Friday, August 15, 2008

US response to Russia makes the worst of a bad situation

Western analysis of the Russian-Georgian conflict is discounting long-standing Russian security concerns, and setting the stage for a series of provocative policy responses that will only exacerbate tensions in the region.

The greatest of these mistakes is arguably the US-sponsored "missile defense" project in eastern Europe, first billed as a requisite defense against Iran but now fast-tracked under the new pretext of Russian intransigence. Russian officials have said this single issue transcends any territorial dispute on their border -- surely comprehensible to Western observers were they to imagine "defensive" Russian missiles deployed in Mexico; or, as recent history would have it, Cuba.

American efforts to paint Russia the aggressor in order to advance military objectives in Europe are only likely to fuel the kind of siege mentality that prevailed in Moscow through its Soviet years, giving added incentive to regional expansionism. This is not a course to which any sane observer should hope to return. Regrettably, failure of Western media outlets to provide any manner of even-handed analysis of the Russian-Georgian affair, coupled with the bellicose declarations of our resident lunatics, is doing much to push us in that direction.

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