Saturday, February 26, 2005

Putin vs Bush---Where does the truth lie?

Shades of the Cold War! Conservative pundits are asking a question straight out of the Reagan years, " When are we going to get tough with Russia?" and " Human Rights in Russia should be a top priority". You would think I am back in 1980......wish I felt as genki as I did then.

Watching the two leaders at their press conference was interesting. President Bush taking his "I'm being patient with a fool" look just like he seems to do with anyone who voices an opinion contrary to his; and Putin in the thick language that Russians always seem to use, reasserting that Russia is still a great power too. The truth as always lies somewhere in the middle.

It revives a debate that President Bush himself has triggered, namely where do the limits of national sovereignty lie? The President, through his rhetoric to roll back tyranny and spread democracy everywhere, seems to be implying that national sovereignty only belongs to nations that have governments acceptable to the United States. And that if nations act in a manner that deviates from that, then he must at the least lecture them.....and at the most invade them. No , wait a minute, we tried that in Iraq...did not quite work out so well.

The fact is, we are in no position to "get tough" with Russia. We need them more than they need us. With Iran emerging as a major issue these days, it would help for the US to be able to count on the support and aid of the Russian president. Otherwise, Vladimir Putin in a bid to show the world that his Russian state , with a broken and underpaid but still large military possessing nuclear weapons, can act independently of the United States. Furthermore, Putin does make a point that no amount of democracy can make up for not being able to feed and cloth one's people which despite a 15 year interval between the fall of communism is still not universally true in Russia. US national interests force a more active partnership with Russia and allowing the Russia leader to work at his own pace. If he goes too far, the Russia people will have a reckoning, just like they had with the Romanovs. But for now, we need them to help us keep the Persian horde in their box.

Skippy-san

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