Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lets Talk to the Bear

One of America's smartest ex-New York mayors, Ed Koch, is playing one of El Jefe's favorite songs today, talking up the benefits of a US-Russian alliance. I have been in favor of this since German re-unification, when it became apparent that our sometime continental allies in NATO no longer had any reason to cooperate with us, and that the EU might really amount to something.
Yes, yes, President Putin has been bad-mouthing the United States, and no doubt he has his reasons. We have done precious little to give Mr. Putin reasons not to snipe: interferring in elections in former parts of the Soviet Union (Ukraine in 2004, for example), tweaking his nose over the absence of democracy in Russia (as if that was ever a possibility), and trying to lock Russia out of Middle-East diplomacy.
Now mind you, I'm not at all a peacenik-lefty. I am not saying that the United States does not need to do any or all of these things -- such steps may well be indicated or necessary for our own state interests -- as Putin's disgruntlement may be for Russian state interests. But there is no harm in quietly exploring the possibility of change, of mutually beneficial arrangements with Russia on certain matters, and I think this should be done.
Although Mayor Koch notes that our NATO allies "shirked" when we needed them to stand with us in Iraq, he is too nice to point out that one of the main reasons for favoring closer ties with Russia is to keep France and Germany honest. Russia has as much or more reason to be concerned over a stronger Europe and an assertive China as we do, and they have similar problems with resurgent Islam. We are fools not to look into improving relations with Russia.

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