US announces new Cold War


Richard Moore

“With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world,” Mr. Bush said in his fourth stern statement on the conflict in five days, and the strongest to date. “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.”

So speaks the President of the most bullying & intimidating nation in the world. This article is interesting in that it lays out the new Cold War position of the US, which was clearly why the US initiated the Georgian incidents. 

August 16, 2008

No Cold War, but Big Chill Over Georgia


CRAWFORD, Tex. — “The cold war is over,” President Bush declared Friday, but a new era of enmity between the United States and Russia has emerged nevertheless. It may not be as tense as the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, for now, but it could become as strained.

Russia’s military offensive into Georgia has shattered, perhaps irrevocably, the strategy of three successive presidential administrations to coax Russia into alliance with the West and integration into its institutions.

From Russia’s point of view, those efforts were never truly sincere or respectful of its own legitimate political and security interests. Those interests, it is now clear, are at odds with those of Europe and the United States.

As much as Mr. Bush has argued that the old characterizations of the cold war are no longer germane, he drew a new line at the White House on Friday morning between countries free and not free, and bluntly put Russia on the other side of it.

“With its actions in recent days Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world,” Mr. Bush said in his fourth stern statement on the conflict in five days, and the strongest to date. “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.”

Tensions are manifest already, and both sides have done their part to inflame them. The flare-up over an obscure territorial dispute in the Caucasus, one barely known to most Americans, has set off a series of tectonic shifts.

The United Nations Security Council has reverted to a cold-war-like stalemate, with American and Russian vetoes blocking meaningful action over Georgia and other issues. While the United States and Russia will continue to negotiate out of necessity, as the old superpowers did, cooperation and collaboration — however limited in the past few years — now appear even more remote over such issues as Iran’s nuclear program.

The Russian offensive — the first outside its territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 — has crystallized a realignment already taking place in Central and Eastern Europe, where the new members of NATO and the European Union have warned of the threat posed by a resurgent Russia. And it is already forcing a reassessment of American strategy toward Russia, as Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said on Thursday.

The United States and Poland, which spent months negotiating the basing of American antimissile interceptors on its territory, quickly completed the deal in the wake of Russia’s offensive. The administration dropped its opposition to sending Patriot missiles, which would defend the Polish site in case of any attack — presumably from Russia.

A senior Russian general promptly gave credence to Poland’s worst fears by saying Friday that the country had just made itself a target of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

These repercussions have prompted some to question the wisdom of Mr. Bush’s aggressive response to the Russian incursion into Georgia.

“What worries me about this episode is the United States is jeopardizing Russian cooperation on a number of issues over a dispute that at most involves limited American interests,” said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute in Washington.

It may seem outdated to speak of blocs in Europe, but they are emerging just as clearly, if less ideologically, as those that existed on either side of the Iron Curtain.

The Georgians, Mr. Bush declared Friday, have “held free elections, opened up their economy and built the foundations of a successful democracy” from the Soviet ruins. The Russians, by implication, have not.

“The people of Georgia have cast their lot with the free world,” he said, appearing outside the Oval Office, “and we will not cast them aside.”

Mr. Bush’s remarks reflect a far more hawkish view toward Russia than the “looked into his eyes” partnership Mr. Bush tried for nearly eight years to foster with Vladimir V. Putin, then and clearly still Russia’s ruler.

This tougher view is shared by some within his administration including, by all accounts, Vice President Dick Cheney and by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain.

Among those who have watched Mr. Putin’s Russia far more suspiciously, the “told you so” tone is palpable.

Tellingly, Mr. Bush referred Friday to efforts to resolve the conflict not with the Group of 8 industrial nations, which includes Russia, but with the G-7, using the designation of the group before Russia joined. Ousting Russia from the G-8 has been a keystone of Mr. McCain’s foreign policy for years.

“There will be a time and a place to deal with the consequences and the repercussions of Russia’s actions,” a White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said on Friday, declining to rule in or out a punitive move against Russia’s seat in the G-8.

In fact, the alienation between the United States and Russia has rarely, if ever, been deeper.

The war in Iraq troubled the Russians as an example of unchecked American unilateralism. But the Bush administration’s relentless pursuit of missile defenses in Europe, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders and the support of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia have simply infuriated them.

Russia has used its oil and natural gas to fill its coffers and rebuild its military after the disarray of the 1990’s.

While the United States and Russia are not likely to return to hair-trigger military confrontation, Russia has resumed flexing its military might with long-range bomber and surveillance flights testing American and NATO airspace.

The question of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine — which the alliance in April pledged would one day happen, while declining to start the process — appears to have hardened Mr. Putin’s resolve over Georgia’s separatist regions.

No matter how much the Americans argue that NATO is now focused on other threats, for Russia, it remains an enemy force. And no matter how often the Americans say missile defense is aimed at Iran and other so-called rogue nations, it remains an existential threat to Russia’s aging and shrinking nuclear capacity. Both are part of what Russia views as remnants of American cold war policy.

The same is true of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, a close Russian ally. Russian officials now cite Kosovo as precedent for the independence or annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“It’s clear the policies we have pursued regarding missile defense and installations in Europe, regarding further expansion of NATO have created difficulties with Russia,” said James F. Collins, the last American ambassador to the Soviet Union and now a director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It takes two to tango.”

On the matter of Georgia, though, Mr. Bush has put an end to the dance. He made it clear that his push for democracy trumps his relationship with Mr. Putin and Russia as a whole, describing the matter as a stark choice of a new era.

“Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations,” he said, “or continue to purse a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation.”

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