Next steps with Russia

Is Russia ever in a good mood? World leaders everywhere sent the U.S. president-elect their congratulations, but all he got from Russia was just a bit of sabre-rattling: Medvedev’s announcement that Russia would put short-range missiles near the Polish border if U.S. ballistic missile defense construction goes ahead there. Even so-called left-wing blogs have been taken in by this, chiding Russia for getting its relationship with Obama off to such a bad start.

As usual, they’re missing the point. The Russians are signaling that they’re going to bring a hard line to the negotiating table; they are, however, signaling that they are quite willing to negotiate.  And the overall terms of a modus vivendi are reasonably clear at this point.  We trade off missile defense and agree to give Russia substantial leeway within the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic States.  In return for this we get guarantees they won’t fuck with Eastern Europe/members of NATO, and we get their cooperation with Iran.

Some will call this appeasement.  I call it common sense.  Because (and this is the bit that the hardliners just can’t get through their heads)  . . . we’re fucking BROKE.  We don’t have the MONEY to get involved in a giant smackdown with Russia.  We used it all up on Iraq, which the same folks who wanted WWIII with Russia over Georgia were so excited about at the time (some people never saw a war they didn’t like).  Now we’re in the worst economic crisis in decades, and it’s about time we started cutting some deals.  And Russia’s a great place to start.

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