Friday, February 29, 2008

On US-Russia Relations and Pandora's Box

Foreign Confidential....

Led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the US State Department seems to be doing its level best to worsen relations between the United States and Russia.

The policy is irrational and unrealistic--the US needs Russian support and cooperation with respect to Iran and the war on radical Islam (the so-called war on Terror). But political realism does not fit the State Department's "Freedom Agenda," which, in the name of democracy promotion, actually appears aimed at antagonizing Russia and promoting the creation of Islamist-leaning and Islamist-friendly regimes from the Middle East (Iraq and Gaza) to the heart of Europe, as in the case of Kosovo.

Americans, focusing on an ailing economy and weak dollar, and the costly and unpopular war in Iraq, seem to have little interest in the issue of US-Russian relations.

The mainstream media, for whom the creation of Kosovo and Palestine are sacrosanct causes, either ignores or supports the irrational policies. Jim Maceda's article, excerpted below, is an interesting example. Currently assigned to Moscow, Maceda is an NBC News Correspondent based in London who covered the wars in Yugoslavia extensively during the 1990s. While blaming Russian belligerence, he correctly assesses the importance of the Kosovo issue in an MSNBC World Blog essay, excerpted below:

Analysts here in Moscow also warn that the ripping of Kosovo from the Serbian province will open a Pandora's Box of potentially destabilizing ruptures all around the world: Chechens in Russia, ethnic Serbs in Bosnia, Russians in Moldova, Abkhazians in Georgia, Basques in Spain, just to name a few.

Would the United States defend these groups if they were to declare independence in violation of territorial integrity and international law, experts in Russia ask? If not, then why in Kosovo?

To define it in more familiar terms, Kosovo, for Serbs, is like a combination of Jerusalem and the Alamo: both the birthplace of its identity, forged in a bloody defeat at the hands of the Turks in 1389, and the crucible of its religious faith. Over the centuries, Russia has been Serbia's natural ally, sharing the Orthodox religion and the Cyrillic alphabet. But the United States also has been a trusted ally to Serbia through two world wars and other difficult times.

But strangely, friends of a friend can act like enemies. Just when it seemed like Russia and the United States were on the brink of what some consider a new Cold War, tiny Kosovo reared its head, caught the West's fancy for freedom and declared its independence – just as it promised it would. In the process, it triggered the kind of belligerent rhetoric we haven't heard from the Russian military in years.