As Russia returns to its logical, regional, strategic roots, the US under Obama is slowly waking up after its neocon nightmare.
The irony in current relations between Russia and America is that the US has been far more ideological, perversely so, in the past two decades than Soviet foreign policy ever was. Russia is now expanding its economic and political relations with its former comrades both in the “near abroad” and in the Middle East without any of the scheming subtexts of Washington’s manoeuvring in the recent past.
One of the many signs of this is the rapid realignment of Ukraine since the election of President Viktor Yanukovich. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin not long ago floated the idea of merging Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz Ukrainiy with the Russian gas giant Gazprom — a move, gasped critics, that would put Ukraine’s strategic network of gas pipelines effectively under Moscow’s control … //
… The Bush-Clinton-Bush leadership abandoned realpolitik to try to force the new, weaker Russia to accept a subservient role in the new world order, a la Britain or Latvia, and when this failed, tried to revive the Cold War. The Putin/Medvedev policy is to patiently push ahead with a European project, restructuring the economy along European lines, all the while maintaining an independent military force, using groupings like BRIC, the SCO and CSTO to keep from falling into the B-C-B trap. The Gorbachev/Yeltsin white-flag period is now behind, though it will take decades for Russia to undo the damage they caused.
Obama is being forced by events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Israel to come to terms with this reality. Russia accepted the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the heat of the post-9/11 frenzy, but will not accept further NATO encroachment or a US invasion of Iran. It allows NATO supplies to pour through its territory on their way to Afghanistan, and grudgingly allowed the US base in Kyrgyzstan a year’s grace period, but its red lines have been clearly drawn.
It could do little as NATO swallowed up Eastern Europe and bits of the ex-Soviet Union, and allowed Ukrainian NATOphiles five years to wreak their havoc until Ukrainians came to their sense themselves. But just as Napoleon and Hitler were destroyed by overstretch, so NATO and the US itself are living on borrowed time (and increasingly meaningless US dollars). What looks like “one step forward, two steps back” in Obama’s relations with Russia is really an indication that the NATO/US retreat has already begun.
Despite the inertia of the Bush legacy, the world is rediscovering traditional balance-of-power international relations. The responsibility of Russia is to make sure the retreat happens in a way that does not result in all-out war. (full text).