UPDATE: In their first face-to-face meeting, Presidents Obama and Medvedev agreed they were “ready to move beyond Cold War mentalities,” and launch a “fresh start” in what has been an increasingly strained relationship.There was agreement to cooperate on stabilizing Afghanistan and reiningin Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But the most substantive part of themeeting is the decision to develop a new arms control framework toreplace the one dismantled by Bush and his team (who consideredvirtually any treaty a subversive document). Obama and Medvedev agreedto launch negotiations to draft a new arms control treaty that couldslash US-Russian strategic nuclear arsenals by a third. (What’s reallyneeded is for both sides to abide by the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty that mandates building down to a nuclear-free world!)
While the tone, the words and the possibilities of the young Presidents’ firstmeeting gives me cautious optimism about the resetting of this difficultrelationship, I still believe some fundamental differences and difficultissues lie ahead. As I wrote last month, the folly of a destabilizingmissile defense system and NATO expansion, perhaps now, wisely, put on abackburner in light of the metastasizing geoeconomic crisis, are twofundamental issues which must be confronted if we’re going to see a realreset of relations. (By the way, for those who seek a better translationof “reset” than the one provided by our State Department, try”perezagruska.”
Meanwhile, I’m still befuddled by the big red box witha yellow push button, with “reset” stamped on it, which Secretary ofState Clinton presented Russia’s Foreign Minister as a sign of betterrelations. In Moscow, which I visited in mid-March, those who rememberedStanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove thought the box was a prop from thaticonic film. That film, by the way, should be shown in every High Schoolin America and Russia.
For the sake of a safer world, the US needs to rethink its policies toward Russia — beginning with the folly of a destabilizing missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.