These are the results of our first poll (running from January 11 to March 19).
I am pleased to see that the number of people thinking it’s brilliant decisively outnumber those who think it should be deleted. (So I’ll remain on the blogosphere.) Otherwise, don’t bother with digressions, aesthetics or more features, but concentrate more on regular news and editorials. Well, I’ll try. I’m not really the kind of person who loves pumping out stuff at constant intervals, but I’ll have a go at making updates more frequent (and posts smaller). As for Core Articles – well, we have a juicy one coming up tomorrow – Top 10 Russophobe Myths, as well as a finished News 19 March.
The next poll asks the question Which President would be best for US-Russia relations? (Feel free to interpret best as least worst).
Osama Hussein sounds reasonable.
Sen. Obama (D-IL) has said Russia is “neither our enemy nor close ally,” and said the United States “shouldn’t shy away from pushing for more democracy, transparency, and accountability” there. He has focused much of his discussion of Russia on diminishing the possibility of nuclear weapons use. In a July 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Obama said the United States and Russia should collaborate to “update and scale back our dangerously outdated Cold War nuclear postures and de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons.” In an October 2007 speech in Chicago, Obama said if elected he would work to “take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material.” He said he would seek a “global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons” and an expansion of “the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles.”
In 2005, Obama traveled with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) to nuclear and biological weapons destruction sites in Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. Obama and Lugar then introduced legislation to eliminate nuclear stockpiles throughout the former Soviet Union. That law was enacted in 2007.
Reasonable, dry and technical. A few meaningless platitudes about transparency and stuff. Excellent you say, crossing your fingers and smiling like an old billionaire creep? Not so fast…the eXile fears his Cabinet.
So, who are Obama’s advisors? This is where it gets a little scary. Obama has surrounded himself with a combination of the cream of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy team, a few gold-medal liberal hawk fanatics, and, worst of all, the obsessively Russophobic Zbigniew Brzezinski plus Zbig’s power-lawyer son, Mark.
Brzezniski pere is a Polish refugee who like so many East European immigrants brought his Old World bigotries to the New World as a guiding principle. That bigotry is a hatred of Russia and a desire to see it destroyed, no matter what the consequences. Indeed Brzezinski recently revealed his Dr. Evil plot from the late 1970s: as Carter’s National Security Advisor, he had personally overseen an operation to incite the Soviet-Afghanistan war, to draw Russia into invading in order to bleed his nemesis dry. Considering that the policy eventually led to the Taliban and 9/11, it’s a rather odd bragging right to claim. Unless you don’t give a shit about biting your host America’s nose off to spite your old enemy Russia’s face….in the 1990s, he led the charge for rapid NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, stood for pulling Ukraine into NATO as a way of weakening Russia, and pushed for control of Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea oil even at the cost of ignoring Azerbaijan’s anti-democratic regime. (Meanwhile Brzezinski worked for a consortium that allowed him to personally profited from Azeri oil). Most sinister of all, Brzezinski is a charter member of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, a creepy NGO featuring an A-List of Islam-bashing neocons like Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney and James Woolsey, who found a ray of Islamic pity in their Clash of Civilization hearts for just one Muslim people–the Chechens, who just happened, by coincidence, to conveniently be at war with Russia.
This leads to Brzezinski’s greatest livelong obsession: the idea (and the policy) of breaking up the Soviet Union along ethnic lines, an obsession going back to his college Master’s Thesis. It was an idea first trumpeted by Poland’s fascist intra-war dictator Jozef Pilsudski, and it fulfills every Polish nationalist’s dream of seeing Russia’s permanently confined to a wheelchair.
Brzezinski’s agenda should jibe perfectly with another all-star on Obama’s foreign policy team, Samantha Power, who is cut from the same liberal hawk cloth as all the Michael Ignatieffs, David Rieffs and Thomas Friedmans, not to mention the Anthony Lakes and other Clinton A-listers on Obama’s staff.
Furthermore, when he has taken on Michael “Myth of the Academic Model” McFaul as his Russia advisor; when Kim Zigfeld, the eponymous La Russophobe, thinks he has seen the Light; when Khodorkovsky henchman Robert Amsterdam claims:
It is interesting however to imagine how it could be possible to reconcile support of Barack Obama and support for Vladimir Putin. Such an inherent contradiction must rob one of sleep.
One does get a new appreciation for Bush’s diplomatic finesse when dealing with Russia. Are those years really going to become the Golden Age of US-Russian relations? With Obama, all bets are off.
So what about the Hildebeast, then?
Sen. Clinton (D-NY), like most of her fellow Democrats, favors diplomacy toward Russia with the goal of promoting democracy there and reducing nuclear stockpiles. In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Clinton pledged to “negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.”
She also called for engagement with Russia on “issues of high national importance,” including Iran, loose nuclear weapons, and the status of the Serbian province of Kosovo. She said Washington’s “ability to view Russia as a genuine partner depends on whether Russia chooses to strengthen democracy or return to authoritarianism and regional interference.”
Still, she told the Boston Globe in October 2007, “I’m interested in what Russia does outside its borders first. I don’t think I can, as the president of the United States, wave my hand and tell the Russian people they should have a different government.”
Awfully kind of her, deigning to allow Russians to choose their own government. But doesn’t sound too bad overall.
But then again, she is someone who can go on and on in detail about the failures of Russian democracy, yet manages to garble the name of one of the most important leader’s she’ll be working with for the next four years (if she gets elected), essentially calling him a woman. Most analysts are far from worked up by the prospect of President Hillary and Russia. And that’s on top of lame rip-offs from the McCainiac.
Well, at least Putin put her in her place. And talking of places, is the Presidency the right place for her? Unfortunately, yes. At least the other two have already made their Russophobia explicitly clear. There’s hope yet that she’ll be more reasonable once the pandering to the Russophobes (who make up 46% of the US population) bit is done.
Could it even be McCain? Granted,
Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has strongly criticized Putin, whom he has called “a dangerous person.” In an October 2007 Republican debate, McCain expressed support for President Bush’s plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. “I don’t care what [Putin’s] objections are to it,” he said.
In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, McCain called for a new approach to what he called a “revanchist” Russia. In that piece, he advocated Russian exclusion from the G-8, and said the West should send a message to Russia that NATO “is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.” He also said the United States should promote democracy in Russia.
However, the folks over at the eXile have another perspective on The McCainiac.
But presidents don’t make policy alone, and to the extent that we know who’s advising McCain on foreign affairs, the picture is less clear. McCain takes advice from his neocon friend William Kristol, but also his close friend Henry Kissinger, the corpulent doyen of realpolitik, who is the honorary co-chairman for McCain’s presidential campaign in New York.
A recent New York Times profile of McCain mentioned other “realist” advisors unlikely to push him into confrontation with Moscow unless serious red lines are crossed, such as Richard Armitage, Colin Powell, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Brent Scrowcroft. Other names that have popped up in recent months include ex-drug war czar Barry McCaffrey and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Ferguson, who has no problem with empires so long as they are Anglo-American, has predicted that Russia will attempt to reconstitute a capitalist, Christian version of the “evil empire.”
Another issue muddying up McCain’s Russophobic credibility was revealed in a recent Washington Post article exposing McCain’s friendly links to (and vacation getaways with) Kremlin oligarch Oleg Deripaska. More importantly, the piece revealed cozy ties between McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis and the Russian power elite more generally, from Deripaska to pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovich, who battled against the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004.
But then again, this is a guy who sees the letters “K-G-B” in Putin’s eyes. Considering that that only happens to me when I’m real drunk, I’d be real careful about electing him to office.
In conclusion, these are the best US Presidents for US-Russian relations.
This poll will run until the Democrats and Republicans confirm their party nominations.