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20 August 2008

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William R. Cumming

Sir John Keegan's book "On War" discussing the motives and pyschology of warfare historically and is in essential agreement with this post. The factor you mentioned, atomic/nuclear strike capability is still unknown as to whether it has altered man's predilections. Let's hope so but my guess is the 21st Century will see the arrival of at least the third atomic/nuclear attack. The real history of the post WWII Century appears to be almost certain to have been dominated by weapons proliferation of all types, including atomic/nuclear. So much for US leadership and competence in the certainty of the weighing of history.

praxis

A former US president once advised "to speak softly and carry a big stick." But today, we do strictly the opposite.
It is quite a sorry spectacle to see McCain's knee-jerk rhetoric when our "assistance" to the Georgians consists of... a few boxes of medical supplies.
The most distressing is that while McCain thinks he is scoring points at home, our adversaries and competitors abroad have all surely taken note.
Just wait for the backlash...

par4

Col. Wouldn't an exchange of nukes between U.S. and Russia cause significantly more than 100 mil. deaths?

Balint Somkuti

To support the colonel's reasoning I still remember my grandfather saying the americans spoke out loud to us to reach for freedom and let us down in silence when we did.

meletius

Well, I sincerely doubt that the McCain rhetoric on Georgia is going to turn "more careful", Col. Lang and I'll bet you don't think it will either.

This latest development with Russia is going to be presented as the reason for more "strength"---i.e. bellicose boneheaded rhetoric, to be followed up with increasing escalation of confrontation with Russa in Cheney Neocon Admin 2.0. It will be turned into a major theme of the 2008 campaign--who will be "stronger" against the now "evil" Russians.

There is no steam valve or off ramp in the way these neocons present things, and the American militarist people take it for granted that militarism solves all "problems"---yes, even now!

We can't learn the lessons of the past five years, let alone the "early Cold War".

VietnamVet

Colonel,

Excellent post.

Today listening to Secretary Rice crowing about the missile defense system in Poland, I couldn’t help but to have a shiver of fear. Russia is quite capable of destroying every city in America. It is the height of irrationality to deny this fact and continue to antagonize it for no good reason except to elect John McCain.

fbg46

One of the (several) frightening aspects about what passes for foreign policy with the neocons is that they don't seem to be able to distinguish between the Russians and the Iraqis.

That may be because, untouched by any experience with ground truth, many of them were the people in the foreign policy establishment during the twilight years of the Reagan Administration who were busily coming up with the doctrine of "winnable" nuclear war.

They're going to get us all killed if we're not careful.

Sidney O. Smith III

Increasingly, it looks like McCain will win. I cannot imagine a greater disaster for the US and the world. Honestly. Hagee’s dream of mushroom clouds.

Habakkuk mentioned the word “dread”. I second that description and even suggest the possibility of another one. It is what Claude Devereaux in Col. Lang’s novel experienced from time to time -- despair.

Sort of wonder if Hillary would have made a better run at this time in history but it is what it is. If she had won, then in a few years, she could have passed on the Democratic baton to Obama who would have gained in experience.

But maybe I am wrong. Sure hope so.

If McCain does win, then perhaps Democrats will at long last become frantic and try to curtail the power of the executive. That’s the glimmer of hope but it is asking the Democrats to do something they have never done. If history is any indication, particulalry that of the last few years, Democrats like an overly centralized federal government and they like an imperial presidency.

And such a strategy of course comes from the playbook of Ron Paul, who has warned us of the structural defects that gave rise to an imperial, even facist, State. I did not vote for him but credit where credit is due. Younger voters seemed to have liked him and, from what I have read, he received more contributions from the USM than any other candidate during primary season.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"honest about the limits of American power.">

Ignatius is right to raise this issue and I hope it emboldens his fellow journalists to same.

Also, excellent and sobering comment by Col. Lang on Ignatius' piece. Haven't thought about blast overpressures and CEP's in a long while.

Yours Truly

Col. : the leaders of the U.S. are treading on ground where even angels fear. Not much from Putin at the moment besides probably anger with the missiles in Poland. At least, I'm bettin' that he is a more rational man than what leaders one has in the U.S. ' Tis true that when all you've got is a hammer ( military might ), every problem is a nail.

Clifford Kiracofe

Russian responses to the New Cold War pushed by the US?

1. The Middle East with Assad's visit to Russia as an indicator...

"Mr Assad made it clear that weapons sales would top the agenda when he met his Russian counterpart. “Of course military and technical co-operation is the main issue,” he said. “Weapons purchases are very important. I think we should speed it up. Moreover, the West and Israel continue to put pressure on Russia.”...

“The Russians are back heavily in the region, and they are looking to Syria because the other Arab states are following the American line,” said Attallah Rumheen, a professor in Damascus University’s media faculty. Like tens of thousands of Syrians, he graduated from a Russian university. Books on Marxism and Leninism, mainly in Russian, line his library wall.

“For the last decade, the Russians were squeezed in the Middle East; they saw their influence falling and being replaced by the Americans. That is now coming to an end.

“The Russians have money, their economy is strong, and they are united domestically. That is the opposite of the situation in the US.”
Mr Rumheen said he expected to see a new Cold War spreading across the Middle East as the two powers vie for supremacy.

"The situation is heading towards a new Cold War, with a new polarisation of areas under Russian and US influence,” he said. “The Americans and the Russians must start talking properly again, otherwise a return to the Cold War is inevitable. I think the Cold War will return. It will be slightly different from before, but the essence will be the same.”

"“Like all countries, Syria is trying to advance and develop and for that it needs to be open to the world,” said Umran Zaubie, a political analyst and member of Syria’s ruling Baath Party.

“Syria wants to co-operate with the EU and has good relations with America, but the Americans have had sanctions against Syria and have tried to block our development. The Russians have not. For that reason, it is obvious which direction Syria must look.”
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20080820/FOREIGN/696838560/1133

2. So, we have six months more of Bushism-Neoconism. Then the strong possibility of its continuation under McCain the self-proclaimed "Scoop" Jackson Republican (ie, Neocon).

In this eventuality, we should expect, as McCain's statements indicate: 1) intensified push for a New Cold War with Russia and 2) continuing emphasis on Israel as a US global "strategic partner."

Tyler

Recent news:

Russia freezes military ties with NATO

Russian aircraft carrier group heading to Syria

Russians setting up bunkers and mortars around port town of Poti

Seems like the bear is everywhere in recent news.

S.D.

I find that Arnaud de Borchgraves comments interesting.

"...the future of NATO, now at stake, not in Georgia, but in Afghanistan..."

He also quotes Anthony Cordesman

As Anthony Cordesman, one of the most astute geopolitical experts in the United States, wrote: "The fighting in Georgia [was] not a warning about some new drift into great power confrontation or a new Cold War. It is a reminder that the world is not shaped by democratic values, international law, good intentions, globalism, rational bargains, or the search for dialogue."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies' senior strategic scholar, Mr. Cordesman added: "All of these elements do play an important role, but the classic power politics are just as real as ever. Nation-states still have the guns and missiles. More powerful states will bend or break the rules when they feel it is in their interest to do so and when there is no opposing power bloc that can pose a convincing threat."

Full Article here:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/21/from-tbilisi-to-taliban/

The Jacobins have certainly gotten us into a Laurel and Hardy 'Fine Mess'.

I would dearly have liked to have heard the late General W. Odom's thoughts on the developments in Georgia and the Caucasus. He was a staunch opponent of the neocon madness.

I was found it very interesting that the language spoken in Ossetia is apparently from the Iranic language family.

http://www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~siamakr/Kurdish/map.jpg

S.D.

stanley Henning

I think the apparent trend favoring McCain reveals a lot of scary aspects in our body politic, especially a lack of understanding of the fact that, if McCain "wins" it may really be that the "Neocons" will continue to pull the strings behind the scenes regardless of McCain's presence, and that could portend a continuing erosion of everything.

While he harps upon Obama's failure to recognize the "right decision" and "success" of the surge, this fails to recognize the "here today, gone tomorrow" realities of human affairs -- note, for instance, Russia's "peacekeeping" operation in Georgia.

The fact is, both candidates for President will, in large part, ultimately only be as successful as the quality of their appointed staffs and their effectiveness in overseeing them. This demands that the ideological environment and "bully-wimp" relationships reflected in the "W" era must be avoided at all costs.

Clifford Kiracofe

To get out from the US newsmedia censorship-propaganda bubble, this is of interest:

"The principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre, Valery Gergiev, has led a concert in Tskhinvali. The performance was staged next to the destroyed parliament building in the bombed-out capital of South Ossetia."

For video of the performance and remarks by Gergiev:
http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/29339/video

Tyler

Right now, for all intents and purposes, NATO is a paper tiger, with the exceptions of the French, Canadians, and British.

The idea that Afghanistan is some sort of NATO mission is a convienient lie to the foreign ministers of countries that have troops that simply take up space on a well guarded base in Kabul, Bagram, or Kandahar. As far as I know, the above nations I named are the only ones that can fight with zero restrictions. All the other nations in the "alliance" have restrictions placed on them that severely cripple any practical use. Examples include no patrols/fighting at night, no fighting except on the base (guard duty), or no fighting period (support).

TomB

I don't understand the thrust of a number of comments here to the effect that this business in Georgia puts the U.S. in a huge mess or reflects some major blundering on its part or etc.

While of course it may present some challenges to the U.S. and while the U.S. may have made some mistakes as regards same, it seems to me at least that by far the clear, overwhelming and enduring significance of what's happened is that it simply seems to have been a huge and maybe even a monumental blunder by Russia.

After all, what did it get for its little invasion? (Which might, after all, be seen as being its first real significant international "coming out" action after going tits-up in the form of the Soviet Union?)

Maybe—maybe—they'll take or get little Ossetia and/or Abkhakzia. But in the meantime what have they gotten otherwise other than just absolutely confirming or inflaming the historic fear and hatred of it by its neighbors and Europe and etc. based on the idea that in its new form the new Russia is no different from the old Russia (or indeed the Soviet Union) in just fundamentally and essentially being a predatory imperialist power? And I don't see how in the world this does anything but hurt Russia terribly and constrict it ever more in its relations with its neighbors to the use of mere force or threats of force. (Which would be serious enough alone, but is even more problematic for it given its now tremendously truncated—i.e., post-Soviet—form, and the massive expansion of NATO that has taken place all around it.)

I just read that before the invasion the clear majority of public opinion in Poland was very much against the installation of those NATO missiles, and that now, overnight, this has simply and absolutely switched 180 degrees in response. And I have no doubt that the same has also simultaneously occurred with the public opinion on in all of the Soviet Union's former satellites—including not only those who already wanted to join NATO, but also those who maybe did not want to before but sure as hell will now. And it can hardly have helped the Russian image in Western Europe either, I can't imagine.

So how does this do anything but get Russia the eternal thanks of the Ossetians in exchange for fanning the always and anyway just-underneath-the-surface fear of its neighbors about its fundamental nature? And how does it do anything other than make its beneficial relations with those neighbors—including its immensely food and oil-rich ones—ever more dependent on exercises of mere raw power? And this at a time when Russia's raw power other than what it possesses with its nukes is hardly very impressive.

Not smart I don't think. Indeed, a huge huge blunder on Russia's part that I suspect will haunt it for at least a decade or more and seriously constricts its freedom of future action. Maybe even so much of a blunder that it'll make the U.S.'s blunder in Iraq look like a mere hiccup.

Cheers,


Clifford Kiracofe

1. Pat Buchanan talks straight about Randy and the Neocons and McCain in his national column:

"Now Scheunemann is the neocon agent in place in McCain's camp.

"The neocons got their war with Iraq. They are pushing for war on Iran. And they are now baiting the Russian Bear.

"Is this what McCain has on offer? Endless war?

"Why would McCain seek foreign policy counsel from the same discredited crowd that has all but destroyed the presidency of George Bush?

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence ... a free people ought to be constantly awake," Washington warned in his Farewell Address. Our Founding Father was warning against the Randy Scheunemanns among us, agents hired by foreign powers to deceive Americans into fighting their wars. And none dare call it treason."

2. TIME magazine honestly and boldly reports on Israeli military aid to Georgia:

"the impression that Israel had helped bolster the Georgian military was one the Israeli Foreign Ministry was anxious to avoid..."
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1834785,00.html

3. Doug Bandow reviews Bacevich on new book:

"If there is one principle that seems to mark neoconservative thought, it is that there are no limits to American power. So long as the American people are united, so long as they exhibit the necessary will, world domination will come naturally, even effortlessly. Anyone dissenting from this consensus obviously is a defeatist or traitor, someone who hates America and blames America first, who hopes to see American forces defeated on the battlefield...."

"The pervasive unreality underlying U.S. foreign policy is evident in the Bush Administration's and especially John McCain's pronouncements regarding Russia and Georgia. Over the last couple decades the U.S. has bombed, invaded, occupied, and/or vanquished Grenada, Panama, Haiti (twice), the Bosnian Serbs, Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq (twice), creating the illusion of invulnerability. So it was only natural when Russia responded with overwhelming force against Georgia's foray into South Ossetia that Washington attempted to order Moscow about. Indeed, the U.S., still occupying Iraq and having recently detached Kosovo from Serbia, proceeded to lecture Russia on its responsibilities to respect state sovereignty and Georgia's territorial integrity, and not to invade other nations."
http://www.antiwar.com/bandow/?articleid=13336

4. Veteran journalist Eric Margolis opines on Condi's little Caucasian war (remember Neocon-ish Madeleine's little Balkan war? Condi as Madeleine wannabee):

"The Bush administration appears to have pulled off its latest military fiasco in the Caucasus. What was supposed to have been a swift and painless takeover of rebellious South Ossetia by America’s favorite new ally, Georgia, has turned into a disaster that left Georgia battered, Russia enraged, and NATO badly demoralized. Not bad for two days work. ...If not directly behind Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Washington had to have been at least fully aware of Saakashvili’s plans. The Georgian Army was trained and equipped by US and Israeli military advisors stationed with its troops down to battalion level. ..Who in Bush’s or Cheney’s office approved this stupid adventure? Why did the very smart Israelis get sucked into this imbroglio?

"...Amazingly, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a supposed Russian expert, even publicly assured Saakashvili that the US would "fight" for Georgia. Washington’s latest fiasco falls squarely into her lap.

" ..President George Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Sen. John McCain all resorted to table pounding and Cold War rhetoric against Russia. McCain, whose senior foreign policy advisor is a neoconservative and was a registered lobbyist for Georgia, demanded that the US and NATO "punish" Russia and put it into diplomatic isolation.
Unfortunately, the indignant John McCain’s could not even properly pronounce "Abkhazia."...


"America’s neocon amen chorus demanded a confrontation with Russia, chanting their usual mantras about Munich, appeasement and the myths of World War II....
The US’s most important foreign policy concern is keeping correct relations with Russia, which has thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at North America. Georgia is a petty sideshow. US missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic are a dangerous, unnecessary provocation that is sowing dragon’s teeth for future confrontation."
http://www.lewrockwell.com/margolis/margolis120.html


5. On this last point on US missiles in Poland, former Senator Sam Nunn has just pointed out that in his view the commitments of the US to Poland under the new defense treaty EXCEED our commitment under the Nato Treaty. I haven't read the fine print, but if this is true, this is an extraordinarily reckless move by the White House and the Senate should reject the treaty. [If it is in treaty form and placed before the Senate]. Was someone trying to lock us into a 1939 situation parallel to the British and French guarantees to Poland so as to automatically trigger a world war??? The Nato Treaty allows a measure of flexibility in policy.

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

You have probably already seen the article in the NYT headed 'U.S. Sees Much to Fear in a Hostile Russia.'

The opening paragraphs:

'The president of Syria spent two days this week in Russia with a shopping list of sophisticated weapons he wanted to buy. The visit may prove a worrisome preview of things to come.

'If Russia’s invasion of Georgia ushers in a sustained period of renewed animosity with the West, Washington fears that a newly emboldened but estranged Moscow could use its influence, money, energy resources, United Nations Security Council veto and, yes, its arms industry to undermine American interests around the world.

'Although Russia has long supplied arms to Syria, it has held back until now on providing the next generation of surface-to-surface missiles. But the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, made clear that he was hoping to capitalize on rising tensions between Moscow and the West when he rushed to the resort city of Sochi to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri A. Medvedev.'

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/world/europe/22policy.html?th&emc=th.)

Payback time for Israel perhaps, among other things?

Actually, the article puts things rather stupidly. The Russian economy, although it has been growing, is still a fraction of the size of the American, let alone the combined economies of NATO. What the Russians are clearly not going to do is repeat the catastrophic overinvestment in the military of Soviet times.

The least worst reconciliation of the competing demands of avoiding getting involved in a ruinous arms race and also avoiding been left hopelessly vulnerable to U.S. military power is a combination of reliance on nuclear deterrence and attempting to finance weapons development by exports.

Many of their natural export markets are countries which, like them, are trying to find counters to American (and/or Israeli) military power without bankrupting themselves.

So far, the Russians have been restrained -- as over the sale of the Iskander to Syria -- by concern not to antagonize the U.S. But if appeasing the U.S. gets them nowhere, why not be hung for a sheep as a lamb?

There is also an excellent article by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett entitled 'Wrong on Russia' on the National Interest Online site. It brings out well what I take to be two fundamental facts:

'Moscow continues to view partnership with America, and the West more generally, as their country’s best strategic option. But this partnership, from a Russian perspective, must entail give and take, not simply acquiescence to American dictates and unilateral U.S. initiatives.'

(See http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=19606.)

The Leveretts also bring out the fundamental fact that European energy dependence on Russia is increasing, and that the notion that there are simple ways of escaping this is patent nonsense.

For this among other reasons, there are deep doubts in much of 'old Europe' about American policy towards Russia. You could in the end be left with very friendly Poles, but Germans and French who have no confidence in you whatsoever. Meanwhile, you will have no non-military options against Iran -- and if you choose to exercise the military option, you (and we) may be left trying to fight a war in Afghanistan without supply routes.

Even in Britain, where in general we prefer replaying DVDs of old second world movies to thinking, there are some deep underlying anxieties emerging.

Cieran

David Habakkuk:

Excellent commentary, as always! Thanks so much for your thoughts here.

And about this:

The Leveretts also bring out the fundamental fact that European energy dependence on Russia is increasing, and that the notion that there are simple ways of escaping this is patent nonsense.

As autumn and winter arrive, those nonsensical beliefs have a way of disappearing when confronted with the importance of Russian supplies of oil and gas to the personal and economic desires of Europeans, e.g., staying warm or simply having a job.

Time, and the weather, are on the Russians' side, as others who entertained imperial ambitions have learned the hard way.

TomB

Yeah but, guys .... Okay Russia's got its oil card. But they can't *drink* the damned stuff. So the use of it as a weapon or card or whatever is real limited, isn't it? In fact using it to any big degree seems to me may very well hurt the Russians more than the Euros, and certainly so in the longer run.

The Russians wanna stop oil exports to Europe? Okay, Europe hurts some. Maybe more than just some, for awhile even. But what the hell does it do to the Russian economy? What would the Russian economy look like without its oil revenues? Can an entire economic system run on domestic vodka sales? And to boot it would just persuade the Euros to move ever more to other sources of oil, to defend the oil-rich former Soviet states all the more resolutely, to distrust the Russians more and more, to lessen the EU's will to do favors for Russia, and on and on and on.

Russia has shot itself in the foot big-time with Georgia. Got itself a nothingburger ("Ossetia forever!") in exchange for what? Raising if not confirming the historic huge fears of all its neighbors and Europe that it's still its old, dangerous, imperialistic self that's gotta be contained.

(Although, I hasten to add, that this don't mean we should be cheering, and in fact we may well ought to be trying to figure out how to ... invite the Russians somewhat out of the mess they've made for themselves without their losing face and getting even more knarly.)

Cheers,

P.S. And Clifford, how can missiles to Poland "exceed" our NATO obligation to Poland? The absolute central animating feature of NATO is its members' mutual defense clause obligations. I.e., that all will regard the attack on one member by another (non-member) as an attack on oneself. Thus I'm confused.

Cheers again,

Sidney O. Smith III

Great analysis from Joshua Landis. It’s consistent with the Habakkuk, Prof. K line of reasoning.

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=835

BTW, no one mentioned, best I can tell, that Russia has a rich historical connection to St. George as well.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Yes, indeed. Flynt is quite correct. Europe and the United States need to develop constructive relations with Russia. So just what is preventing this?

How was the Russian economy developed in the 19th century? Through European investment: British, French, Belgian etc. Down to the Bolshevik seizure of power, Russia had growing economic development precisely BECAUSE of its extensive COMMERCIAL and FINANCIAL relations with Europe and the United States.

Let's recall the excellent work of Count Witte, a truly great man. In my travel to Russia in the last decade, I have met many who recall Witte.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Witte

As I have pointed out in a different thread, the US had excellent relations with IMPERIAL Russia during the 18th and 19th century. We even bought Alaska from them. Yes, we had problems with the old Bolshevik masters of the Kremlin but since 1992 we are in the post-Soviet era.

We also need constructive relations with China. Which is to say we need the major powers -- US, EU, Russia, China, Japan -- to reach some arrangements. One can recall (whether we approve of disapprove) the Concert of Europe, as a mechanism of major powers for cooperation on matters of mutual interest. A "G-5" one might say. And this would mean dispensing with (or at least just ignoring) Bilderberg-ism, Cercle Pinay-ism, and Trilateral-ism which "permeate" certain elite circles around the globe.

Energy security is a core issue and cooperative arrangements can be made to everyone's benefit and profit. I would like to see US corporations and financial institutions involved in Russia, China, Iran and wherever else they can make a profit and enhance America's economic position in the world.

I will again emphasize, IMO the reason the United States and its foreign policy is in the situation we find today is owing to dangerous geopolitical fantasies which have permeated the foreign policy establishment both Republican and Democratic. Such neo-Mackinderish fantasies have been promoted in particular by Brzezinski and his circle as well as by the Neocons; and there is overlap...Wolfowitz having strongly endorsed Zbig's "Grand Chessboard" book.

Isn't the Neocon agenda, as we find it clearly expressed in Commentary Magazine and the Weekly Standard, for example, the following?

1) New Cold War with Russia in order to enhance Israel's role in the Middle East and internationally as a global strategic partner of the US.

2) Isolation of Iran in order to prevent Iran becoming a rival to Israel and a balance to its design for regional hegemony.

3) Gradual building toward a New Cold War with China and even a shooting war.

This is where the United States are presently headed, IMO. This is not going to change until the pro-Israel Lobby, which dominates US foreign policy, is either shut down or at least brought very firmly to heel.

Some convictions in the present AIPAC spy case would help as would requiring AIPAC to register as a foreign lobby.

And as you indicate, there are problems in the British polity leading to support of the Neocon neo-imperial agenda. Which is to say there is a British Neocon factor which loops back to the US and to the extremist Right in Israel.

Once elected, just what is the next President of the United States going to do with the pro-Israel Lobby is the fundamental question, IMO.

Eisenhower circa 1956? [For which see, David Neff, Warriors at Suez. Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981].

If the answer is nothing, I would expect shifts over time in the global balance of power to America's disadvantage.

Is it any wonder that Russia and China and others are clubbing together in the SCO? Is it any wonder that Japan and China are reaching certain understandings, including joint action on energy security?

Just how long are Europeans, Russians, Chinese, and Japanese going to go along with the American Cowboys, its Sheriff-in-Chief, and its Israeli posse?

Clifford Kiracofe

Here is a thoughtful piece by Helena Cobban:

..."The global architecture that's emerging will be very different from the cold war. That was a contest between two big powers with clashing visions of how the whole world should be organized, and it centered on a very costly – and risky – nuclear arms race. The emerging framework will probably be anchored by the three large powers and by four others (Europe, Japan, India, and Brazil). And in today's more globalized world, raw military power has become much less important; economic and "soft" power, more so.

Here's the good news: The interests of the world's leading powers are deeply entwined. China and Japan hold large amounts of US debt; Russia supplies much of Europe's energy needs; markets, investments, and production systems criss-cross national boundaries...."

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0822/p09s03-coop.html

Marcello

"And I don't see how in the world this does anything but hurt Russia terribly and constrict it ever more in its relations with its neighbors to the use of mere force or threats of force."

There is a lot of truth in what you say. But on the other hand the russians cannot just sit back, let down their allies (again) and watch passively the USA encircling them.
Public opinion in most of eastern Europe would remain intrinsecally hostile to Russia regardless of what the russians would or would not do. And the american policymakers would not accept anything but unconditional surrender.

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