Monday, March 20, 2006

Is the National Security Strategy Working?

Only a few days after the Bush Administration released its National Security Strategy, it seems to be paying dividends already. On Friday, Iran began making noises about a willingness to talk directly with the US. Today, it's Russia's turn. I've blogged many times about the need to put pressure on Russia to choose where its destiny lies: Cooperating with the US and the West, or as an obstructionist country using its Security Council veto to block the spread of the western community. Although Russia no longer is a global player in terms of its real power, its presence on the UN Security Council and its veto means that Russia must be taken seriously when trying to utilize the UN to achieve political goals, like dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.

Today, Russia is complaining about some of the content of the National Security Strategy. Which part has upset the Great Bear? The part about preventive/preemptive war? Nope. Russia is upset that the US has criticized Russia's slide away from democracy under Putin, as well as a two-paragraph section indicating that Russia's policies in the Middle East and Asia could undermine US-Russian relations. Here are the paragraphs in question:

5. Russia

The United States seeks to work closely with Russia on strategic issues of common interest and to manage issues on which we have differing interests. By reason of geography and power, Russia has great influence not only in Europe and its own immediate neighborhood, but also in many other regions of vital interest to us: the broader Middle East, South and Central Asia, and East Asia. We must encourage Russia to respect the values of freedom and democracy at home and not to impede the cause of freedom and democracy in these regions. Strengthening our relationship will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts. Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions. We will work to try to persuade the Russian Government to move forward, not backward, along freedom’s path.

Stability and prosperity in Russia’s neighborhood will help deepen our relations with Russia; but that stability will remain elusive as long as this region is not governed by effective democracies. We will seek to persuade Russia’s government that democratic progress in Russia and its region benefits the peoples who live there and improves relationships with us, with other Western governments, and among themselves. Conversely, efforts to prevent democratic development at home and abroad will hamper the development of Russia’s relations with the United States, Europe, and its neighbors.
If this is what's upsetting Russia, then Bush is on exactly the right track. Russia is no longer the Soviet Union of the Cold War with the power to set the international agenda. That role is solely occupied by the single global hegemon: the United States. If Russia wants to join the community of western advanced industrialized communities and benefit from that relationship, then it needs to play by the rules set by the US and the west. If it wants to continue to shield countries like Iran and Sudan, then it has to be prepared to be left behind.

1 comment:

Antiquated Tory said...

Isn't there also a question about the competition between the US and Russia for influence in the strategic Central Asian and Caucasian former Soviet republics?