Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Russia's Darkening Future


It is not inconceivable that historians of the future will look backwards at the Bush the Younger's Presidency and surmise that after the tumultuous Iraq War, the greatest foreign policy blunder of The Republic was the Cheney-Rumsfeldian robust bitchslaps against Russia's rosy Slavic cheeks. We had defeated The Slavs soundly; America bestrided the globe as the last standing Superpower. There was no need to rub it in. The preppies, thank heaven, defeated the KGBeasts. The Soviet Empire had disintegrated, and --as even Brent Scowroft will attest -- the Bush the Elder Administration did a piss-poor job in bringing The Russian Bear around under the eagle-wing of The West. So why didn't Bush the Younger take advantage of the second chance History had offered his family and do what Daddy didn't?

We may never know.

For Russia is, if marginally, a part of the West. Somewhat. Or, better put, Russia is more a European nation than an "Eastern" despotism. At least we could tell them that, right? Of course, Russia will never entirely assimilate into Europe (Nor, unfortunately, will Turkey; even an extremely Eurocentric Pope knows that) -- although it really, really wants to -- and so it was American finesse from Foggy Bottom, and not the robust backhand of the silver-haired Cold Warriors at the Defense Department that the former Soviet Union needed. And a little romance. Some flowers. Candy. A slow Mazurka, maybe?

But the Defense Department's usurping of the State Department's traditional position -- at the right hand of the President -- was one of many unfortunate restructurings of Power precipitated by the horrific attacks of September 11th. Colin Powell may have spent a career fighting wars, but he never knew what hit him with Rumsfeld, one of the most skilled -- and perverse -- bureaucratic infighters ever. Emphasis on Perverse (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Beyond reforming the military against asymetrical warfare (And, quixotically, away from the reliance on army boots-on-theground), Rummy was still trapped in the labyrinthine narrative of Watergate, Ford, and regaining Executive Powers from the Congress (Averted Gaze).

And then there was George Soros (Cue: Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccatta in D Minor). While we deeply admire what Soros did with his own little "unilateralist" funding of the tastefully-colored revolutions across Eastern Europe (The Corsair sips a gracefully-aged Chateau D'Yquem), they only served to show the impotence of Colin Powell, who was largely on the sidelines cleaning up the messy diplomatic aftermath of Russia's growing intolerance at the shortening of their buffer zone. George Soros was, to be sure, on the side of the angels; Soros was, of course, governed by the Nazi-horrors in Europe of his childhood and a congenital hatred of totalitarian regimes. We, however, are astounded by the timing. Of everything. The unilateralism of Bush, and the unilateralism of Soros operated in the overheated theater of post 9/11 political action.

And now -- the consequences. Russia, responding to Estonia's own unilateral lack of diplomatic patience, has launched the world's first Cyber War. And, like the Crimean and American Civil Wars in ages past -- heralds of a new form of warfare -- foreign powers have dispached observers ("Computer security experts from NATO, the European Union, the United States and Israel have since converged on Tallinn to offer help and to learn what they can about cyberwar in the digital age."). And America's Polish missile system -- primarily as a foil to a potentially nuclearized Iran -- has met with intense Tolstoyish sabre-rattling from Russia (And now, it appears, a new ICBM system).

One wonders what might have been if not Cheney, but say the Machiavellian James Addison Baker were Vice President. The pause that refreshes. How would they have handled Russia. probably with flowers, candy and some empty rhetoric, slowly, patiently, bringing Russia into the orbit of The West and the rule of Law and a more responsible citizenship in the community of nations. But .. no. We didn't. And now Russia -- whose potential is always either teetering upon the brink of the yawning abyss of the darkest of Nihilisms and the greatest degree of Humanitiarianism possible -- presently edges into the lair of a bitter, lawless Thug-ocracy scorned by the West and looked down upon by China. What happens when the Russian Bear awakens from its slumber and realizes it is neither West nor East but "surrounded" on all sides -- beseiged, in the psychology of Nations -- by hostile powers?

Russia's future is not pretty.

1 comment:

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