Ah, peace. Why can’t we all be friends?

But one wonders who is advising President elect Obama when we read things like this:

President-elect Barack Obama called for a reappraisal of frosty US-Russia relations, while chiding Moscow for “bullying” Georgia and other neighboring nations.

Bullying? Bullying?

He invaded the dang place, he didn’t “bully” it.

But he stressed that after he succeeds President George W. Bush on January 20: “I think that it’s going to be important for us to reset US-Russia relations.”

Helped by robust economic growth, energy-rich Russia has become “increasingly assertive,” Obama noted.

“And when it comes to Georgia and their threats against their neighboring countries, I think they’ve been acting in ways that are contrary to international norms.

Problem number one: Actually, Bush and Putin (who is the real power in Russia) have good relations. It’s just that Russia is returning to it’s tsarist roots (Orthodoxy, xenophobia, and extending it’s power and influence and maybe even extending it’s territory into nearby countries).

But Putin is interpreting Obama’s position as essentially throwing Eastern Europe “under the bus” in order to placate an “angry” Russia.

Putin said Thursday that Russia had received “positive signals” from Obama that could open the door to dramatic improvement of Russia-US relations, especially over NATO enlargement and US missile defense plans.

Obama has promised to review the effectiveness of the Bush administration’s planned missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Right now, Russia is upset (paranoid?) about NATO and the European Union’s influence on it’s former satellites. But Russia also opposes oppose the placement of anti missiles in some of these countries because the defensive missiles could shoot down their obselete nuclear missiles; the fact that the anti missile system is aimed at stopping Iranian missiles is being ignored.

Europe, who is dependent on Russian oil and natural gas, is eager to give in to Russia’s demands.

But why should the US do so? Is it in US interest to have a belligerent Russia tell the US they aren’t allowed to protect London and Paris from Iranian missiles?

Underneath all of this are several ways that Russia is trying to quietly undermine the US, from selling weapons and nuclear plants to Iran, to the low grade “cyberwar” against American industry and government computers.

Also behind a lot of the heated rhetoric by Putin et al is the dirty little secret that oil prices have fallen, and that with the recession there is a lower demand for oil. This has messed up their economy, and what better way to distract people from a bad economy then to push other countries around or to find an enemy to distract people?

On the other hand, the selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State does not bode well for Russian relations. One reason for Russia’s invasion of Georgia was pay back for Clinton’s backing of Muslim Kosovo and Clinton’s bombing of Orthodox Serbia.

Russia’s wars against the Ottoman Empire’s expansion into the Orthodox Balkans has a longer and more emotional history than it’s love/hate relationship with western European ideas.

Another dirty little secret is Russia’s view of Africans as inferior (as any African student who studied there could inform you). My worry is that Obama’s first test, in reminding Russia that their aggression won’t work, may have been undermined by his statements on Meet the Press, which Putin has interpreted as giving in to Russian interests:

“We hear that one should build relations with Russia, taking into account its interests,” Putin said. “If these are not just words, if they get transformed into a practical policy, then of course our reaction will be appropriate and our American partners will feel this at once.”

Yes, all you have to do is change American policies that defend the interests of Poland, the Czech republic, and Georgia. You then have to remove the missiles defending Paris and London, and probably dissolve NATO’s promise to stop Soviet aggression against Eastern Europe, and voila, you will have peace in our time.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Makaipablog.

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