Spiegel Online International‘s Matthias Schepp provides an interesting view of US-Russian relations, via his quasi-interview with the Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin. The nominal topic was the US missile defense shield that President Obama keeps chattering about installing in New Europe against rogue states like Iran. But there’s far more in the subtext.
Ambassador Rogozin asks the question, “If space aliens were to completely disarm Iran, would Washington continue with its plans to build a missile defense system in Poland?” Of course, this is a cynically disingenuous question: given the Russian obstruction to any sort of effort to prevent the Iranians from getting nuclear weapons—which obstruction they have claimed to be based purely on Russian economic self-interest—they’d only attempt to interfere with their space aliens, also.
Instead, Russia demands that we not install a missile defense capability; it demands a written guarantee that our overall military capability will not increase to the point that Russia won’t have a chance against us, even with nuclear weapons; and it demands that our missiles be unable to reach Russian territory.
Rogozin objects in all seriousness that, “For America, it is all about making itself impregnable.”
Here’s the backdrop to the present Russian demands. President Bush the Elder was at pains to avoid anything that might embarrass surviving Russia in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union; he took great care for Russian sensibilities, including delaying contacts with, and aid to, the ‘Stans that had just been freed from Soviet Union dominance. We supported Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. We extended economic aid, and economic policy advice and assistance—at its request—to Russia. The Obama administration has appeased Russia concerning their domestic human rights abuses. The Obama administration even has accepted Russia’s Anschluss-like occupation and partition of Georgia.
But it’s unacceptable to the Russians that we should want to ensure our survival in a hostile world. In essence, the Russians want to continue to be assured that they can destroy us at will.
In support of their demands, the Russians have threatened Poland with nuclear immolation if that ally goes ahead with a proposed deployment of an arm of our missile defense shield, they threaten to target our missile defense capability with nuclear weapons, they threaten Europe with nuclear targeting, and they threaten to withdraw from the just-negotiated START treaty.
Russia both actively supports Iranian nuclear weapons development and actively obstructs our efforts to derail that development.
Russia even threatens a new arms race if we persist in being rude enough to wish to protect ourselves. This, though, contradicts that claimed Russian economic self-interest—it’s a race we can win as decisively on economic, technological, and military grounds as we won the last, which economic competition destroyed the Soviet Union. The Russians know this.
No, the motive behind their support for Iranian nuclear arming and their insistence that we take no measures to protect ourselves and our allies is nothing more than their continued, naked enmity toward us.
Censeo Carthagem esse delendam, was Scipio the Elder’s constant refrain. The Russians actively support a nuclear-weaponed Iran. The Russians actively demand that we be unable to defend ourselves against missile attack or to respond to one.