Reset the Obama Foreign Policy

Discussion in 'Everything Political' started by ivar, Jul 4, 2009.

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  1. ivar

    ivar Notebook Deity

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    There are many articles warning that Obama's "resetting" of relations with Moscow can turn out to be a not well thought over move which may both help Russia to extend its revanchist hegemony in Europe, Caucasus and Asia, and harm the pro-democracy movement inside Russia weakened by a decade of rule of Putin's KGB junta. The pure rest result will contradict the long term American interests at the cost of short term advantages of mainly Obama's image making nature.

    This article is one of those warnings. I should have posted others earlier.


    Reset the Obama Foreign Policy
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/699fjioa.asp

    As the Obama administration finalizes its preparations for the Obama-Medvedev summit next week, their vaunted "reset" of U.S. relations with Russia is experiencing some technical difficulties.

    With negotiators meeting to work on a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires at the end of this year, the administration is reportedly exploring all options to assuage Moscow's concerns about America's planned foray into its backyard in the form of planned U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Secretary Gates spoke recently of his hope that Russia might still cooperate with the United States, Poland, and the Czech Republic on a joint missile defense architecture in Europe, a concept which was immediately rejected by a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

    On June 16, Gates' deputy, William J. Lynn, went further, suggesting that the Czech and Polish sites were just one of several alternatives being considered by the Obama administration. This announcement came as a surprise to a number of members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and to the Czechs and Poles, who have endured Russian threats as a result of signing agreements with the United States last year committing to host the U.S. missile defense sites.

    On its face, an attempt to trade missile defense for a new START agreement might seem like a worthwhile bargain. Poland and the Czech Republic have not yet ratified the agreements required to construct the sites, Iran is not yet capable of launching a missile that can reach the United States, and the Obama administration argues the real threat is from short and medium range, not long-range missiles.


    But this thinking is flawed for several reasons.

    First, despite some public apprehension in Poland and the Czech Republic about the presence of U.S. forces on their territory--driven in part by the legacy of Soviet occupation--the European sites are an important symbol of America's commitment to the security of our NATO allies in central and Eastern Europe. Poland, the Czech Republic, and their neighbors are looking for a stronger U.S. presence, not capitulation in the face of Russian threats, especially in the wake of Russia's August 2008 invasion of Georgia. Abandonment of the European sites would in effect be a U.S. acknowledgement of a Russian sphere of influence in the region and show the Russians that threats and bullying are the best way to influence the Obama administration.

    Second, although Iran does not currently possess the capability to launch a missile that could hit the United States, it is steadily making advances in its missile program. In February, Iran successfully launched a satellite into orbit using the same technology that can be used in long-range missiles. In May, Iran successfully tested a solid-propellant missile that will eventually be able to strike U.S. bases in the Middle East as well as parts of Europe. The aftermath of Iran's presidential election makes more missile tests likely, as regime hardliners attempt to show the world that they remain in control.

    Finally, the Obama administration's willingness to provide additional funding for systems that defend against short and medium range missiles should be applauded, yet it should not come at the expense of our ability to confront the long-term threat posed by Iran to the U.S. homeland. A recent report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center stated that "With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015."

    These are the facts about the European sites, but the Obama administration appears to be caving in the face of Russian rhetoric. With the Obama administration desperate for an arms control deal, the Russians have made their intentions clear: no START agreement unless U.S. missile defenses are also limited.


    The Russians are savvy negotiators. The same cannot be said of Team Obama.

    President Obama has responded to Russian bluster about missile defense by announcing his intention to cut the missile defense budget by 15 percent in FY2010, slashing funding for construction of the European sites in Poland and the Czech Republic by 80 percent, and appointing a leading Congressional skeptic of the European sites, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who has accused her opponents of "running around with their hair on fire about a long range threat from Iran that does not exist," as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, the top State Department official tasked with advancing missile defense discussions with Russia and our European allies.

    These actions, combined with the administration's seeming lack of interest in confronting Russia on human rights and other "uncomfortable" topics do not leave the Obama administration with a good negotiating hand.

    If he abandons the European missile defense sites, President Obama will have succeeded in empowering the ayatollahs in Tehran and the autocrats in Moscow, and will concomitantly put our allies in central and Eastern Europe on notice that they are merely bargaining chips to be discarded when it is convenient.

    That would be quite the "reset."

    Jamie M. Fly served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the National Security Council Staff from 2005-2009. He is Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.
     
  2. icehell

    icehell Notebook Evangelist

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    Give me the honor to publish your picture after MAFIA kill you.
     
  3. ivar

    ivar Notebook Deity

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    This was an appeal to Obama's Administration written by several Russian pro-democracy intellectuals, to warn him against his possibly wrong choices which can be made under the influence of his not very competent or too cynical advisers on Russia:

    False Choices For Russia
    http://www.america-russia.net/eng/geopolitics/215217237

    By Lev Gudkov, Igor Klyamkin, Georgy Satarov and Lilia Shevtsova

    Moscow -- As intellectuals and liberal Russians, we have read with great interest many recommendations American experts have compiled for President Obama regarding the U.S.-Russian relationship. While there are several constructive ideas, many of these reports reflect a serious misunderstanding of the situation in Russia and the course it is following.

    We object, for example, to the basic proposition of calling for a return to realpolitik because some believe that the worsening of Russian-American relations was mainly caused by Washington's insistence on "tying policies to values." The result, some American "realists" argue, is that the United States needs to build a new relationship with Russia based on "common interests and common threats." Yet in blaming the Bush administration for trying to "teach" Russia about democracy, these realists appear to accept the official Russian position. In our view, America has ignored the problems of democracy and civil society in Russia, but even turning a blind eye did not prevent the breakdown in the U.S.-Russian relationship -- and now Obama is essentially being asked to treat Russia as though it is incapable of democratic transformation.

    While there is anti-democratic sentiment here, such feelings are not ubiquitous. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Russians would like to see the establishment of democracy and the rule of law, according to a 2008 Levada Center poll. The ruling elite oppose the development of democratic institutions, but the key is that members of the elite are more than ready to integrate into the Western world on an individually beneficial basis; they will do everything in their power to "protect" the rest of Russian society from the perils of such integration.

    To be clear, we are not calling on our American democratic colleagues to "promote" democracy in Russia. Such efforts are counterproductive and ultimately serve only to discredit Russian democrats by helping the propaganda machine color them as agents of the West. But we do not understand how one can hope for cooperation while ignoring Russia's internal development and the principles on which the state functions.

    In the Century Foundation report "Resurgent Russia and U.S. Purposes," Thomas Graham writes that Russia's national interests include being "a great power . . . maintaining itself as the dominant influence in the former-Soviet space . . . and constraining the United States." That is true about the Kremlin's interests. But Graham goes on to argue that "nothing in Russia's understanding of its interests precludes close cooperation with the United States on a wide range of issues critical to American security and prosperity." How can we build a relationship based on "common interests" if Russia's leaders see NATO expansion as a primary threat or if, as Graham wrote, their national interest is in "constraining" U.S. influence in the region?

    Russian society views its national interests differently than does Russia's leadership. Polling has found that Russians are interested in making their country more open to the world and that they want to limit governmental abuse and corruption and create an independent judiciary. So we think that Americans ought to be clear, when referring to "Russian national interests," whether they mean those of the country at large or the current political regime.

    Consider that in language strikingly similar to Kremlin rhetoric, the Commission on U.S. Policy Toward Russia, chaired by former senators Gary Hart and Chuck Hagel, recommends that Obama respect "Russian sovereignty, history and traditions and [recognize] that Russian society will evolve at its own pace." We hope that Americans understand Russian "traditions" differently than does the Kremlin propaganda machine. Implicit in many recent reports are the suggestions that the administration avoid discussing human rights and the obligations that Russia undertook when it joined the Group of Eight. The Hart-Hagel report also says that America should "establish a government-to-government dialogue on Russia's neighborhood, with a view to developing confidence-building measures." So Russia and the United States should decide the fate of Russia's neighbors? That sounds eerily like a return to the days of Yalta. When we read Thomas Graham's statement that Ukraine "occupies a special place in Russian thought: It is the cradle of Russian civilization and an essential element of Russia's own national identity," or that we should "Finlandize" Ukraine, we see the realists parroting Russian nationalist rhetoric.

    We believe that cooperation on issues such as nonproliferation, Iran or trade will be successful only if our relationship is based on trust. If the Obama administration follows the suggestions of these "realists," rather than improving relations with Moscow its efforts will lead to more mutual disappointment at best. And sour relations with the United States always limit the space for liberalism in Russia. We believe Russia dearly needs to expand all sorts of ties with the United States and the West, but such cooperation must not come at the price of U.S. refusal to understand what is happening in Russia, or allowing Washington to ignore the fundamental nature of the Russian political system and to "repackage" old concepts of tactical maneuvering as a new foreign policy strategy.

    Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott helpfully proposed in February that the West "should create conditions that will, over time, convince the Russians that their post-Marxist, post-Soviet, Hobbesian experiment is, in fact, unrealistic. It simply won't work." We don't know why many American realists would make it easier for the Russian elite to remain ensconced in their Hobbesian microcosm. We recognize that transforming Russia is a job for Russians and that this is a task at which Russia's liberal forces are failing. But the task will be that much more difficult if American experts serve as the "conservators" of Russian authoritarian traditionalism.

    Relations with Russia cannot be reduced to the false dichotomy of isolation or cooperation with an authoritarian regime. Such a choice is doomed either way. We hope that in his dealings with Russia, President Obama will show us the fresh thinking for which he is admired as well as his understanding of Russia's people, not just its leaders.

    Lev Gudkov is director of Levada Center, an independent polling and research organization. Igor Klyamkin is vice president of the Liberal Mission Foundation. Georgy Satarov is president of the Russian nongovernmental organization Indem Foundation. Lilia Shevtsova is a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
     
  4. ivar

    ivar Notebook Deity

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    Russia must re-focus with post-imperial eyes
    By Zbigniew Brzezinski, July 1 2009
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f39b4af0-6667-11de-a034-00144feabdc0.html

    read full text without registration here:
    http://georgiandaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12637&Itemid=65

     
  5. ivar

    ivar Notebook Deity

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    Barack Obama makes basic error over balance of power in Kremlin

    "President Obama has made his first mistake in Russia even before he arrives in Moscow today. His attempt to cast Vladimir Putin as yesterday’s man and to drive a wedge between the Prime Minister and President Medvedev demonstrates a misreading of relations in the Kremlin. "
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6644883.ece


    I wanted to write about this misconception of Obama here. I am happy that someone has done it now in a reputable newspaper.
     
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