Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Russia's Withdrawal From The CFE Treaty And How The United States And NATO Are Fueling Russian Revanchism

Russia's announced withdrawal from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, while disturbing, did not surprise this blogger. I have previously cited provocative American behavior as possible fuel for Russian revanchism. The neoconservative vision of an American hegemony overriding the security interests of other countries, the implementation of which has already help transform much of Iraq into a charnel house, is now threatening to provoke renewed Washington-Moscow nuclear tensions.

Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In a guest essay published on the website on July 18th, 2007, Eland warns of an unnecessary confrontation with a resurgent Russia.

Click HERE to read original essay.

Premise: Eland reminds us that those of us who opposed the expansion of NATO in 1999 (admitting Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic) and 2004 (Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania) warned that it would lead to problems with Russia. Those problems have arrived. A resurgent Russia—flush with oil revenues and a strong leader who is using accumulated anti-U.S. resentments to become even more autocratic—has just suspended the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty in retaliation for U.S. abrogation of the Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and U.S. plans to put components of a missile defense system into Poland and the Czech Republic. Eland's overall premise is that Russian revanchism is driven by "fear of encirclement".

Summary: The unilateral Russian abrogation of CFE is more than just a diplomatic move. The Russians now claim they reserve the right to redeploy tanks and heavy artillery on their western and southern borders and will stop allowing inspectors to verify their compliance with the treaty.

Eland considers this a tit-for-tat Russian action based upon perceived American violations of the "Two Plus Four Treaty", originally signed by former President George H.W. Bush and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 after the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union itself. The treaty was intended to allow for both the reunification of Germany and its full integration into Western Europe. However, because of two bloody world wars between Russia and Germany, much of which were fought on Russian soil at a cost of millions of Russian lives, Russia understandably wanted some guarantees that a German-strengthened NATO would not pose a security risk. Consequently, pursuant to the treaty, the United States pledged not to station foreign troops or nuclear weapons in the eastern part of Germany, and not to expand NATO eastward.

However, since that time, in at least an implicit violation of the treaty, NATO has added ten new countries. Ukraine, Russia’s largest and most powerful neighbor, is next on the list. Even during the Cold War, despite moral justification to do so, the United States implicitly recognized Soviet primacy in Eastern Europe by not attempting to change it militarily. The American betrayal of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution locked this principle into place in the Russian mind. But now, as an apparent "reward" for Russian flexibility on Germany and Eastern Europe, the United States is assertively and unilaterally intervening in the affairs of the border states. As a result, Russia is beginning to feel encircled.

But the long term problem for the United States cited by Ivan Eland is that, in the NATO Treaty, an attack on one alliance member is considered an attack on all. This means that the United States for all intents and purposes has essentially pledged to provide security for an additional ten nations in proximity to Russia. The possibility that such U.S. security guarantees, handed out promiscuously, might someday have to be honored in a potential conflict with a more assertive, nuclear-armed Russia seems to have been downplayed. This could be a replay of a similar fatal mistake made by the United Kingdom and France in 1939, when those two nations pledged to "defend" Poland against German "aggression", inspiring Polish revanchism in its wake. As a result, Poland refused to even discuss Hitler's territorial demands, most of which were honest and reasonable, despite generous counter-assurances by Hitler. [Ed. Note: It should also be noted that Hitler did contribute significantly to the problem by making the demands SO SOON after the territorial adjustment with and subsequent absorption of Czechoslovakia. English and French trust was destroyed by Hitler's overly-expeditious handling of the Czechoslovak problem.]

Protection from Russia is the reason these small countries wanted to join NATO in the first place. In 1999 and 2004, however, U.S. politicians thought such paper commitments would never have to be fulfilled and that expanding the alliance would help “stabilize” the former Eastern Bloc.

In the final analysis, Ivan Eland believes the disagreement over missile defenses is a symptom of a troubled U.S.–Russian relationship that the United States has helped create, attributable primarily to Russia’s understandable fear of encirclement. He recommends that the United States should cancel the planned deployment of missile defenses in the former Eastern Bloc, and to end the NATO expansion. He considers neither initiative necessary for U.S. security, and believes these plans will only further exacerbate tensions with a nuclear-armed and increasingly hostile Russia.

Analysis: Ivan Eland's focus on fear of enciclement as a driving factor is useful, but there are other factors precipitating the decline in the U.S.-Russian relationship.

In 1999, a Bill Clinton-led NATO carpet-bombed traditional Russian ally Serbia for 78 days, over Russian objections, in order to persuade the Serbians to ultimately renounce control over their rebellious province of Kosovo. The Serbian atrocities were exaggerated in classical "Holocaust" fashion to provide moral justification for this act of naked aggression and imperialism. While Boris Yeltsin was still President of Russia at the time, this act strengthened the hand of those Russians who saw the West as aggressors, causing them to force Putin into a weakened Yeltsin administration, and setting the stage for Putin's successful run for the presidency.

America's blatant intervention in a Ukrainian presidential election back in 2004, under the innocent guise of an "Orange Revolution", further offended Russian sensibilities and promoted even greater fear of encirclement.

America's chronic hectoring and lecturing of Russia on human rights, in the face of a campaign by murderous Chechen separatists who have taken their battle to Russia proper, further inflamed Russian sensibilities. America forgets that Russia was the "prison-house of nations" for over 1,000 years, and that it's difficult to make the transition to full democracy in one fell swoop.

And in a possibly-related British sideshow, the Times of London reports that Russian bombers approaching Scotland were intercepted and turned back by RAF aircraft. While British authorities deny any connection between this incident and the growing diplomatic row with Russian over the Andrei Lugovny situation, this marks the return of a classical Cold War-era intimidation tactic frequently employed by the former Soviet Union. Only this time, it appears to be a reaction to the gowing pattern of Western provocation.

Many traditional Russians also despise the promiscuous, permissive American pop culture, particularly that part that promotes and protects the homosexual lifestyle. Since Russia has experienced negative population growth, combined with the fact that homosexuals cannot reproduce, it is possible that some traditional Russians view the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle in their country as a slow form of genocide against their people. Consequently, while Russia does not officially sanction the gratuitous abuse of homosexuals, they have courageously refused to allow gay pride parades in their country. Many Russians are also fully aware that some Russian, Ukrainian and other Eastern European women, influenced by MTV programs such as "Girls Gone Wild", have been lured to places like Israel under false pretenses, then employed as virtual "sex slaves". So cultural discontinuity also contributes to the degradation of the U.S.-Russian relationship.

So not only have we pushed NATO eastward, but have interfered in the internal affairs of what Russia calls the "near abroad" (former constituent Soviet republics), and lectured them on how to handle a murderous insurgency upon THEIR OWN SOIL "democratically". We seem to have forgotten how outraged we were in 1961 when we caught the Russians interfering in our "near abroad", installing their missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles offshore. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought us closer to World War II than any other event during the Cold War. What incentive do the Russians have to work with us when all they get from us is criticism? It is similar to the growing level of frustration among white people in America, who get nothing but grief from blacks regardless of what concessions the white-dominated establishment makes.

We've obviously lost our golden opportunity to forge a strategic partnership with Russia. Such a partnership would have been quite natural considering common European-dominated values between the two nations. Both the U.S. and Russia face a common challenge of illegal immigration - Russian from the Chinese, and America from Latin Americans. However, this was set aside in favor of "crusading for democracy" and the size of the Chinese market, which filled the eyes of our corporations with dollar signs.

However, we can stop the further deterioration of the U.S.-Russian relationship. One way would be to offer to indefinitely suspend the deployment of missiles in Central Europe. In exchange for what? Recently, the Russians have staked an aggressive claim to a large share of the Arctic (and its anticipated resources), based on the questionable assertion that it is an "extension of Russia's continental shelf". Such a claim potentially endangers American sovereignty over Alaska in the long run, since a leader far more nationalistic than Putin could decide to make a similar claim against Alaska. So perhaps the Russians could be convinced to significantly reduce or even abandon that spurious claim in exchange for a moratorium of missile deployment in Central Europe.

The upshot is that Russian confidence in our words and our actions has been significantly damaged, and we must take the initiative to repair the underlying breach of trust. Russian may not yet be a friend, but they need not be an enemy.

No comments:

Post a Comment