Category Archives for "International Relations"
Arkady Ostrovky looks at Russia, Putin, Wars and Nationalism, and why Russia has not yet become a free-market democracy. His review illuminates how much has changed and stayed the same in Russia over the last half century.
Russia has no intention of going to war with America or its allies. Instead it will act through non-military means “to undermine the general political and strategic potential of major Western powers, to disrupt national self-confidence, to increase social and industrial unrest, to stimulate all forms of disunity…
Anti-British talk will be plugged among Americans, anti-American talk among British. Germans will be taught to abhor both Anglo-Saxon powers. Where suspicions exist, they will be fanned; where not, ignited.”
So wrote George Kennan, the “wise man” of American diplomacy, in a famous telegram from Moscow in 1946.
Seventy years later the telegram seems as relevant as ever, because the system that Kennan described is being rebuilt.
Russia modified and liberalized after the collapse of the Soviet Union, creating private ownership, launching new industries, and freeing people to make money, consume and travel. The state retreated. Although TV, radio and print are controlled, the internet is free. At critical junctures an elite came to dominate the economy resurrecting the old spy service. The path of least resistance seemed to be chauvinism and paranoia, and the Kremlin’s traditional neurotic view of world affairs.
Putin’s skill has been to co-opt the public along the same lines. His propaganda builds on the disrespect and disbelief Russian’s have for objective truth. When all facts serve some purpose, it is easy to portray the West’s policies as rigged and as hypocritical as Russia’s are.
The new nationalism builds on traditional Russian insecurities, resentments and jealousies and is something the population wants to believe.
A Special Report in the Economist.
Why Russia Seems Strong but is Weak. Your comments welcome below.
The way NATO is currently arranged it cannot defend the territory of the Baltic countries.
Robert Cottrell looks at the increasing threat of Russia to NATO and the Baltic States. He reviews 2017: War with Russia by General Sir Richard Shirreff, recently NATOs second in command, examining the possibility of conflict, how it might happen, and what went wrong where.
Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga is 60 hours.
Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but disastrous consequences for the Alliance and the people of the Baltics.
Sometimes the impossible is only seen to be possible after it’s happened. 2017: War with Russia is written in the manner of a popular thriller, yet it is based on the facts of senior military commander. It outlines a real possibility. Imagining a Russian invasion it shows how NATO could come under attack.
by Louis Sell
Duke University Press, 408 pp., $27.95 (paper)