Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Very dangerous"

BBC - Putin attacks 'very dangerous' US
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticised the United States for what he said was its "almost uncontained" use of force around the world.

Washington's "very dangerous" approach to global relations was fuelling a nuclear arms race, he told a security summit in Munich.

Correspondents say the strident speech may signal a more assertive Russia.
First of all, I don't think Putin has ever been happy with Russia's diminished position in global politics since the end of the Cold War. The idea that he would like to use the current state of global public opinion about the US to his advantage should come as no surprise. It seems to me like a case of running the idea up the flagpole to see who will salute.

The article goes on to say:
And Republican Senator John McCain added: "Moscow must understand that it cannot enjoy a genuine partnership with the West so long as its actions at home and abroad conflict fundamentally with the core values of the Euro-Atlantic democracies. In today's multi-polar world there is no place for needless confrontation."
This whole quote is bothersome to me. First of all, just the idea that we are trying to force "the values of Euro-Atlantic democracies" on the rest of the world is part of our problem. I know that ideally it would be nice if everyone else held those values, but it really is not our place to force them on others, unless we are advocating an end to the sovereign state system as we know it. Second, to call our current international system "multi-polar" is something of a misnomer. I'm aware that some people view it that way, and it is to some degree true economically. However, in terms of military might we are quite close to unipolarity in the international system with the US as the single pole.

If one thinks about the poles in the international system as legs on a chair, the US, although not the only leg on the chair, is certainly the longest leg, which makes the chair very unstable. If one takes a realist view of the international system, Putin is certainly correct. Other powers will try to build their strength in an effort to balance against the strength of the US. And whether one is inclined to balance power or threat, the US has, in recent years, shown itself to be both a power and a threat. And Iranian and N. Korean desires to possess nuclear weapons can arguably be related to that threat.

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