Global Security Headlines

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

US-Russian Relations Dangerously Offcourse

Global security challenges are rapidly accumulating for young and ill-prepared US President Obama. Relations with the major actors in the world are important, too. US-Russian relations are at their lowest point since the official end of the Cold War.

President Obama's misadventure at the Russian summit earlier this month should illustrate clearly the need for sober thinking (and more study) about the role of the United States in the world and its international relations.

Russia is not disposed to make President Obama's choices easy. The "secret" swap of pressure on Iran for a nuclear arms pact was a complete failure and Moscow can only laugh at such amateur statecraft. Linkage was not a great idea for starters; thankfully Moscow nixed any such deal.

The miserable state of US-Russian relations is emblematic of the naive president's predicament.

The lack of deep strategic thinking and pacifist approach to global security is a marked change from the Bush era, as candidate Obama promised.

However, once in the hot seat as president of the United States and briefed on the threats to freedom and democracy at home and to US allies, President Obama's course is a recipe for disaster for freeom-loving peoples.

Tyranny and advanced technology to impose it (ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons) are on the march. Weakness begets challenges. The severe degree and sheer number of challenges limit the president's maneuverability without the will and wherewithall to tackle them. Both are sorely absent at this point.

US destroyer anchors off Georgia for exercises
AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov

BATUMI, Georgia (AP) -- A week after a Moscow summit intended to smooth over the differences between Russia and the U.S., both countries on Tuesday engaged in displays of military might near Russia's southern border.

A U.S. warship anchored off the Black Sea coast of Georgia in preparation for joint naval maneuvers with the ex-Soviet nation, which was trounced in a war with Russia last August. Russian warplanes, meanwhile, conducted mock bombing runs in exercises just a few hundred kilometers northwest.

The maneuvers and countermaneuvers marked a stark change from July 6-7, when U.S. President Barack Obama dined in the Kremlin with Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and both countries expressed hope for repairing relations that in recent years have sunk to a post-Cold War low.

During those meetings, Obama diplomatically warned Moscow to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia and reject the notion that it holds a zone of privileged interest among its former Soviet neighbors.

Georgia is still seething over what it views as Russia's occupation of South Ossetia after the August conflict, when Russian tanks drove deep into Georgia before pulling back. Georgia had attacked South Ossetia, which has long had de facto independence, to try to retake it. Russian tanks and troops poured into the region immediately and overwhelmed the Georgian army. Russia said it was acting in defense of locals with Russian passports.

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