As I wrote last week, the Georgian-Russian conflict has led to a humanitarian tragedy in the region that demands a careful and calibrated response–not a reaction that heightens existing geopolitical tensions. But the latter is exactly what we have seen. The conflict has morphed into a justification for a renewed cold warby the mainstream media, John McCain and his neocon brethren, and itthreatens to add fuel to a new arms race. Yet crises also present opportunities, and we should seize this moment to rethink our approach to national security and US-Russian relations.
Since the end of the cold war, US policies toward Russia have donemore to jeopardize the security of the people of both nations–andthose living in nations of the former Soviet Union–rather than enhanceit. It’s time to pursue an alternative, more sane and effectivecourse. Instead of expanding NATO to Russia’s border, shredding armscontrol agreements, and generally hyper-militarizing relations betweenour two nations, we need leaders who have the moxie to lay out a justforeign policy for the region.
There are three key elements to such a foreign policy:
1) Ending NATO expansion eastwards and not building US or NATO military bases in Ukraine or Georgia
2) The US and Russia jointly guaranteeing the political sovereignty of Ukraine and Georgia
3) The US reviving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and abiding by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s provisions.
The above certainly doesn’t describe our current, reckless course.
Indeed, at the height of the Georgia-Russia crisis last week, the US andPoland signed a deal for Poland to host ten interceptor rockets for the unproven,inaneand destabilizingUS “missile defense shield.” The deal included a permanent US base in Poland and the promise “that the United States would be obliged todefend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO.”