Monday, February 9, 2009

One has to worry ...

... when the Russian Foreign Minister, the EU's Foreign Affairs Chief Panjandrum and the Chinese are praising the "new tone" of the new American Administration. Of course, a new tone might not mean anything much and the new Administration may well learn quickly that those who are on the other side need to be stared down. After all, the Secretary of State must recall how "useful" that new tone was in the time of her husband's presidency. It is a little worrying that nobody seems to remember or be capable of finding out the disaster in foreign and domestic policy that was Jimmah Carter's administration.

Meanwhile, there is this bit of fatuous reporting from EurActiv:
In a perfectly harmonious chorus, European leaders stressed Russia does not pose any military threat to Europe or NATO. But mutual trust between Moscow and Brussels is "urgently" needed, especially after the natural gas supply crisis earlier this year, said French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
On the whole, it is probably true that Russia does not pose a military threat to Europe simply because it is not in a position to do so. Even the invasion of little Georgia took more out of the Russian military than had been expected. But that mutual trust seems a long way away, especially if one takes into account the consistent bullying of former colonies and satellites.

Not everyone is happy as this article in the Wall Street Journal shows. The recent launch of the Iranian missile, whether it is quite as technically sophisticated as the Mad Mullahs would like us to believe or not, ought to remind some people what the missile defence shield is opposing. This is no time to start accepting Russian leaders' hysterics, aimed mostly at their own population whom they want to cower by endless references to the enemy inside and outside (has a familiar ring to it).
Suspending the program would have serious consequences. It would send a signal of American weakness to Iran, which the Obama Administration says it wishes to engage. If the mullahs watch the U.S. back down on confronting its missile threat, who could blame them for assuming it will also back down over its nuclear aspirations?

A suspension would also send a message of American irresolution to Russia, which opposes deploying the antimissile system in countries it considers part of its sphere of influence. This kind of Cold War thinking was on display again last week with the news that Moscow had bribed Kyrygyzstan to close a key U.S. air base for supplying Afghanistan. Backing down on missile defense would only encourage more such Russian behavior.
I don't know which is worse: ignorance of history or ignorance of economics. We have a surfeit of both among Western leaders.

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