Saturday, November 15, 2008
Beware the Bear
Over the past two months Americans have been preoccupied with the Bear market. However, the Russian Bear is back, and making bold moves upon the election of President-elect Obama.
The Kremlin announced a state trip by puppet President Dmitry Medvedev to Cuba. The state trip coincides with the offer to once again strengthen ties with Cuba and the Kremlin's move to sale weapons and share military drills with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.
Those moves by the Russians come after earlier moves this year that have been disturbing internationally. First, they dramatically opposed the missile defense system President Bush proposed for Europe. Though it is clear the Bush Administration meant to protect Europe for a missile attack from Iran, the Russian response was a troubling indicator of their fears and perhaps their future intentions. Add to that the manufactured issues surrounding the Russian invasion of Georgia, and one quickly sees that the Bear is back to his old business.
Add to that the discard for rule of law politically inside Russia. Before Prime Minister Putin handed over the Presidency of Russia over to his lackey Medvedev, Putin had many powers moved to the Prime Minister's post. Now, the Russian legislative body is passing laws that expand the Presidential term and pave the way for Medvedev to resign and allow Putin to come back to power.
Russia has historically had "strong men" rule domestically with an iron fist and little regard for what the West things of as the rule of law. Normally, that should not really concern the United States. However, the Russians are taking a menacing approach to Europe and stirring up trouble in the backyard of the United States.
There are several factors at play. First, the unpopularity of President Bush around the world opened the door for the Russians to act again. Then there is Putin's racism. On several occasions, Putin displayed a complete lack of respect for the people of Africa. He once said he did not care if Africans killed one another in Darfur. One can conclude he has little respect for an African-American in the White House. The politically incorrect truth about the Kremlin is that is filled with white elitists who look down on other races. They perceive the election of Barak Obama as sign of weakness.
Of course, the new aggressive Russia is not just because of Obama's election. President Bush is to blame as well. While Bush got the threat of Islamic terrorists and acted well, he missed Putin and Russia. When Bush met Putin and said he "looked into his eyes and saw the soul of a good man," Bush read those eyes wrong. I imagine Putin was delighted in the remark.
Then came replacing Bush with Obama. The combined events gave Putin the notion it was time to take on the United States again. President-elect Obama and his team will have a tough task ahead of them. They not only have to deal with terrorism, but they have a very dangerous threat from that old Russian Bear and its strong man at hand. Add to that China.
What the United States seems to face is a situation like 1968. Upon the election of Richard Nixon that year, the United States was tired of war and an economic and energy crisis loomed. The United States took the Kissinger approach to foreign policy. It acted less idealistically and more pragmatically to defend its security in order to gain its footing again to win idealistically in the 1980s and 1990s. President-elect Obama and his team will have to make some unsavory choices in the next four years to protect the United States. Idealist dreams will just not do. Appointing a realist, such as Governor Bill Richardson, as Secretary of State, a man who has served diplomatically under both Clinton and Bush, would be an indicator to the world the United States is shifting to a more pragmatic role in defending its interests. An appointment to that post for domestic political approval by the President-elect will only embolden the Bear more.
Still, the President-elect and his team had better beware the bear.