-tip AKM