Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dealing (or Not) with Russia

The leftist political magazine The Nation ran an article June 30 taking both John McCain and Barack Obama to task for not addressing what it (quite correctly in my view) identified as the most pressing foreign policy issue facing the next president – how to deal with Russia. To set the record straight, though, I must note that while the magazine was correct in its criticism of Obama, the GOP candidate has spoken at length about Russia and how his administration would deal with it. The Nation's half-true article is here:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080714/cohen

Portraying McCain more honestly is the also liberal Salon.com, which (three weeks before the article in The Nation) reported on the Republican's “tough stance toward Russia.” That article is here:

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/06/09/mccain/index.html

NPR (do I even need to identify them as leftist?), meanwhile, did a piece in early June about Senator McCain's “War on Russia.” Aqui:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91868322&ft=1&f=1004

Over the past year, McCain has made headlines around the world when he suggested (for about the hundredth time) that, due to ongoing curtailment of democracy and civil liberties in Russia, that country should be kicked out of the G8 and replaced by India. Various articles here, here and here:

http://www.nysun.com/national/mccain-backs-tougher-line-against-russia/73750/
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India_should_replace_Russia_in_G8/articleshow/2905310.cms
http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1536962020071015

Long before John McCain was even his party's nominee for president, he was already paying close attention to political developments in the former Soviet Union. In fact, way back in 2003 John McCain told Jim Lehrer of PBS that,

“I think the United States should not include Russia in the G-8 meetings. I think we should warn American businesses of the risks of investment there. I would instruct OPEC and other institutions not to lend money to Russia at this time and start talking about our expectations that Russia would make a transition to a free and open society.” Ici:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/july-dec03/mccain_11-06_a.html

Obama, on the other hand, seems barely aware there is such a place as Russia. Professor Stephen Blank of the US Army War College, quoted on the Center for Defense Information website, summed up Obama's Russia strategy best:

“Obama's ... tired approach leaves out dealing with Russia as an international energy and economic actor and has nothing to say about issues of regional security in Eurasia which are of utmost interest to Russia, America, and many other states.”

Do an Internet search for Obama's speeches or interviews on Russia and you will come up empty-handed. The junior senator simply has never addressed the issue. His website merely lists a single bullet point regarding his hope to “work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert...” That tiny blurb, inadequate though it is, contains a mountain of obscene dishonesty, since the missiles BHO refers to are not on a “hair trigger alert,” but require multiple keys to be inserted and turned, and launch codes to be double-verified and entered. There is no “hair trigger” that might be inadvertantly pressed. Interestingly, Obama's hair-trigger reference is also employed by The Nation in its article on dealing with Russia. Apparently, obsession with hair triggers is a universal leftist affliction.

More than likely, BHO's bullet point is just hot air. If, however, he actually wants to add additional steps in the launch sequence beyond what the military's missile officers have practiced for the past several decades, then Obama is emphasizing his utter lack of military familiarity and unpreparedness to be commander-in-chief. Still, I doubt he has actually thought any of that through to the point of operational changes, but rather is merely parroting the same tired Democrat platitudes left over from the 1970s. In either case, this first-term senator with no military background and no civilian experience dealing with the military almost is screaming out, “I have no idea what I'm talking about.”

Not much of a basis for hope.

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