This is the most lopsided game of chicken ever.
The Associated Press (All emphasis mine):
Russian forces pulled back Saturday from the center of a town not far from Georgia's capital after Russia's president signed a cease-fire deal, but his foreign minister later suggested there would be no immediate broader withdrawal.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said Russia would strengthen its peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia, the breakaway Georgian region at the center of more than a week of warfare that has sharply soured relations between Moscow and the West.
Lavrov signaled Russia's determination to set the rules for peace in an area where it has long viewed growing U.S. influence as an encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence. He said it is up to the South Ossetian people — and not Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — to determine which countries can send peacekeepers and which cannot.
I can just see Putin, stroking his fluffy white cat while sitting in the castle of Greyskull, manically laughing at the impotence of the Americans.
What do you see in his soul now, Bushie!
I don't know if the people of the United States and our government were aware that our handling of Russia post-Cold War really didn't endear us to the Russian people.
After "we won" the Cold War we promised the Russians aid and that we would help them make the transition into the post-Soviet Era. Instead we did pretty much nothing but obsess about security their nukes because after Perestroika the Russian economy crashed, inflation shot up and misery spread across the country. The Russian people were lost in the wilderness. First Gorbachev allowed numerous Russian satellite countries to emancipate themselves without a shot fired (something he now regrets). Then the Russians elected an out-of-control drunk, Boris Yeltsin who bungled his way through the country's economic reforms and flirtations with Democracy.
The Russians wondered when the US was going to follow through with that help, but the reality was, we'd won. That's all we cared about. Most Americans couldn't give two shits about what was happening in Russia. And when they learned the realities, that we were languishing about, getting fat off of Hot Pockets and Oreos with grocery stores flowing with abundance. When saw these paragons of gastronomical delights Yeltsin was mighty pissed.
After all, huge grocery stores with every food item you could want didn't exist in Russia at the time. The Russian hospitals were so deficient at the time he had to send his own mother to the west to receive medical treatment. Yeltsin once screamed at 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl that the US had destroyed his nation. For decades the Russian people were routinely told the Americans were suffering as much as they were during our 60 year stand-off. To learn that we hadn't suffered at all, but prospered greatly during the Cold War, was a slap in the face. Seeing how wealthy our country was demonstrated that the Russians could never match us in military spending.
Therefore, Russia has a huge chip on its shoulders. They used to be the biggest, baddest MFer on the block. They didn't like being the eunuchs. This is sort of like what's going on in China right now, although China has been the perennial loser since the Opium wars. Bullied by Japan and its once borderline psychotic obsession with conquering the Chinese people, made a cuckold of the west by the US and Great Britain, it sucked to be China. But now that they've got a little money in their pocket and a pep in their step they're ready to move up to the big leagues. Sure, they're still an authoritarian police state, but, hey, they got the Olympics.
And Russia really isn't a Democracy, with Putin getting his own special little job, Prime Minister, translated as "Evil genius figures out way to rule forever." It's also a "capitalist" police state, like China. Both decided to reject all that western "openness," freedom of the press garbage. Goodness no. To quote Gordon Gekko, "Greed is good." Money makes you stronger. You can build and buy more weaponry. But a police state keeps everyone in line. Money is a pacifier in the mouths of your middle class. It gives the poor a status to aspire to (even if it's impossible to obtain), it shuts people up. And we should know. We invented that here ... and without having a police state.
After Perestroika, the Russian people were begging for some stability and Putin gave that to them. Prosperity and stability. So what if it's still a police state? They've got Hot Pockets now, MFers!
Flush with cash from the vast natural resources, Russia is feeling a little randy. Last year they were testing fancy bombs and trying to punk others over that anti-missile defense system we keep trying to build in former Iron Curtain countries. Now Poland is the latest spot we've chosen for the system and the Russians are double-dog-daring the Poles to align themselves with us as the Russians feel this missile defense shield has nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with them.
Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, Putin's not taking any chances. He's only taking names.
Russia warned Poland on Friday that it is exposing itself to attack — even a nuclear one — by accepting a U.S. missile interceptor base on its soil, delivering Moscow's strongest language yet against the plan.
American and Polish officials stuck firmly by their deal, signed Thursday, for Poland to host a system that Washington says is meant to block missile attacks by rogue nations like Iran.
Moscow is convinced the base is aimed at Russia's missile force, however, and the deal comes as relations already are strained over the fighting between Russia and U.S.-allied Georgia over the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia.
"Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent," Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
He noted Russia's military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons "against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them." Nogovitsyn said that would include elements of any strategic deterrence system, according to Interfax.
And while Condi, George, et al, are heavy on the rhetorical bombast over Georgia, they are mired in two wars with no desire to fight a third one with our old enemy. While we still have the better toys and the stronger military (even in this weakened state), the Russians could inflict vastly more casualties, cause us far more grief and get the Doomsday Clock ticking once again.
We'd also need to have one of those ... what do you call it? A draft? Because, um ... we'd need one if we're going to take on the fourth largest standing army in the world (and still fight two wars). We actually have the second most troops (China has the most by far ... with its 1.3 billion people to pull from), but our military budget is unrivaled by anyone on planet earth. We're pulling down more than $583 trillion on our military. You have to count the entire European Union to get a distant, but substantial number two spot. NATO is bigger than us but only because we're in NATO with our wads o' cash.
The Russians are number seven in military expenditures, spending $45 trillion. That's nothing to sneeze at, but our number is more that most countries gross national product. But even with less money and less toys, the Russians can still match us old decaying nuke for old decaying nuke. Plus we've spent the past 60 years preparing to fight each other. You don't want to fight someone who already knows all your moves.
Plus, if the US did get involved, per usual, this would be a one country show. The European Union fears Russian aggression, but the western states are just as reluctant to act as they were when Hitler was devouring the former Czechoslovakia. This is one of those situations where everyone is going to sit on their hands until something truly messed up happens ... like attack Poland. The shit will officially hit the fan if that happens. We let Hitler take Poland. Then we let Russia take Poland. Poland, now free, loves its western allies and doesn't trust its former Russian overseers. They are a member of the EU and NATO. Being a member of NATO has its perks like ... if Russia attacks you other members of NATO are supposed to come to your defense.
Either way, former Russian satellites are shoring up their military and finding out who their true blue friends are if Russia starts to get all handsy with them.
"The divisions within Europe are more pronounced than those between two sides of the Atlantic,'' said Charles A. Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "There's a host of new democracies in Europe that continue to worry they will again fall prey to Russian expansion.''
Soviet Union's embrace and now members of the European Union, rallied behind Georgia yesterday.and the , all once held within the
"Russia's aggression against sovereign neighboring country Georgia shows to the whole world that the peaceful period after the end of the Cold War has ended,'' Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said. "Russia's actions increase security risks.''
Poland today won a U.S. pledge to help improve its defenses in exchange for basing interceptor missiles on its territory. Estonia's government yesterday said it will boost defense spending.
This all reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons where out of the blue, the once down and out Russians magically reappear with their massive troops, a reanimated Stalin and the Soviet flag waving. When asked, "I thought the Soviet Union collapsed?" a Ruskie replied "That's what we wanted you to think!"
Russia's here. They're spreading fear. Get used to it.
The US can't be the only one going around invading countries and overthrowing their leaders. Russia wants back in to the game. Strangely, in some sick way the Pentagon and our country might like its old nemesis back. Russia made to sense to us. We studied them. We obsessed over them. We built an economy and an arsenal set on defeating them. It also kept the other western countries in check, so afraid of Russian aggression that they kowtowed to us even when we sounded completely bonkers. Sort of like how former British Prime Minister Tony Blair followed Bush all the way to Iraq while everyone else scoffed. Blair was one of the last of the true believes in post-Cold War America. The US misses having that kind of power, respect and adoration as the Jedis to Putin's Darth.
Although, Dick Cheney is the designated dark lord of the sith, so maybe we're Sean Archer to Russia's Castor Troy.
We want our mojo back. So we should know how the Russians feel. After all, if it had been our economy that collapsed and they were the ones promising help, they would have laughed as we starved to death and we would have sat around plotting our revenge on the east. (Much like Sean and Castor in John Woo's excellent "Face/Off")
Quite frankly, we don't give a damn about each other in this game of "Last remaining superpower" versus "angry former superpower."
Just don't turn on the Doomsday Clock, please.