Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kick Russia out of G-8? Bad Idea

Big Bad Russia. The New Russian Empire. The Crazy Bears. Sovietskis. The Cold War is Back.

All these things are currently being said about Russia in the continuing aftermath of the Georgian invasion and South Ossetian conflict. We've learned something about the character of today's Russia that we previously suspected but didn't have solid actions as proof for: Russia is being reborn and it is hungry. The Russian Bear is ready to tussle with anyone who gets in its way. Currently the Russians are keeping it local and safe, preying on breakaway provinces and nearby neighbors who aren't a part of NATO and aren't too close to China or the US.

So... how do we punish Russia? Senator Lieberman (I-CT) and Senator Graham (R-SC), both surrogates for Sen. McCain's Presidential bid, are advocating removing Russia from the G-8. Hmm.. seems reactionary and not very well thought out. This is the kind of politics that could have worked eighty or more years ago but nowadays you need to do like the mafia and keep your friends close and your enemies closer. We need to basically be sleeping with Russia (and China) so we can monitor them and be able to influence their actions more. I know that for you academics out there it sounds like I've taken a liberal (in the Kantian use of the word) position however my realism is still intact, worry not.

One of the many lessons taught to us by the successful foreign policies of the Reagan Administration was that engagement doesn't have to mean capitulation or even compromise. When Reagan and H.W. Bush met with Gorbachev it created a personal connection that kept a dialogue open and both sides were open with their criticisms of the other. Much the same must exist for the Russians and Chinese. In Russia's case it was a lack of effective dialogue and a distracted Administration that allowed the Georgian Crisis to come to a head without US intervention of any kind. In the end French President Sarkozy looks like a hero brokering the peace deal that exists. The US did not even send an serious diplomatic mission or a contigent of Senators until long after the deal was agreed to on both sides. Sad.

Kicking the Russia out of the G-8 is not just a terrible idea, it's also impossible. Try to get the other members to agree to expelling Russia, not going to happen. First off, let's face it - Russia is sitting on an oil well and they can pump it out faster than any other country in the world. They may not have enormous reserves but they sure do have the infrastructure to get it out of the ground and into a barrel quickly. No one wants to mess with an oil country right now... especially now. Second, everyone else in the G-8 is a part of NATO. Kicking Russia severs an important international forum for Russia and NATO to keep the dialogue running. Lastly, It is just waaaay to rash. It is as if the US is throwing a tantrum whenever things in the international area don't go it's way. Just because we can't control things like we used to doesn't mean we need to go out and lose our heads. Keep your cool and try to figure out how to get back on top or maybe just further up then anyone one else...

Smart Foreign Policy will lead to a Smarter and Strong America.


Lieberman: Kick Russia out of G-8 - Think Progress

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