Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Avoiding a New Cold War

Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, Secretaries of State under Republican Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, write about our relationship with Russia in a very important column today in the Washington Post. They promote the more nuanced position toward Russia that has been absent from our political campaign and that I talked about here. I don't quite know why Obama continues to be so hawkish on this issue. I hope that it may be to appear strong to the electorate (since that's always a weak point for Democrats), but if that is the case, I don't think it's a good idea. Either way, it bothers me.

Here are a few quotes:

This drift toward confrontation must be ended. However appropriate as a temporary device for showing our concern, isolating Russia is not a sustainable long-range policy. It is neither feasible nor desirable to isolate a country adjoining Europe, Asia and the Middle East and possessing a stockpile of nuclear weapons comparable to that of the United States. Given Russia's historically ambivalent and emotionally insecure relations with its environment, this approach is not likely to evoke considered or constructive responses. Even much of Western Europe is uneasy about such a course.

America has an important stake in the territorial integrity of an independent Georgia but not in a confrontational diplomacy toward Russia by its neighbors. Russia needs to understand that the use or threat of military force evokes memories that reinforce the very obstacles to cooperative relations that are the basis of its grievances. America must decide whether to deal with Russia as a possible strategic partner or as a threat to be combated by principles drawn from the Cold War.

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