Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts

Monday, October 19, 2015

Kissinger: A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse

A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse. By Henry Kissinger

With Russia in Syria, a geopolitical structure that lasted four decades is in shambles. The U.S. needs a new strategy and priorities.

Wall Street Journal, Oct 16, 2015

http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-path-out-of-the-middle-east-collapse-1445037513


The debate about whether the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran regarding its nuclear program stabilized the Middle East’s strategic framework had barely begun when the region’s geopolitical framework collapsed. Russia’s unilateral military action in Syria is the latest symptom of the disintegration of the American role in stabilizing the Middle East order that emerged from the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.

In the aftermath of that conflict, Egypt abandoned its military ties with the Soviet Union and joined an American-backed negotiating process that produced peace treaties between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan, a United Nations-supervised disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, which has been observed for over four decades (even by the parties of the Syrian civil war), and international support of Lebanon’s sovereign territorial integrity. Later, Saddam Hussein’s war to incorporate Kuwait into Iraq was defeated by an international coalition under U.S. leadership. American forces led the war against terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States were our allies in all these efforts. The Russian military presence disappeared from the region.

That geopolitical pattern is now in shambles. Four states in the region have ceased to function as sovereign. Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq have become targets for nonstate movements seeking to impose their rule. Over large swaths in Iraq and Syria, an ideologically radical religious army has declared itself the Islamic State (also called ISIS or ISIL) as an unrelenting foe of established world order. It seeks to replace the international system’s multiplicity of states with a caliphate, a single Islamic empire governed by Shariah law.

ISIS’ claim has given the millennium-old split between the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam an apocalyptic dimension. The remaining Sunni states feel threatened by both the religious fervor of ISIS as well as by Shiite Iran, potentially the most powerful state in the region. Iran compounds its menace by presenting itself in a dual capacity. On one level, Iran acts as a legitimate Westphalian state conducting traditional diplomacy, even invoking the safeguards of the international system. At the same time, it organizes and guides nonstate actors seeking regional hegemony based on jihadist principles: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; Hamas in Gaza; the Houthis in Yemen.

Thus the Sunni Middle East risks engulfment by four concurrent sources: Shiite-governed Iran and its legacy of Persian imperialism; ideologically and religiously radical movements striving to overthrow prevalent political structures; conflicts within each state between ethnic and religious groups arbitrarily assembled after World War I into (now collapsing) states; and domestic pressures stemming from detrimental political, social and economic domestic policies.

The fate of Syria provides a vivid illustration: What started as a Sunni revolt against the Alawite (a Shiite offshoot) autocrat Bashar Assad fractured the state into its component religious and ethnic groups, with nonstate militias supporting each warring party, and outside powers pursuing their own strategic interests. Iran supports the Assad regime as the linchpin of an Iranian historic dominance stretching from Tehran to the Mediterranean. The Gulf States insist on the overthrow of Mr. Assad to thwart Shiite Iranian designs, which they fear more than Islamic State. They seek the defeat of ISIS while avoiding an Iranian victory. This ambivalence has been deepened by the nuclear deal, which in the Sunni Middle East is widely interpreted as tacit American acquiescence in Iranian hegemony.

These conflicting trends, compounded by America’s retreat from the region, have enabled Russia to engage in military operations deep in the Middle East, a deployment unprecedented in Russian history. Russia’s principal concern is that the Assad regime’s collapse could reproduce the chaos of Libya, bring ISIS into power in Damascus, and turn all of Syria into a haven for terrorist operations, reaching into Muslim regions inside Russia’s southern border in the Caucasus and elsewhere.

On the surface, Russia’s intervention serves Iran’s policy of sustaining the Shiite element in Syria. In a deeper sense, Russia’s purposes do not require the indefinite continuation of Mr. Assad’s rule. It is a classic balance-of-power maneuver to divert the Sunni Muslim terrorist threat from Russia’s southern border region. It is a geopolitical, not an ideological, challenge and should be dealt with on that level. Whatever the motivation, Russian forces in the region—and their participation in combat operations—produce a challenge that American Middle East policy has not encountered in at least four decades.

American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all parties and is therefore on the verge of losing the ability to shape events. The U.S. is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Egypt on human rights; with Saudi Arabia over Yemen; with each of the Syrian parties over different objectives. The U.S. proclaims the determination to remove Mr. Assad but has been unwilling to generate effective leverage—political or military—to achieve that aim. Nor has the U.S. put forward an alternative political structure to replace Mr. Assad should his departure somehow be realized.

Russia, Iran, ISIS and various terrorist organizations have moved into this vacuum: Russia and Iran to sustain Mr. Assad; Tehran to foster imperial and jihadist designs. The Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan and Egypt, faced with the absence of an alternative political structure, favor the American objective but fear the consequence of turning Syria into another Libya.

American policy on Iran has moved to the center of its Middle East policy. The administration has insisted that it will take a stand against jihadist and imperialist designs by Iran and that it will deal sternly with violations of the nuclear agreement. But it seems also passionately committed to the quest for bringing about a reversal of the hostile, aggressive dimension of Iranian policy through historic evolution bolstered by negotiation.

The prevailing U.S. policy toward Iran is often compared by its advocates to the Nixon administration’s opening to China, which contributed, despite some domestic opposition, to the ultimate transformation of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The comparison is not apt. The opening to China in 1971 was based on the mutual recognition by both parties that the prevention of Russian hegemony in Eurasia was in their common interest. And 42 Soviet divisions lining the Sino-Soviet border reinforced that conviction. No comparable strategic agreement exists between Washington and Tehran. On the contrary, in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear accord, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the U.S. as the “Great Satan” and rejected negotiations with America about nonnuclear matters. Completing his geopolitical diagnosis, Mr. Khamenei also predicted that Israel would no longer exist in 25 years.

Forty-five years ago, the expectations of China and the U.S. were symmetrical. The expectations underlying the nuclear agreement with Iran are not. Tehran will gain its principal objectives at the beginning of the implementation of the accord. America’s benefits reside in a promise of Iranian conduct over a period of time. The opening to China was based on an immediate and observable adjustment in Chinese policy, not on an expectation of a fundamental change in China’s domestic system. The optimistic hypothesis on Iran postulates that Tehran’s revolutionary fervor will dissipate as its economic and cultural interactions with the outside world increase.

American policy runs the risk of feeding suspicion rather than abating it. Its challenge is that two rigid and apocalyptic blocs are confronting each other: a Sunni bloc consisting of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; and the Shiite bloc comprising Iran, the Shiite sector of Iraq with Baghdad as its capital, the Shiite south of Lebanon under Hezbollah control facing Israel, and the Houthi portion of Yemen, completing the encirclement of the Sunni world. In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be treated as your friend no longer applies. For in the contemporary Middle East, it is likely that the enemy of your enemy remains your enemy.

A great deal depends on how the parties interpret recent events. Can the disillusionment of some of our Sunni allies be mitigated? How will Iran’s leaders interpret the nuclear accord once implemented—as a near-escape from potential disaster counseling a more moderate course, returning Iran to an international order? Or as a victory in which they have achieved their essential aims against the opposition of the U.N. Security Council, having ignored American threats and, hence, as an incentive to continue Tehran’s dual approach as both a legitimate state and a nonstate movement challenging the international order?

Two-power systems are prone to confrontation, as was demonstrated in Europe in the run-up to World War I. Even with traditional weapons technology, to sustain a balance of power between two rigid blocs requires an extraordinary ability to assess the real and potential balance of forces, to understand the accumulation of nuances that might affect this balance, and to act decisively to restore it whenever it deviates from equilibrium—qualities not heretofore demanded of an America sheltered behind two great oceans.

But the current crisis is taking place in a world of nontraditional nuclear and cyber technology. As competing regional powers strive for comparable threshold capacity, the nonproliferation regime in the Middle East may crumble. If nuclear weapons become established, a catastrophic outcome is nearly inevitable. A strategy of pre-emption is inherent in the nuclear technology. The U.S. must be determined to prevent such an outcome and apply the principle of nonproliferation to all nuclear aspirants in the region.
Too much of our public debate deals with tactical expedients. What we need is a strategic concept and to establish priorities on the following principles:

• So long as ISIS survives and remains in control of a geographically defined territory, it will compound all Middle East tensions. Threatening all sides and projecting its goals beyond the region, it freezes existing positions or tempts outside efforts to achieve imperial jihadist designs. The destruction of ISIS is more urgent than the overthrow of Bashar Assad, who has already lost over half of the area he once controlled. Making sure that this territory does not become a permanent terrorist haven must have precedence. The current inconclusive U.S. military effort risks serving as a recruitment vehicle for ISIS as having stood up to American might.

• The U.S. has already acquiesced in a Russian military role. Painful as this is to the architects of the 1973 system, attention in the Middle East must remain focused on essentials. And there exist compatible objectives. In a choice among strategies, it is preferable for ISIS-held territory to be reconquered either by moderate Sunni forces or outside powers than by Iranian jihadist or imperial forces. For Russia, limiting its military role to the anti-ISIS campaign may avoid a return to Cold War conditions with the U.S.

• The reconquered territories should be restored to the local Sunni rule that existed there before the disintegration of both Iraqi and Syrian sovereignty. The sovereign states of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Egypt and Jordan, should play a principal role in that evolution. After the resolution of its constitutional crisis, Turkey could contribute creatively to such a process.

• As the terrorist region is being dismantled and brought under nonradical political control, the future of the Syrian state should be dealt with concurrently. A federal structure could then be built between the Alawite and Sunni portions. If the Alawite regions become part of a Syrian federal system, a context will exist for the role of Mr. Assad, which reduces the risks of genocide or chaos leading to terrorist triumph.

• The U.S. role in such a Middle East would be to implement the military assurances in the traditional Sunni states that the administration promised during the debate on the Iranian nuclear agreement, and which its critics have demanded.

• In this context, Iran’s role can be critical. The U.S. should be prepared for a dialogue with an Iran returning to its role as a Westphalian state within its established borders.

The U.S. must decide for itself the role it will play in the 21st century; the Middle East will be our most immediate—and perhaps most severe—test. At question is not the strength of American arms but rather American resolve in understanding and mastering a new world.

Mr. Kissinger served as national-security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Views from FYR of Macedonia: Russia, the West, America

Views from FYR of Macedonia: Russia, the West, America

After sharing with some people an article on new software for US military cargo helicopters to take more autonomous decisions*, a Macedonian in the group wrote (Spanish):
Si, tenemos suerte y los rusos nos defienden. Si no estamos j[xxx]dos con los americanos y sus maquinas de muerte

Translation: Yes we are lucky that the Russians defend us. If not, we would be [doomed] by the Americans and their Machines of Death.

The article: Navy Drones With a Mind of Their Own. WSJ, Apr 5, 2014. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303532704579481510076347466

 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two Muslim Brothers Who Took the Assimilation Path. By Kenan Trebincevic

Two Muslim Brothers Who Took the Assimilation Path. By Kenan Trebincevic
The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2013, on page A11
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323789704578443473812237556.html

'I hope they're not Muslim," I told my brother, Eldin, when we first saw the pictures of the Boston bombers. We soon found out that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev shared our religion, as we'd dreaded, when my Jewish college roommate jokingly texted: "Hey, would you please tell your people to stop blowing things up?"

I laughed, in sadness, but soon felt completely unnerved by how much the Tsarnaevs' story mirrored our own. My brother and I were born six years apart, and we're two foreign-born-and-named, athletic, Islamic brothers from difficult backgrounds in Eastern Europe, where we had experienced persecution and then been generously taken in by Americans. The 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in the police shootout, was the eldest, strong-minded child, like Eldin. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now in a federal medical detention center in Massachusetts, looked up to his sibling, as I always looked up to my strong-minded brother.

Boxing is big in Chechnya and nearby regions where the Tsarnaev family has its roots, and the brothers excelled in the sport, like their father. Martial arts are big in the Balkans, where we're from. Our dad owned a gym in our hometown of Brčko, Bosnia, where he trained athletes and where Eldin and I won brown belts and awards for karate.

The Tsarneavs were caught in the confusing war between Chechnya and Russia that erupted in 1999, and they wound up emigrating in 2003 to Cambridge, Mass. Caught in the bloody war between Bosnia and Serbia, factions of the former Yugoslavia, my family moved to Westport, Conn., in 1993.

Like the Tsarnaevs' father, our father suffered setbacks to his career in America, and to his health. While Anzor Tsarnaev reportedly toiled as a mechanic for $10 an hour, our dad, Senahid, slung poultry at a fast-food chicken place and took other low-paying jobs. While the Tsarnaevs' mother, Zubeidat, did facials at a Boston spa and later at their home to make ends meet, my mother, Adisa, baby-sat and found work at a data-processing firm. We too had little money, and it was hard to get jobs without connections or language skills.

Yet the Tsarnaev boys became angry, alienated young men who never quite assimilated into their new country (Tamerlan said on Twitter: "I don't have a single American friend, I don't understand them"), while my brother and I made many friends in the U.S. and wound up on the more successful side of the American dream.

There is a well-documented connection between unhappy, disenfranchised immigrants who can't connect and crime and terrorism. When I first moved here at age 13 I felt as lost, estranged and resentful as Tamerlan Tsarnaev appeared to be. In the days since the Boston bombing, I kept comparing Eldin's and my circumstances with the Tsarnaevs' to see where our paths diverged and what saved us from becoming embittered.

I was struck by news accounts that the Tsarnaev parents moved back to Russia, where they separated two years ago. One of their daughters lived in New Jersey, and she admitted that she hadn't spoken to her brothers in years. I was fortunate that my immediate family of four stayed together, first in Connecticut until my mother died of cancer in 2007, then in Queens, N.Y., where my father, brother and I now live blocks away from each other.

Even when I moved into my college dorm room at the University of Hartford and Eldin moved to the Stony Brook campus in Long Island, we spoke to our mother, father and each other daily—either by cellphone or email. I'm convinced that remaining a close-knit family kept my brother and me saner and safer. The Tsarnaev family, by contrast, seemed constantly roiled—by war, immigration, work and financial difficulties, serious illness and a marriage breakup. Throw in radical religion and, in retrospect, it seems a recipe for disaster.

Perhaps because my family survived the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans to wipe out Muslims, my family members—unlike Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother—did not seek solace with any specific religious figure or house of worship. While we remained proud of our heritage, we were sponsored by the Interfaith Council in Connecticut, a group of liberal churches and synagogues.

When we arrived in 1993 at JFK airport, we were met by the Rev. Don Hodges, a Methodist minister. He drove us to his Westport home, where we stayed for four months. It's not surprising or wrong for immigrants to deepen their focus on religion in a strange land. But I would speculate that in our case we felt such gratitude to the people of differing faiths who helped us that our chances of assimilating, and succeeding, in America were enhanced.

When my mother found a lump in her breast, the late surgeon Dr. Malcolm Beinfeld at Norwalk Hospital operated on her. Dr. Beinfeld, who was Jewish, told us that the Bosnian genocide against Muslims reminded him of the Holocaust. We never received a bill for the surgery or for my mother's subsequent radiation and chemotherapy.

A Protestant dentist, Richard Sands, asked my mother: "What does your son need?" At 13, I was taken to an orthodontist who gave me braces and took care of me for two years. I was embarrassed but deeply grateful that he never asked for a dime.

On my first day of school in Westport, Dr. Glenn Hightower, the principal, and a member of Mr. Hodges's church, introduced me to the seventh-grade English class with his arm draped around my shoulders. He explained that my family had been exiled in the Bosnian war, and he asked the other students to help me out. I had a foreign name, strange accent and could barely speak the language. I felt scared and pathetic, like a mutt waiting to be adopted. I was immediately befriended by Miguel Peman, a Catholic Spanish-American student, who offered me a seat.

When the school-bus driver who drove me home noticed that I had a long walk to Mr. Hodges's house, he introduced himself as Offir, from Israel, and dropped me off right at the driveway, making me promise not to tell anyone. Later, my Greek Orthodox soccer coach, Ted Popadoupolis, gave me rides to practices and games when my parents couldn't.

My brother and I didn't pursue sports with the dreams of Olympic glory that Tamerlan Tsarnaev apparently did. At schools in Westport, Norwalk and Hartford, a series of teachers and mentors helped us formulate a realistic career plan. They geared us toward a more feasible field than sports stardom: physical therapy.

We didn't experience the sort of disappointment and resentment that Tamerlan seems to have endured when his boxing dream went sour. Instead, sports teams gave us a sense of belonging.

Since my athletic father was a health nut, under his strong influence, my brother and I steered clear of the alcohol and drugs that seem to have plagued the Tsarnaevs—and might have fueled depression and hopelessness that, I would guess, twisted their judgment.

It is impossible to know what went on in someone else's childhood or what is happening in another's mind or heart. The Tsarnaevs took one path. My brother and I, despite our family's war displacement, persecution and years of poverty, thrived—but only with stable parents by our side, good jobs and help from many and diverse guardian angels. During a dark week, it was easy to forget that countless immigrants to America have similar stories to tell.

Mr. Trebincevic, a physical therapist who lives in Queens, is the coauthor, with Susan Shapiro, of "The Bosnia List," to be published by Viking next year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

America's Voluntary Standards System: A 'Best Practice' Model for Asian Innovation Policies? By Dieter Ernst

America's Voluntary Standards System: A 'Best Practice' Model for Asian Innovation Policies? By Dieter Ernst
East-West Center, Policy Studies, No. 66, March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-309-26204-5 (print); 978-0-86638-205-2 (electronic)
Pages: xvi, 66
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/publications/americas-voluntary-standards-system-best-practice-model-asian-innovation-policies


Summary

Across Asia there is a keen interest in the potential advantages of America's market-led system of voluntary standards and its contribution to US innovation leadership in complex technologies.

For its proponents, the US tradition of bottom-up, decentralized, informal, market-led standardization is a "best practice" model for innovation policy. Observers in Asia are, however, concerned about possible drawbacks of a standards system largely driven by the private sector.

This study reviews the historical roots of the American system, examines its defining characteristics, and highlights its strengths and weaknesses. A tradition of decentralized local self-government has given voice to diverse stakeholders in innovation. However, a lack of effective coordination of multiple stakeholder strategies constrains effective and open standardization processes.

Asian countries seeking to improve their standards systems should study the strengths and weaknesses of the American system. Attempts to replicate the US standards system will face clear limitations--persistent differences in Asia's economic institutions, levels of development, and growth models are bound to limit convergence to a US-style market-led voluntary standards system.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Medvedev seeks to boost India arms sales

Russia Is Chasing Delhi Arms Sales, by TOM WRIGHT
WSJ, Dec 21, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703886904576031351139805830.html

Excerpts:

NEW DELHI—Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives Tuesday in India on a two-day trip aimed at solidifying Moscow's role as New Delhi's largest arms supplier in the face of increased competition from the U.S. and Europe.

Mr. Medvedev is the fifth and final leader of a member nation of the United Nations Security Council to visit India in 2010, underscoring New Delhi's rising importance as a global political and economic power.

India's fast-expanding economy and growing military budget offers Russia enormous potential to increase sales of military equipment. A U.S.-India nuclear deal in 2008, which paved they way for civilian nuclear exports to India, also has opened the door for Russia to sell civilian nuclear technology to New Delhi.

New Delhi, meanwhile, is hoping Moscow will allow Indian oil and gas companies a larger role in developing Russian energy assets. India is a net importer of crude oil.

Russia and India will sign agreements in defense, economic and space sectors during Mr. Medvedev's visit, Indian officials said, without giving details.

India is one of Russia's largest customers for military equipment, accounting for a third of the sector's exports—a legacy of the Cold War when New Delhi sided with Moscow against Beijing. About three-quarters of India's current military hardware is of Russian origin.

But in recent years, India has begun courting other suppliers of military hardware from the U.S., France and the U.K., all of whose leaders have used visits here this year to clinch deals.

"Russia's defense industry is not as capable as it used to be during the Cold War," said Laxman Kumar Behera, an expert on India's military at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. "India is trying to diversify its supply sources."

The U.S., during a visit to India by President Barack Obama in November, announced a $4 billion deal for Boeing Co. to supply the Indian air force with 10 C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft.

In July, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron used a trip to the country to announce a $1.1 billion deal to supply 57 Hawk trainer jets.



French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited India in December, during which the two nations signed a deal for France to supply two nuclear reactors valued at $9 billion.

Mr. Sarkozy also lobbied for France to win an $11 billion deal to supply 126 fourth-generation fighter jets to India's air force. Moscow is competing for that deal, which New Delhi is scheduled to award next year.

Russia wants India to chose the MiG-35 fighter, made by RSK MiG, but has to compete against a number of other suppliers including U.S.'s Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., France's Dassault Aviation, and a consortium of European bidders.

To boost its chances next year, Russia has been emphasizing how it is jointly developing military equipment with India.

Both nations are planning to build a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, which could be valued at tens of billions of dollars, but is unlikely to enter production until 2020. Indian media have reported one of the deals likely to be signed this week could include details of this joint production.

"Russia and India have moved to a new level of cooperation in the military-technology area, from the relationship of buyer-seller to joint development and production of modern weapons," Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in late 2009 after a regular meeting of an intergovernmental commission.

But Russia also has disappointed India on some orders. An aircraft carrier, due for delivery in 2008, has been delayed until 2012, while the cost has doubled to $2 billion. Spare parts for Russian planes also have been hard to come by.

Russia—like the U.S., U.K. and France—also is keen to help India develop its civilian nuclear industry to meet growing power needs.

Russia and India in December 2009 signed a civilian nuclear-cooperation agreement, much like the U.S.-India deal. Moscow already is helping to construct two power plants in India's southern Tamil Nadu state, which are nearing completion.

The stakes are high for Moscow, whose trade with India is skewed toward military sales. While other countries, notably China, have tapped in to India's booming economy, selling a range of manufactured goods from power equipment to telecoms hardware, Russia's trade has remained relatively small.

Russia's two-way trade with India in the year ended March 31 stood at $4.6 billion, a decline of 16% over the previous year, and only about a tenth of China's bilateral trade.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spent three days in New Delhi last week, during which India and China agreed to boost trade to $100 billion by 2015.

Still, India continues to see Russia as an important counterweight to China, says Naresh Chandra, chairman of the National Security Advisory Board, which advises India's prime minister on security matters.

[...]

India and Russia have targeted to grow bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015, of which military sales to India will play an important role.

New Delhi is planning to spend $32 billion on the military in the current fiscal year, almost double the amount five years ago, as it modernizes its armed forces as a deterrent to Pakistan and China.

India is hoping greater access to Russia's oil and gas fields will reduce its dependence on imported energy. India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. said this month it is in talks to take part in the development of Russia's massive Trebs and Titov oil and gas in northwest Russia.

ONGC already has a 20% stake in a consortium led by Exxon Mobil Corp. which is developing Russia's Sakhalin-1 oil and gas field.

—Gregory L. White in Moscow contributed to this article.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Missile Defense: We've committed to developing proven technologies, and the new START Treaty won't stand in our way

The Way Forward on Missile Defense. By M Flournoy, Under Sec of Defense for Policy & A Carter, Under Sec of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics
We've committed to developing proven technologies, and the new START Treaty won't stand in our way.
WSJ, Jun 17, 2010

Ballistic missile defenses have matured from a Cold War idea to a real-world necessity. Threats today from ballistic missiles are real, present and growing. Iran and North Korea have extensive inventories of these weapons that threaten their neighbors. Both are working on longer-range missiles capable of posing a direct danger to the United States in the coming years. Iran's continued pursuit of an illicit nuclear program and North Korea's rash intimidation after sinking a South Korean navy ship are but the most recent reminders of the real need for effective U.S. missile defenses.

To counter Iran's ballistic missile program, President Obama announced a phased adaptive approach for European missile defense last September—a move unanimously welcomed by our NATO allies. The first phase begins next year with the deployment of radars and ship-based systems in southern Europe. Romania and Poland have agreed to host land-based defenses for the second and third phases.

A similar phased adaptive approach is being applied to missile defenses in the Middle East and East Asia. While the details of the deployments and host-country arrangements will differ by region, the common thread is significant improvement in ballistic missile defense capabilities, meant to protect our deployed forces overseas and our allies and partners.

In a departure from past approaches, we are no longer building systems anchored in one place and wedded to current threat assessments. We know that the capabilities of potential adversaries do not always progress according to intelligence assessments. Our program must adapt accordingly in the face of evolving and unpredictable threats.

We are also making continued progress in improving our ability to defend the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attack. By the fall, the U.S. will have 30 deployed ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, with eight more missile defense silos near completion.

The U.S. is committed to a "fly before you buy" approach supported by a rigorous and independently-monitored testing program. An essential element of that program, and a key capability for the phased adaptive approach, is the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor. The SM-3 version deployed on Navy ships today has hit—within inches—its exact target in nine out of 10 tests. The accuracy of these tests has been confirmed in a variety of ways: by fiber-optic grids that can precisely indicate the point of impact on the target; by images taken from the interceptor in the very last moment before impact (images not available to the public for security reasons); by data from highly accurate radars and airborne sensors; and by extensive rocket sled tests and computer simulations on the ground. All these verification sources confirm that when a missile warhead was hit, it was destroyed. These results have been validated by an independent panel of experts with access to all of the classified and unclassified test data.

Missile defenses have become a topic of some discussion in the context of the Senate's consideration of the New START Treaty with Russia. The fact is that the treaty does not constrain the U.S. from testing, developing and deploying missile defenses. Nor does it prevent us from improving or expanding them. Nor does it raise the costs of doing so. We have made clear to our Russian counterparts that missile defense cooperation between us is in our mutual interest, and is not inconsistent with the need to deploy and improve our missile defense capabilities as threats arise.

U.S. ballistic missile defenses are effective, affordable and increasingly adaptable. These capabilities are critical to protecting U.S. citizens, our forces abroad, and our allies from real and growing threats.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama's Russia Tribute - What he gave away in return for watered-down Iran sanctions

Obama's Russia Tribute. WSJ Editorial
What he gave away in return for watered-down Iran sanctions.WSJ, May 27, 2010

When the Obama Administration last week secured the Kremlin's support for U.N. sanctions on Iran, the White House touted a big dividend from its "reset" in relations with Russia. Now the price for Moscow's cooperation is becoming clearer, and the only ones who should be cheering are the Russians and Iranians.

Three days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the deal on a diluted Security Council resolution, she quietly met an explicit demand from Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Buried in last Friday's Federal Register, the State Department announced it was ending long-standing sanctions against four Russian entities that had helped Iran's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The draft U.N. resolution also includes a loophole for Russia, which would be allowed to deliver the five S-300 surface-to-air missiles that Moscow agreed to sell Tehran in 2005. The S-300s can intercept missiles and aircraft but fall outside the U.N. resolution's ban on the sale of eight categories of conventional weapons to Iran. Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, crowed last Friday that sanctions "will not hit current contracts between Russia and Iran."

All of this came on top of the White House decision a week earlier to resubmit to Congress a civilian nuclear cooperation pact with Russia. This was another goodie for Moscow.

These so-called "123 agreements"—named after a section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954—open the door to technology transfers, commerce in nuclear materials and joint research between the U.S. and select countries. The Bush Administration negotiated the deal with the Kremlin but shelved it after the Russians invaded Georgia in August 2008.

President Obama said that "the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle" and that "the level and scope of U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran are sufficient to justify" the deal. Unlike a treaty, Congress doesn't ratify the pact but has 90 days to act or the deal automatically goes into force. Democrat Edward Markey and Republican Jeff Fortenberry last week introduced a resolution in the House to stop the deal.

It's an uphill but worthy effort. Russia continues illegally to occupy Georgian territory, but the larger problem is its proliferation. Both Republican and Democratic Administration have turned a blind eye to Russian misbehavior. When the Bush Administration submitted the agreement for review, the Government Accountability Office criticized the mandatory accompanying "proliferation statement" on Russia as shoddy and incomplete.

Starting in the 1990s, Moscow sold Iran nuclear centrifuges and missile technology. One company sanctioned until last week, the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, was put on the list as recently as 2008, while the Moscow Aviation Institute helped Iran develop ballistic missiles.

Nonetheless, the Obama Administration now says "Russia's approach to Iran has evolved," in the words of State spokesman P.J. Crowley. Gary Samore, the White House arms control coordinator, insists that "the Russians understand that the consequences [of shipping the S-300s] would be very severe."

These assurances don't square with Russian statements or actions. The week that President Obama sent the nuclear cooperation pact to Congress, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in Damascus touting future nuclear business with Iran's close ally in terrorism. "Cooperation [with Syria] on atomic energy could get a second wind," he said.

In return for all this, the Administration gets weak sanctions similar to the three sets the Bush Administration won without paying such a high tribute. If this represents what the Administration calls "smart diplomacy," we'd hate to see what we give up when we're dumb.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Case for the New START Treaty, by Secretary Gates

The Case for the New START Treaty. By ROBERT M. GATES
The treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership.
WSJ, May 13, 2010

I first began working on strategic arms control with the Russians in 1970, an effort that led to the first Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement with Moscow two years later.

The key question then and in the decades since has always been the same: Is the United States better off with an agreement or without it? The answer for each successive president has always been "with an agreement." The U.S. Senate has always agreed, approving each treaty by lopsided, bipartisan margins.

The same answer holds true for the New START agreement: The U.S. is far better off with this treaty than without it. It strengthens the security of the U.S. and our allies and promotes strategic stability between the world's two major nuclear powers. The treaty accomplishes these goals in several ways.

First, it limits significantly U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals and establishes an extensive verification regime to ensure that Russia is complying with its treaty obligations. These include short-notice inspections of both deployed and nondeployed systems, verification of the numbers of warheads actually carried on Russian strategic missiles, and unique identifiers that will help us track—for the very first time—all accountable strategic nuclear delivery systems.

Since the expiration of the old START Treaty in December 2009, the U.S. has had none of these safeguards. The new treaty will put them back in place, strengthen many of them, and create a verification regime that will provide for greater transparency and predictability between our two countries, to include substantial visibility into the development of Russian nuclear forces.

Second, the treaty preserves the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a vital pillar of our nation's and our allies' security posture. Under this treaty, the U.S. will maintain our powerful nuclear triad—ICBMs, submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and bombers—and we will retain the ability to change our force mix as we see fit. Based on recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we plan to meet the Treaty's limits by retaining a triad of up to 420 ICBMs, 14 submarines carrying up to 240 SLBMs, and up to 60 nuclear-capable heavy bombers.

Third, and related, the treaty is buttressed by credible modernization plans and long-term funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure that supports it. This administration is proposing to spend $80 billion over the next decade to rebuild and sustain America's aging nuclear infrastructure—especially our national weapons labs, and our science, technology and engineering base. This week the president is providing a report to the Congress on investments planned over the next 10 years to sustain and modernize our nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, and supporting infrastructure.

Fourth, the treaty will not constrain the U.S. from developing and deploying defenses against ballistic missiles, as we have made clear to the Russian government. The U.S. will continue to deploy and improve the interceptors that defend our homeland—those based in California and Alaska. We are also moving forward with plans to field missile defense systems to protect our troops and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia against the dangerous threats posed by rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

Finally, the treaty will not restrict America's ability to develop and deploy conventional prompt global strike capabilities—that is, the ability to hit targets anywhere in the world in less than an hour using conventional explosive warheads fitted to long-range missiles.

These delivery systems—be they land or sea based—would count against the new treaty limits, but if we deploy them it would be in very limited numbers. We are currently assessing other kinds of long-range strike systems that would not count under the treaty.

The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership—to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result—on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people.

Mr. Gates is secretary of defense.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New START - Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal

Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal. By KEITH B. PAYNE
The White House and Kremlin can't seem to agree what's in it, but it appears to restrict U.S. missile defense efforts and has no limits on Russia's tactical nukes.
WSJ, Apr 08, 2010

Today President Obama will sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia. Official Washington is already celebrating the so-called New START Treaty in the belief that it reduces forces below the 2002 Moscow Treaty levels and "resets" U.S.-Russian relations in the direction of greater cooperation. But the new treaty—whose actual text and accompanying legal documents were not released before the signing ceremony in Prague—may not accomplish these goals.

The administration's "fact sheet," for example, claims that the treaty will reduce the number of strategic weapons to 1,550, 30% lower than the 2002 treaty. But New START has special counting rules.

For example, there are reportedly 76 Russian strategic bombers, and each one apparently can carry from six to 16 nuclear weapons (bombs and cruise missiles). Nevertheless, and unlike under the Moscow Treaty, these many hundreds of nuclear weapons would count as only 76 toward the 1,550 ceiling. Consequently, the New START Treaty includes the potential for a large increase in the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, not a reduction.

The administration claims, as Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher stated emphatically on March 29, that "There is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense systems . . . definitely, positively, and no way, no how . . ." Yet our Russian negotiating partners describe New START's constraints on missile defenses quite differently.

On March 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a press conference after the G-8 foreign ministers meeting in Canada that there are obligations regarding missile defense in the treaty text and the accompanying interpretive texts that constitute "a legally binding package." He also stated at a press conference in Moscow on March 26 that "The treaty is signed against the backdrop of particular levels of strategic defensive systems. A change of these levels will give each side the right to consider its further participation in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments." Kremlin National Security Council Secretary Sergei Prikhodko told journalists in Moscow on April 2 that "The United States pledged not to remodel launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-based ballistic missiles for firing interceptor missiles and vice versa."

The New START restrictions on missile defense as described by Russian officials could harm U.S. security in the future. For example, if the U.S. must increase its strategic missile defenses rapidly in response to now-unforeseen threat developments, one of the few options available could be to use Minuteman silo launchers for interceptors, either at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base or empty operational silos elsewhere. Yet, if the Russian description of New START is correct, doing so would be prohibited and the launchers themselves probably will be eliminated to meet the treaty's limitation on launchers. U.S. officials' assurances and Russian descriptions cannot both be true.

Another claim for New START is that possible concerns about the limitations on U.S. forces must be balanced against the useful limits on Russian forces. Yes, this argument goes, the U.S. will have to reduce the number of its strategic delivery vehicles—silos, submarine tubes and bombers—but in the bargain it will get the benefit of like Russian reductions.

This sounds reasonable. According to virtually all Russian sources, however, New START's agreed ceiling on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles will not require Russia to give up anything not already bound for its scrap heap.

The aging of its old Cold War arsenal and the pace of its strategic nuclear force modernization program means that Russia will remain under the New START ceiling of 700 deployed launchers with or without a new treaty. Whatever the benefit to the U.S. agreement to reduce its operational strategic force launchers, it is not to gain reciprocal Russian reductions. No such reciprocity is involved.

Some hope that New START's amicable "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations will inspire Russian help with other issues, such as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, where they have been less than forthcoming. This is a vain hope, as is demonstrated by the past 40 years of strategic-arms control: Innovative strategic force agreements and reductions follow improvements in general political relations. They do not lead to them.

Finally, for many the great locus of concern about Russian nuclear weapons lies in its large arsenal of tactical (i.e., short-range) nuclear weapons. According to U.S. officials, Russia has a 10-to-one numeric advantage. In 2002, then Sens. Joe Biden and John Kerry, and the current White House Science Adviser, John Holdren, expressed great concern that the Bush administration's Moscow Treaty did not limit Russian tactical forces. One might expect, therefore, that New START would do so; but the Russians apparently were adamant about excluding tactical nuclear weapons from New START.

This omission is significant. The Russians are now more explicit and threatening about tactical nuclear war-fighting including in regional conflicts. Yet we still have no limitations on Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal. The problem may now be more severe than in 2002, but concern seems curiously to have eased.

This brief review is based on the many open descriptions of the treaty by U.S. and Russian officials. Given the apparent inconsistencies on such basic matters as whether the treaty requires weapon reductions or allows increases, or whether missile defenses are limited or untouched, the Senate will have to exercise exceptional care in reviewing the actual language of the treaty documents before drawing conclusions about their content.

Mr. Payne is head of the department of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, and a member of congressional Strategic Posture Commission.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Disarmament President - Obama's Oslo speech versus the real nuclear world

The Disarmament President. WSJ Editorial
Obama's boffo Oslo speech versus the real nuclear world.
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 11, 2009, page 12

President Obama gave a gracious speech yesterday accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, starting with the humble note that he has yet to earn it. If his Oslo hosts expected a woolly-headed address about peace in our time, they also didn't get it. He stated clearly that sometimes war is necessary to defend the peaceable and to serve justice and liberty. He even hit the George W. Bush note that "evil does exist in the world."

Congratulations, Mr. President.

On the other hand, Mr. Obama also didn't disappoint the Norwegians, who in giving the award had cited his "work for a world without nuclear weapons." He repeated his commitment to that cause, starting with his effort to rework the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 that expired December 5. So it's worth checking in to see how his disarmament vision is faring in the rougher world of rogues and national interest. The answer is not so well.

The Administration decided that rather than negotiate an extension of the existing Start treaty, a whole new arrangement to limit warheads and delivery systems should be crafted. In July, the U.S. and Russia signed a "framework agreement" to reduce stockpiles by as much as a third. Alas, the Administration was so focused on the numbers that it neglected the stickier details—such as verification, and whether the current Start regime would stay in place if negotiations dragged on.

Though the far weaker party, the Russians have figured out their leverage over an Administration eager to show any progress. Pushing that advantage, Russia has already secured lower ceilings on nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, scaled back verification, and pocketed other strategic concessions.

Let's take those in order. The U.S. looks likely to agree to cut the number of permitted delivery vehicles, such as missiles, long-range bombers and submarines, by half, to 800 or less. This is to Russia's advantage, which as of last spring had 814—and not all of them in working condition. Many of America's 1,198 nuclear delivery vehicles—from B-2 bombers to ICBMs—are being fitted with conventional weapons. The ceilings in a new Start would likely make no distinction between bomb types. If the goal is to move away from nukes, why limit the military's capacity to deploy conventional weapons?

As for verification, with fewer allowable warheads, Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" maxim applies more than ever. Yet Russia wants to reduce oversight, and it specifically told the U.S. that continuous monitoring at the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant would end once Start expired. The Russians are building new RS-24 mobile nuclear missiles at Votkinsk. According to one Russian general, the RS-24 will by 2016 constitute four-fifths of its ICBM forces. Without monitoring, the U.S. won't know for sure how many of these missiles the Russians make and where they are deployed.

While Russia invests in new warheads and missiles, the Obama Administration has yet to lay out its own plans for updating the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Even staunch proponents of arms control concede that to be able to reduce the quantity of U.S. arms, we have to improve the quality. The Senate should ask why the White House isn't.

The Russians also refused to discuss their huge advantage in tactical weapons, and the Administration said OK. After the July "framework agreement," Russia signalled that U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic stood in the way of a final deal. Mr. Obama obliged, informing the Poles and Czechs of his reduced defenses late on the day before the sixth round of Start talks in Geneva. The announcement pleased the Russians, though it still hasn't got Washington a deal. Stay tuned for more concessions as U.S. negotiators try to get it before the year's end.

Meanwhile, the world's rogues continue to pursue nuclear weapons, and Mr. Obama said yesterday that "it is incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system." He added that "we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior." But all the President has to show for a year of courting these regimes is their refusal even to consider giving up either their weapons (North Korea) or their growing capacity to make them (Iran).

The French, for one, see this danger plainly and want the U.S. to press harder on Tehran. But on these hard cases, the Administration can't muster the same sense of urgency it is bringing to the cause of an unnecessary arms control pact with Russia. Mr. Obama is right that he still has to earn that Nobel.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Revive the Cold War? - Russia and the U.S. were reducing their nuclear arsenals without ‘arms control’

Why Revive the Cold War? By DOUGLAS J. FEITH AND ABRAM N. SHULSKY
Russia and the U.S. were reducing their nuclear arsenals without ‘arms control.’
WSJ, Aug 04, 2009

The Cold War ended nearly 20 years ago. Isn’t it time we abandoned policies specifically designed to deal with it? Arms-control talks are a case in point. Why should U.S. officials act as if only a Cold War-style treaty can save the United States and Russia from a destabilizing nuclear arms race?

Despite President Barack Obama’s strange, pre-Moscow summit remark last month in a New York Times interview that the U.S. and Russia are continuing to “grow” their nuclear stockpiles, both countries have in fact reduced their stockpiles drastically since the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Those reductions resulted from unilateral decisions, not from arms-control bargaining.

Thus, on Nov. 13, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. would unilaterally reduce its “operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next decade.” This was far less than the 6,000 limit allowed under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Russian President Vladimir Putin promptly said in December 2001 that Russia would similarly reduce its nuclear forces.

Thus, benefiting from the happy reality that the Cold War was over, each country felt free to cut its arsenal, whether or not the other committed itself to do so. The 2002 Moscow Treaty, which simply made legally binding the reduction pledges each president had already announced, was negotiated as a friendly gesture to Russia. U.S. officials did not see it as a strategic necessity, but Mr. Putin wanted formal acknowledgment that Russia retained nuclear-arms parity with the U.S., though it could no longer be seen as America’s peer overall.

Now, with START set to expire in December, it is Mr. Obama who’s intent on signing a new treaty. He says U.S.-Russian arms reductions will help stem nuclear proliferation.

Mr. Obama here is mixing up pretext and policy. When criticized for pursuing nuclear weapons, proliferators like North Korea and Iran make diplomatic talking points out of the size of the great powers’ arsenals. They try to shift the focus away from themselves by complaining that the Americans and Russians aren’t working hard enough to reach disarmament goals envisioned in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But depriving proliferators of such talking points won’t affect their incentives to acquire nuclear weapons—or the world’s incentives to counter the dangers that the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs pose to international peace.

Nor would cutting the U.S. and Russian arsenals by a few hundred weapons do anything significant to achieve Mr. Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The roadblock is the fact of U.S. dependence on nuclear deterrence. So long as the security of the U.S. and of our allies and friends requires such dependence, a non-nuclear world will remain out of reach. Inventing a way to dispense with nuclear deterrence will require a political or technological breakthrough of major magnitude. Retaining our dependence on nuclear weapons even at somewhat lower levels is an admission by the Obama administration that the proposed reductions don’t actually bring us closer to a non-nuclear world.

With Mr. Obama openly eager for a START follow-on treaty, Russian leaders have chosen to play coy and become demanding. So what might the U.S. have to pay for it? The price is likely to be high, as suggested by the “Joint Understanding” the U.S. and Russian presidents announced last month in Moscow.

Point 5 of the Understanding specifies that the new treaty is to contain “a provision on the interrelationship of strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms.” Russia will use this language (which Bush administration officials repeatedly rejected) to try to derail U.S. plans for a Europe-based missile system designed to counter Iranian missile threats. If Russia succeeds here, the new treaty would increase the value to Iran of acquiring nuclear weapons. By making it easier for a nuclear-armed Iran to threaten all of Europe and eventually the U.S., the new treaty would promote rather than discourage nuclear proliferation.

Similarly, according to Point 6, the new treaty is to contain a provision on how non-nuclear, long-range strike weapons may affect strategic stability. Russia wants this to impede U.S. development of such weapons, probably by requiring that they be counted as if they had nuclear warheads. Hence the new treaty could shut down one of the more promising avenues for reducing U.S. dependence on nuclear arms for strategic strike.

All in all, the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policies appear confused and self-defeating. Mr. Obama seems willing to pay for arms reductions that Russian officials have made clear will occur soon, due to aging or the planned modernization of systems, with or without a new treaty. Moreover, the Obama administration is opposing modernization measures designed to protect against the risk that the aging of U.S. weapons will compromise their safety or reliability.

There is an important connection between proliferation risks and modernization. But the Obama administration seems to have it backwards. If the U.S. fails to ensure the continuing safety and reliability of its arsenal, it could cause the collapse of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and others might decide that their security requires them to acquire their own nuclear arsenals, rather than rely indefinitely on the U.S. The world could reach a tipping point, with cascading nuclear proliferation, as the bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission warned in its May 2009 report.

The Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policies—including its treaty talks with Russia—affect the way America’s friends and potential adversaries view the integrity of the U.S. deterrent. The wrong policies can endanger the U.S. directly. They can also cause other states to lose confidence in the American nuclear umbrella and to seek security in national nuclear capabilities.

If that happens, the dangers of a nuclear war somewhere in the world would go up substantially. It would not be the first time a U.S. government helped bring about the opposite of its intended result—but it might be one of the costliest mistakes ever.

Mr. Feith, a former under secretary of defense for policy (2001-05), is the author of “War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism” (HarperCollins, 2008). Mr. Shulsky is a former Defense Department official who dealt with arms control issues. Both are senior fellows at the Hudson Institute.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WaPo Editorial On Nabucco and Russia's "campaign to turn its neighbors into satellites, using blunt instruments such as military force"

A Well-Placed Pipeline. WaPo Editorial
How Russia's 19th-century policies produced some 21st-century cooperation
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S appeal to Russia last week that it move beyond a "19th-century" foreign policy appears to have had little impact on President Dmitry Medvedev. Yesterday found Mr. Medvedev in Tskhinvali, the capital of the Georgian province of South Ossetia, which Russia invaded last August and then unilaterally recognized as an independent state. Coming just six days after Mr. Obama left Moscow, the message of Mr. Medvedev's provocative visit was unmistakable: Russia has no intention of abandoning its campaign to turn its neighbors into satellites, using blunt instruments such as military force and its control of energy supplies.

That's why it was encouraging that yesterday also brought a multinational meeting in Ankara at which Turkey and four European countries formally agreed to route a new natural gas pipeline across their territories. The Nabucco project would carry gas from the Caspian Sea region and the Middle East to Europe through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria -- thereby providing a path for European energy supplies not controlled by Russia. Though energy pipelines are not usually the subject of international politics and high diplomacy, Moscow has made them so. Twice in the past four years, it has turned off a pipeline that supplies countries across Europe in an attempt to undermine the democratic government of Ukraine, which, like Georgia, has refused to become a Kremlin vassal.

The midwinter blackmail, personally overseen by Mr. Medvedev's mentor, Vladimir Putin, has had the effect of vitalizing a project that once looked like little more than a pipe dream. Nabucco, which will extend 2,000 miles and cost more than $10 billion to construct, was championed tirelessly by the Bush administration. But the countries that would most benefit from it, such as Hungary and Austria, were more interested in negotiating new pipeline routes with Russia until recently. Now they appear to recognize that diversifying their sources of gas is essential to their national security -- and also to promoting a Russia that will not seek to use its natural resources as a means to rebuild the Soviet empire.

The new pipeline is hardly a panacea. At best it will supply about 10 percent of Europe's gas consumption, sometime after 2014. The product to fill it still needs to be found: Though Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Syria and Egypt have all expressed interest in selling gas through Nabucco, none has committed to doing so. Still, yesterday's signing was an important step toward a more secure Europe; it is a lot more likely to produce results than Mr. Medvedev's lonely trip to Tskhinvali.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Federal President's comments on Moscow about the Cold War

Obama Rewrites the Cold War. By LIZ CHENEY
The President has a duty to stand up to the lies of our enemies.
WSJ, Jul 13, 2009

There are two different versions of the story of the end of the Cold War: the Russian version, and the truth. President Barack Obama endorsed the Russian version in Moscow last week.

Speaking to a group of students, our president explained it this way: "The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."

The truth, of course, is that the Soviets ran a brutal, authoritarian regime. The KGB killed their opponents or dragged them off to the Gulag. There was no free press, no freedom of speech, no freedom of worship, no freedom of any kind. The basis of the Cold War was not "competition in astrophysics and athletics." It was a global battle between tyranny and freedom. The Soviet "sphere of influence" was delineated by walls and barbed wire and tanks and secret police to prevent people from escaping. America was an unmatched force for good in the world during the Cold War. The Soviets were not. The Cold War ended not because the Soviets decided it should but because they were no match for the forces of freedom and the commitment of free nations to defend liberty and defeat Communism.

It is irresponsible for an American president to go to Moscow and tell a room full of young Russians less than the truth about how the Cold War ended. One wonders whether this was just an attempt to push "reset" -- or maybe to curry favor. Perhaps, most concerning of all, Mr. Obama believes what he said.

Mr. Obama's method for pushing reset around the world is becoming clearer with each foreign trip. He proclaims moral equivalence between the U.S. and our adversaries, he readily accepts a false historical narrative, and he refuses to stand up against anti-American lies.

The approach was evident in his speech in Moscow and in his speech in Cairo last month. In Cairo, he asserted there was some sort of equivalence between American support for the 1953 coup in Iran and the evil that the Iranian mullahs have done in the world since 1979. On an earlier trip to Mexico City, the president listened to an extended anti-American screed by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and then let the lies stand by responding only with, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for the things that occurred when I was 3 months old."

Asked at a NATO meeting in France in April whether he believed in American exceptionalism, the president said, "I believe in American Exceptionalism just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." In other words, not so much.

The Obama administration does seem to believe in another kind of exceptionalism -- Obama exceptionalism. "We have the best brand on Earth: the Obama brand," one Obama handler has said. What they don't seem to realize is that once you're president, your brand is America, and the American people expect you to defend us against lies, not embrace or ignore them. We also expect you to know your history.

Mr. Obama has become fond of saying, as he did in Russia again last week, that American nuclear disarmament will encourage the North Koreans and the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. Does he really believe that the North Koreans and the Iranians are simply waiting for America to cut funds for missile defense and reduce our strategic nuclear stockpile before they halt their weapons programs?

The White House ought to take a lesson from President Harry Truman. In April, 1950, Truman signed National Security Council report 68 (NSC-68). One of the foundational documents of America's Cold War strategy, NSC-68 explains the danger of disarming America in the hope of appeasing our enemies. "No people in history," it reads, "have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies."

Perhaps Mr. Obama thinks he is making America inoffensive to our enemies. In reality, he is emboldening them and weakening us. America can be disarmed literally -- by cutting our weapons systems and our defensive capabilities -- as Mr. Obama has agreed to do. We can also be disarmed morally by a president who spreads false narratives about our history or who accepts, even if by his silence, our enemies' lies about us.

Ms. Cheney served as deputy assistant secretary of state and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2002-2004 and 2005-2006.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"New START": The Chinese and Iranians must like what they see; not so Japan

A Troubling START. WSJ Editorial
The Chinese and Iranians must like what they see; not so Japan.
WSJ, Jul 08, 2009

President Obama leaves Moscow today happy to tout a breakthrough on arms control. The "joint understanding" with Russia pledges to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new agreement -- the niftily named "New START" -- by year's end. This "moral" example, we are supposed to believe, will eventually lead to the nuclear-free world the President first promised this spring in Prague.

Before Nirvana renders the American nuclear umbrella obsolete, however, the Administration could clarify some details for us mere mortals. For starters, at what point do the reductions in the nuclear arsenal make the U.S. and our allies less safe? Why make such deep cuts in the number of strategic bombers and submarines that we're likely to need in any future conventional conflict? And, as long as we're talking details, shouldn't the Senate get a long look at a deal being rushed together to meet the artificial deadline of START's expiration in December?

The Administration's soaring rhetoric about denuclearization seems intended to blind everyone to these questions. In his comments in Moscow, Mr. Obama emphasized that Russia and the U.S. will set an example that the rest of world will follow.

"It's naïve for us to think . . . that we can grow our nuclear stockpiles," he said, "and that in that environment we're going to be able to pressure countries like Iran and North Korea not to pursue nuclear weapons themselves." Call us realists or even cynics, but we doubt Mr. Obama's performance in Moscow will matter at all to Iranian and North Korean nuclear ambitions. These and other rogues want the bomb to project their own power, not to defend against ours.

Some argue that this deal-making is nothing much because both sides will retain huge arsenals. Neither country actually has any desire, or in the Russian case ability, to grow its stockpile, so the new START treaty is said to be mostly for diplomatic show. But the Russians, though greatly diminished in global status, remain savvy negotiators, and Vladimir Putin has tried for most of this decade to cut the U.S. down to his size. "New START" could help him do it.

Monday's understanding gives negotiators the mandate to reduce the number of strategic warheads to between 1,500-1,675, down from the maximum allowable today of 2,200. More important are the strategic delivery vehicles, which will fall to a range of 500-1100. The current START treaty, which the Obama Administration chose to replace rather than simply extend, puts the ceiling at 1,600.

The Russians are already phasing out some of their delivery hardware, such as missiles and bombers, and they wouldn't mind getting double credit for it in a new treaty. The wide range noted in the "understanding" was inserted after Russia demanded steeper cuts than initially envisioned by Washington. Russian officials cite worries the U.S. could more easily retrofit missiles with new warheads, if necessary. As of January, America said it had about 1,200 delivery systems and Russia reported about 800.

Mr. Obama's negotiators would be wise to be wary. The odds that America will take part in a nuclear war are low. But the long-range bombers, submarines and missiles under discussion are an important part of the far superior American conventional arsenal. No wonder the Russians are so eager to have America reduce those numbers.

China, too, must be rooting for a lower floor. As delivery vehicle and warhead numbers go down, the U.S. will at some point approach strategic parity with rising powers such as China, which have a smaller nuclear arsenal and weaker army. A reduced U.S. posture may also give our allies -- Japan and South Korea in Asia, or Turkey in NATO -- cause to doubt America's commitment to a large and credible enough nuclear arsenal able to protect them. They will then seek to develop their own atomic bombs, however quietly. The Obama Administration's flagging commitment to missile defense, which is being cut in the 2010 budget, further undermines America's ability to defend itself and its allies from nuclear attack.

It is especially strange that the Administration has taken these steps before completing the review of nuclear strategy mandated by Congress. But then, the Administration may also do a run around the Senate (and the Constitution) with the new START treaty -- naturally, for the higher cause of peace in our time. The White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control, Gary Samore, said on Sunday that the Administration may have to enact certain provisions of the treaty by executive order and on "a provisional basis" to meet the December deadline.

Considering all of the other unanswered questions about the Administration's nuclear posture, an agreement with Russia that would lock the U.S. into steep cuts in its defenses needs far more public and Senate scrutiny than it is receiving.

The new talks with Moscow could put the U.S. nuclear deterrent in jeopardy

Arms Control Amnesia. By KEITH B. PAYNE
The new talks with Moscow could put the U.S. nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. Here are the facts.
The Wall Street Journal, p A15

Three hours after arriving at the Kremlin yesterday, President Barack Obama signed a preliminary agreement on a new nuclear arms-control treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The agreement -- a clear road map for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) -- commits the U.S. and Russia to cut their nuclear weapons to the lowest levels since the early years of the Cold War.

Mr. Obama praised the agreement as a step forward, away from the "suspicion and rivalry of the past," while Mr. Medvedev hailed it as a "reasonable compromise." In fact, given the range of force levels it permits, this agreement has the potential to compromise U.S. security -- depending on what happens next.

In the first place, locking in specific reductions for U.S. forces prior to the conclusion of the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review is putting the cart before the horse. The Obama administration's team at the Pentagon is currently examining U.S. strategic force requirements. Before specific limits are set on U.S. forces, it should complete the review. Strategic requirements should drive force numbers; arms-control numbers should not dictate strategy.

Second, the new agreement not only calls for reductions in the number of nuclear warheads (to between 1,500 and 1,675), but for cuts in the number of strategic force launchers. Under the 1991 START I Treaty, each side was limited to 1,600 launchers. Yesterday's agreement calls for each side to be limited to between 500 and 1,100 launchers each.

According to open Russian sources, it was Russia that pushed for the lower limit of 500 launchers in negotiations. In the weeks leading up to this summit, it also has been openly stated that Moscow would like the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles (SLBMS), and strategic bombers to be reduced "several times" below the current limit of 1,600. Moving toward very low numbers of launchers is a smart position for Russia, but not for the U.S.

Why? Because the number of deployed Russian strategic ICBMs, SLBMs, and bombers will drop dramatically simply as a result of their aging. In other words, a large number of Russian launchers will be removed from service with or without a new arms-control agreement.

The Obama administration will undoubtedly come under heavy pressure to move to the low end of the 500-1,100 limit on launchers in order to match Russian reductions. But it need not and should not do so. Based solely on open Russian sources, by 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today. With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces.

Mr. Medvedev's solution is to negotiate, inviting the U.S. to make real cuts, while Russia eliminates nothing that it wouldn't retire in any event.

This isn't just my conclusion -- it's the conclusion of many Russian officials and commentators. Russian Gen. Nikolay Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Troops, was recently quoted by Moscow Interfax-AVN Online as saying that "not a single Russian launcher" with "remaining service life" will be withdrawn under a new agreement. Noted Russian journalist Pavel Felgengauer observed in Novaya Gazeta that Russian leaders "have demanded of the Americans unilateral concessions on all points, offering practically nothing in exchange." Precisely.

Beyond the bad negotiating principle of giving up something for nothing, there will be serious downsides if the U.S. actually reduces its strategic launchers as much as Moscow wishes. The bipartisan Congressional Strategic Posture Commission -- headed by former secretaries of defense William J. Perry and James R. Schlesinger -- concluded that the U.S. could make reductions "if this were done while also preserving the resilience and survivability of U.S. forces." Having very low numbers of launchers would make the U.S. more vulnerable to destabilizing first-strike dangers, and would reduce or eliminate the U.S. ability to adapt its nuclear deterrent to an increasingly diverse set of post-Cold War nuclear and biological weapons threats.

Accepting low launcher numbers would also encourage placing more warheads on the remaining ICBMs -- i.e., "MIRVing," or adding multiple independently targeted warheads on a single missile. This is what the Russians openly say they are planning to do. Yet the U.S. has long sought to move away from MIRVed ICBMs as part of START, because heavy MIRVing can make each ICBM a more tempting target. One measure of U.S. success will be in resisting the Russian claim that severely reducing launcher numbers is somehow necessary and "stabilizing." It would be neither.

Third, the new agreement appears to defer the matter of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. Russia has some 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons and many thousands more in reserve; U.S. officials have said that Russia has an astounding 10 to 1 numerical advantage. These weapons are of greatest concern with regard to the potential for nuclear war, and they should be our focus for arms reduction. The Perry-Schlesinger commission report identified Russian tactical nuclear weapons as an "urgent" problem. Yet at this point, they appear to be off the table.

The administration may hope to negotiate reductions in tactical nuclear weapons later. But Russia has rejected this in the past, and nothing seems to have changed. As Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences said recently in Moscow Interfax-AVN Online, "A treaty on the limitation and reduction of tactical nuclear weapons looks absolutely unrealistic." If the U.S. hopes to address this real problem, it must maintain negotiating leverage in the form of strategic launchers and weapons.

Fourth, Mr. Medvedev was quoted recently in RIA Novosti as saying that strategic reductions are possible only if the U.S. alleviates Russian concerns about "U.S. plans to create a global missile defense." There will surely be domestic and international pressure on the U.S. to limit missile defense to facilitate Russian reductions under the new treaty. But the U.S. need for missile defense has little to do with Russia. And the value of missile defense could not be clearer given recent North Korean belligerence. The Russians are demanding this linkage, at least in part to kill our missile defense site in Europe intended to defend against Iranian missiles. Another measure of U.S. success will be to avoid such linkages.

In short, Russian leaders hope to control or eliminate many elements of U.S. military power in exchange for strategic force reductions they will have to make anyway. U.S. leaders should not agree to pay Russia many times over for essentially an empty box.

Finally, Russian violations of its existing arms-control commitments must be addressed along with any new commitments. According to an August 2005 State Department report, Russia has violated START verification and other arms-control commitments in multiple ways. One significant violation has even been discussed openly in Russian publications -- the testing of the SS-27 ICBM with MIRVs in direct violation of START I.

President Obama should recall Winston Churchill's warning: "Be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands." There is no need for the U.S. to accept Russian demands for missile-defense linkage, or deep reductions in the number of our ICBMs, SLBMs and bombers, to realize much lower numbers of Russian strategic systems. There is also no basis for expecting Russian goodwill if we do so.

Mr. Payne, a professor of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, is a member of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission, which was established by Congress to assess U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities. This op-ed is adapted from testimony given before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on June 24.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Retro agenda: Arms control and arm-chair Kremlinology

Obama and Putin's Russia. WSJ Editorial
Retro agenda: Arms control and arm-chair Kremlinology.
The Wall Street Journal, Jul 06, 2009, p A12

An American President lands in Moscow today to negotiate an arms control treaty. Befitting that retro theme, thousands of Russian troops are in the midst of the biggest war games in the south Caucasus since the end of the Cold War, menacing the small, independent nation of Georgia.

President Obama's two days in Moscow are supposed to foster, in an adviser's words, "a more substantive relationship with Russia" -- the substance being Iran's atomic ambitions, the war in Afghanistan and a replacement for the soon-to-expire Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. You know, the stuff of a quasi-superpower partnership. But Russia hardly looks super, or inclined to forge a partnership, except on its own terms.

Instead, Supreme Leader Vladimir Putin wants to settle old scores and establish what he calls "a zone of privileged interest." He must appreciate Mr. Obama's eagerness to change the subject from Russian belligerence to nuclear weapons, which plays up Russia's remaining claim to superpower status. How that serves America's interests isn't clear.

As in the weeks before Russia invaded Georgia in August, tensions are again on the rise. At least 8,500 Russian troops are involved in exercises around Abkhazia and South Ossetia, breakaway Georgian regions recognized as independent solely by Russia and Nicaragua. Last month, Moscow vetoed the renewal of U.N. and European observer missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both had been there since the early 1990s. President Mikheil Saakashvili, a young Columbia-trained lawyer who turned Georgia westward, remains an irritant for Russia. A pro-Kremlin regime in Georgia would give Moscow control over the energy routes through the Caucasus and influence independent-minded Azerbaijan and Armenia.

While Russia has failed even to comply with the terms of the truce, the U.S. and its allies are acting as if that war never happened. At this summit, Mr. Obama is to announce the restoration of bilateral military relations with Russia suspended by the Bush Administration. The NATO-Russian Council is also back in business. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has put on hold plans by Poland and the Czech Republic to allow the U.S. to deploy American missile defenses on their soil. In a letter to Kremlin frontman Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year, Mr. Obama floated the idea of trashing those deals if Russia can prod Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. officials say they've ruled out quid pro quos on missile defense or Ukraine and Georgia's future. Nonetheless, Russian officials are all too happy to consider grand bargains. All start with America abandoning any future NATO expansion. In pre-summit interviews, Mr. Obama also skipped over such touchy Kremlin subjects as human rights and its designs on neighboring states. "The main thing that I want to communicate to the Russian leadership and the Russian people is America's respect for Russia," he told Russian media, noting that "it remains one of the most powerful countries in the world." Someone keeps telling American Presidents to stroke the bear's fragile ego above all else. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also pursued this strategy, to little good effect.

Here's an idea. Set aside the dime-store national psychoanalysis and return to first American principles and interests. This summit rests on a fiction: That Russia is an equal power to the U.S. that can offer something concrete in return for American indulgence. Some Russians see through the pretense. "Let's be frank: There's not a single serious global issue where the United States is dependent on Russia today," the pro-Kremlin political analyst, Gleb Pavlovsky, wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta last week. Russia's decision to let the U.S. resupply its Afghan troops over Russian airspace is a goodwill gesture, but it was only offered after Russia failed to stop resupply via Kyrgyzstan.

From the moment Communism collapsed, America's overriding national interest in Europe and Eurasia has been to extend prosperity and freedom. In short, to offer formerly captive nations a choice to join the West. This can be done in part through membership in NATO, the EU or the World Trade Organization. The "West" is an idea as well as a place, a voluntary and open association. Successive U.S. Presidents, when push came to shove, have defended the right to make this choice freely and ignored Russian caterwauls.

The choice to join the free world is open to Russia, too. Mr. Putin is the one who has taken that option off the table -- most recently by pulling Russia's application to join the WTO. In the Putin decade, nationalism, corruption and cronyism have flourished while Russia has missed another chance to modernize. That's not America's fault.

Any U.S. administration will have plenty of business to carry out with Russia. But an American President in Moscow needs to keep his eyes on the bigger prize in Russia and the region. And that prize is an expansion of freedom, not a new START treaty.

The President's Mission to Moscow

The President's Mission to Moscow. By DAVID SATTER
Obama doesn't need to engage Russia's leaders. He needs to deter them.
The Wall Street Journal, Jul 06, 2009, p A13

Moscow

President Barack Obama arrives here today facing a dilemma of his own making. Having called for a "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations, the U.S. side is virtually obliged to make some new overtures. But Russia does not need to be engaged. It needs to be deterred.

The expectations that Mr. Obama has inspired are substantial. Both officials and ordinary citizens in Russia interpret the call for a reset as an admission of U.S. guilt for ignoring Russia's interests. Sergei Rybakov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said that mutual trust was "lacking over the last several years." It was the task of the U.S. to show its good intentions with "concrete actions" because in Russia, the U.S. is "deeply distrusted."

Accepting the Russian view of reality on the issues that divide the U.S. and Russia, however, would be a grave mistake. Russia aspires to resurrect a version of the Soviet Union in which it projects power and dominates its neighbors. To encourage its ambitions in any way would be to undermine not only U.S. security but, in the long run, the security of Russia as well.

There are three important areas of conflict between the U.S. and Russia: NATO expansion, the U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe and the Russian human rights situation. In each case, any reset should be on the Russian side.

The most urgent issue may be NATO expansion. There are serious indications that Russia is preparing for a second invasion of Georgia. The first Georgian war was accompanied by a burst of patriotism in Russia but didn't achieve its strategic objectives. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili remains in power and Georgia remains a supply corridor to the West for energy from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea. Many Russian leaders want to finish the job. At a televised forum in December, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was asked about press reports that he had told French president Nicolas Sarkozy that Mr. Saakashvili should be "hung by his ba**s." He replied, "Why only by one part?"

Under these circumstances, the best protection for Georgia is NATO membership. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defense analyst with Novaya Gazeta, the decision to invade Georgia last August came in April after NATO failed to offer outright a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine at its annual summit in Bucharest.

Russia will argue strenuously that Georgia, Ukraine and the other former Soviet republics are part of its sphere of "privileged interests." This is an issue on which Mr. Obama cannot give way. If the former Soviet republics are denied NATO membership at Russia's behest, they either will be turned into Russian satellites with manipulated elections and a controlled foreign policy or form a zone of instability along Russia's borders with unpredictable consequences for both Russia and the West.

Beside the issue of NATO expansion, Russia and the U.S. have a critical conflict over U.S. plans to install a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. Not only have U.S. experts argued that the anti-missile system is not aimed at Russia but Russia's military experts agree. Nonetheless, the system is described by Russian leaders as a threat and denunciations of the missile shield are a staple of the anti-Western programming on Russian state television.

According to Mikhail Delyagin, who served as an adviser to former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the placement of rockets in Poland is unacceptable to Russia for emotional and symbolic reasons. "It shows that the U.S. is now the master in Eastern Europe," he said. Any decision to yield to Russian objections, however, would effectively divide NATO into countries that need Russian approval for deployments and those that do not. Even dubious Russian promises to help with Iran would not compensate for the damage done to the alliance by such a concession to Russian pretensions.

Finally, there is the conflict between Russia and the U.S. over human rights. The status of human rights is a universal concern but it also has strategic implications. A population that lacks democratic rights and is subject to constant anti-Western propaganda can easily be mobilized against the U.S.

By any measure, the state of human rights in Russia is unacceptable. Russia today lacks honest elections or a separation of powers. The regime allows a degree of freedom but the features of daily life include police torture, prisoner abuse, political control of the courts and, for democratic activists, the danger of being beaten or killed. The result is that fear has returned to Russia less than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The regime is also taking steps to curtail freedom of speech. Freedom of the press has long been restricted under Mr. Putin with censorship on state run television and pressure on newspapers through their owners, to exercise self censorship. Peaceful demonstrations have also been forcibly dispersed. In recent weeks, however, a bill has been introduced in the State Duma that would make it illegal to deny the role of the Soviet Union in the victory in World War II or the crimes of Hitler's cronies (but not the crimes of Stalin and his entourage). The punishment both for Russian citizens and for foreigners will be three to five years in prison.

In the run up to Mr. Obama's visit, Russian academics and self described realists in the U.S. have called for a "grand deal" in which the U.S. accedes to Russian demands in the former Soviet Union in return for Russian help on Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. In the case of Iran, Russia, which has repeatedly thwarted tough United Nations resolutions on that country's nuclear energy program, is offering to assist in dealing with a problem that it helped to create.

Unfortunately such a deal, the only "reset" in which the Russians have shown any interest, would eliminate moral criteria from the U.S.-Russian relationship and deprive the U.S. of any basis for limiting Russia's demands in the future. Under those circumstances, Russia's appetite is likely to grow.

Mr. Obama may wish to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship but the problems in that relationship come not from our actions but from assumptions on the Russian side about the prerogatives of power that we cannot possibly accept. Instead of resetting relations, we may just have to content ourselves with resisting Russian pretensions until such time as the mentality that gives rise to them can be changed.

Mr. Satter is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is writing a book on the Russian attitude to the Soviet past.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Russia Presents Test for Obama

Russia Presents Test for Obama. By Michael A. Fletcher and Philip P. Pan
Washington Post, Sunday, July 5, 2009

President Obama is scheduled to leave Washington tonight on a week-long trip that will help determine whether his personal popularity and fresh policy approaches can yield concrete results on difficult issues including arms control, missile defense and nuclear nonproliferation.

After seeking support for U.S. policies from allies in Europe and appealing for a new relationship with the Muslim world in Cairo on previous trips, Obama arrives in Moscow tomorrow for his first foray into high-profile, nuts-and-bolts negotiations with the leader of a nation that might be deemed an unfriendly rival.

On Wednesday, Obama will travel to L'Aquila, Italy, where he will meet with leaders of the world's major industrial powers. Climate change and the continued shaky global economy are expected to dominate the agenda. He is also to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

On Friday, Obama will go to Ghana, where he is expected to highlight that nation's burgeoning democratic tradition and to deliver a speech on his administration's goals for the developing world.

Shortly after taking office, the Obama administration made clear that it wants to "reset" relations between the United States and Russia, which had deteriorated under President George W. Bush. During Obama's first meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in London in April, the two agreed to a broad statement of cooperation on numerous issues.

Both the White House and the Kremlin hope to build on that with a summit in Moscow, and agreements on subjects including Afghanistan and nuclear proliferation are expected to be unveiled. But fundamental differences remain on key issues that have strained U.S.-Russian relations.

Medvedev wants U.S. pledges to scrap a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and to rule out military alliances with the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine. Obama wants Russia to back tough sanctions against Iran if diplomatic efforts to curb its nuclear program fail. Neither president has indicated any willingness to yield.

"We're not going to reassure or give or trade anything with the Russians regarding NATO expansion or missile defense," said Michael McFaul, special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs. "We're going to define our national interests, and by that I also mean the interests of our allies in Europe with reference to these two particular questions."

Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev's chief foreign policy adviser, struck a similar tone. "Saying that it will be easy to move forward would mean deluding ourselves," he told reporters. "The domestic agendas of both leaders and their agendas in dealings with allies do not always coincide. Sometimes, they contradict each other directly or indirectly. But the question is . . . whether we want to expand mutual understanding or focus on defending our own positions on sensitive issues."

Obama is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom analysts called the preeminent power in Russian politics. Obama told the Associated Press last week that the former Russian president must move beyond a Cold War approach to relations with the United States.

The willingness of Obama and Medvedev to compromise will be tested when they discuss a treaty to replace the landmark START I nuclear arms control pact, which expires in December.

The United States and Russia control more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. After three months of talks, negotiators have agreed to modest reductions below the limits of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads established by the 2002 Treaty of Moscow. But they remain deadlocked on how to count and limit the number of "delivery systems," or missiles and heavy bombers, that each nation can keep.

Medvedev publicly declared two weeks ago that no treaty is possible unless "the United States lifts Russia's concerns" about its plans to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama has not decided what to do about the system, said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to discuss internal deliberations publicly.

The United States is reviewing other options for missile defense and has tried unsuccessfully to engage the Kremlin on the issue, he said. "We're serious about cooperation on missile defense with the Russians," he said. "But the sense is the Russians are still nervous and don't trust us."

Russian officials have publicly endorsed the idea of cooperation on missile defense, but have called on Obama to abandon the Polish-Czech plan first and emphasized they want to be included from the ground up, beginning with joint assessment of threats. The two sides have discussed opening a Moscow-based joint data exchange center.

Obama hopes to gain Russian cooperation on other topics, including energy efficiency and climate change. Russia is one of the world's largest energy producers, but it is also a leading emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the United States and China, according to the Center for American Progress.

The summit is expected to produce a deal allowing the United States to ship weapons to Afghanistan through Russia. The two sides may also agree to share intelligence and fight Afghanistan drug trafficking. Officials said the sides are also working to revive a pact on civilian nuclear energy cooperation that the Bush administration suspended after Russia's war last year with Georgia, and to strengthen military ties, also downgraded after the war.

Some business deals, including one involving Boeing, are also expected, analysts said, but they could be overshadowed by disappointment over Putin's decision to withdraw Russia's application for World Trade Organization membership last month.

Obama also is scheduled to deliver a speech in Moscow in which aides say he will try to dispel the feeling in Russia that America's self-interest lies in a weak Russia.

"This is not 1974. This is not just where we go do an arms control agreement with the Soviets, but that we have a multidimensional relationship with the Russian government and with the Russian people," McFaul said.

Pan reported from Moscow. Staff writer Mary Beth Sheridan contributed to this report.