Cold War II
By Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar
Bacon once said that "he that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that
gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good
admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the
US-Russia relationship since the collapse of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
in 1991 is one of first building friendship with one hand then destroying it
with the other. A close examination of available documents and US actions since
the fall of USSR reveals how President Clinton and later President Bush, each in
his own way, turned a major friendly power into almost an enemy.
historically been a major power in Europe. It
has a population of 142 million. It is the largest country in the world by land
mass. With an area of 17 million square kilometres, it is almost twice the size
of the next-largest country, Canada. Russia has
advance military technologies, enabling it to produce some of the most effective
military products in the world. It is the world's largest oil producer and it is
close to the world's largest oil reserves in the Middle
East. It borders Japan, China, Middle East (through Caspian Sea) and EU.
Clinton and the Bad
fall of the USSR,
Russia went through a chaotic period.
Its industries, economy and defence forces had to be restructured. Russians saw
US as a friend; a country that they could form a lasting partnership with.
Kremlin doors were opened wide to Washington. Russians, eager to improve their
economy, were eager to embrace new ideas. Who better to show them the way than
the leader of the "capitalist world". So when the United States
offered advice they accepted it wholeheartedly. But as history shows those
advices almost ruined the Russian Federation and caused immense
hardship to the Russian people.
the extent of the American contribution to the Russian economic decline became
clear. A report commissioned by the United States House of Representatives and
produced by the leaders of six committees of the House, produced a comprehensive
picture of Clinton Administration's involvement in creating a system of
corruption and oligarchy in Russia. The report listed a number of "mistakes" by
the Clinton administration in its dealing with
Russia. Some of those "wrong policies" are
preference for strengthening Russia's central government, rather
than deconstructing the Soviet state and building from scratch a system of free
personal association with a few Russian officials, even after they became
corrupt, instead of a consistent and principled approach to policy that
focus on the Russian executive branch to the near exclusion of the Russian
legislature, regional governments, and private
arrogance toward Russia's nascent democratic
constituencies that led to attempts at democratic ends through decidedly
unwillingness to let facts guide policy, or even to make mid-course corrections
in light of increasing corruption and mounting evidence of the failure of their
focusing on strengthening the finances of the Russian government and on
transforming state-owned monopolies into private monopolies, instead of building
the fundamentals of a free enterprise system, the Clinton administration ensured that billions in Western
economic assistance to Russia would amount to mere
temporizing. The Gore-Talbott-Summers focus--on macro-management of the Russian
economy instead of the legal fundamentals that would permit individuals to start
businesses, grow a competitive market economy, and create a tax base--doomed
their "privatization" efforts to failure.
using massive lending and aid to plug the gap in the Russian central
government's operating budget, the Clinton administration exposed these funds to
theft and fraud" [].
by the end of Yeltsin administration situation had become so critical that
nothing short of a major restructuring of the system could stabilise the
situation. Putin was the right man for the job. He started by restricting the
activities of the oligarchs and stopped the corrupt and uncontrolled
"privatisation". But the damage that was done under Yeltsin was enormous and
will take many decades to repair.
By the end
of the Yeltsin presidency, the Russian people had lost all faith in the
capitalist system. The ordinary people often equated privatisation with theft.
As ordinary hard working Russians struggled to keep themselves warm in the harsh
winters, the rich spent astronomical amounts on luxury yachts and villas abroad.
encouraging uncontrolled privatisation, wholesale auctioning of important
government assets to a few corrupt friends, excessive borrowing, opening local
markets to imports, etc, Clinton Administration was destroying the Russian
economy. All considered, the Clinton era
"intervention" in Russia can
be called disastrous for Russia. How much of these "mistakes"
were by design and how much it honest mistakes, we don't know. But one thing is
sure; the Russians have learned a very good lesson.
The Road to
Cold War II
history of the Neocons is well known. Neocons are a group of people bent on
making the US the sole hegemon of the world.
Barely a year after the collapse of the USSR, this group published its plan
on how the sole superpower should act. The Defence Policy Guidance, crafted by
the then-Defence Department staffers I. Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz at the
behest of Defence Secretary Dick Cheney set the agenda for the new world order.
objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. This is a dominant
consideration underlying the new regional defence strategy and requires that we
endeavour to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources
would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These
regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet
Union, and Southwest Asia. There are three
additional aspects to this objective: First the U.S must show the leadership
necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of
convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or
pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. Second,
in the non-defence areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the
advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership
or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we
must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even
aspiring to a larger regional or global role."[]
election of George W. Bush gave these people real power but not the opportunity
to implement their plans. The 9/11 attack on the US provided the
perfect opportunity and excuse. Soon after, they set about trying to deal with
the perceived future challenges to the US power.
those countries that have historically managed to challenge others for supremacy
in its region is Russia. This made Russia a natural
target for Neocons. It didn't matter if Russia was friendly or not.
Russia had the capacity and desire to
become a global power again. If not now, then perhaps later it
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin took over the Russian Presidency in December 1999,
Russian economy was on the verge of collapse. The oligarchs were in control of
many important sectors of the economy and were trying to extend their control
even further. Those in Yeltsin's administration had hoped that by helping Putin
they could control him. But Putin, a former KGB officer and the first civilian
head of SFB (former KGB) had many other friends, such as the Siloviks
(nationalists from military and various powerful ministries who define
themselves as defenders of Russian national interest). Siloviks provided Putin with a
counter-balance to the oligarchs. With their backing, Putin began to reassert
the central government's control over the country.
began his struggle to stabilise the country, the US began
expanding NATO. In March 1999, Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland joined
NATO. NATO was created in 1949 as (unofficially) a defence alliance against
USSR and was limited geographically
to the Euro-Atlantic regions of the Northern hemisphere. By late 1990s, with
that threat gone, the talk across the Europe
was about the slow death of NATO. Since Russia did not threaten to invade any of these
countries, there was no reason for expanding NATO into Eastern Europe, so we thought. Russia under
Yeltsin was in the process of extreme decline and on the verge of
of course saw this expansion as a threat but since they were hardly in a
position to stop it, reluctantly accepted it. Then came the 9/11 and the war on
terror. After 9/11, United
States began to establish a number of "temporary" bases in
Russia's "backyard" in the
Caucasus. US placed troops in
Georgia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Once
the invasion of Afghanistan
was over, US began the preparation for the invasion of Iraq, a Russian
ally. By this time the Russians were worried that US not only was going to turn
their temporary bases into permanent ones but also trying to become a hegemon in
the region as well. They tried their utmost to stop the invasion of
Iraq but failed to stop the
US from achieving its
In 2004 7
more countries: Bulgaria,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined
NATO. NATO was now at the borders of the Russian
Federation. As the new members were being
welcomed into NATO, other countries were being "encouraged" to apply. This
encouragement usually takes the form of encouraging civil unrest and if possible
revolution in the target country, with the aim of installing a pro-American
leadership. According to Guardian these colour revolutions are directly
supported by the Western governments [].
Georgia was thus
encouraged and got its revolution. Then Ukraine which houses the Russian Black Sea fleet
at Crimea was encouraged. The same
encouragement is being given to various countries bordering Russia. There
are talks of Georgia and even
Azerbaijan joining NATO. All this
expansion has required Russia to reassess its relationship
with the West in general and NATO in particular.
with Russia has started to strengthen its
army by increasing its defence budget. For example in 2005 Russia's defence
budget increased by 27,6% and again this year by 22% (taking inflation into
account, these numbers will be lower). The share of the Russian defence budget
that goes to purchase of new equipment this year is around - 70% (164 billion
Rubles), up from 60% in 2005 [].
Russia is modernising its armed
forces in a hurry. In 2004 only 14.2% of its defence budget went for procurement
of equipment. In 2006 that share went up to 70%. New and better equipment, along
with a smaller and more professional army is going to give Russia better
ability to protect its interest in the region and
international arena, Russia
has tried to strengthen its position by joining forces with China through the Shanghai five. This grouping was created in
1996 to address the "deepening military trust at the border regions" and
China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In
2001 the group admitted Uzbekistan as the new member and then signed the
Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).In the same year
China signed the Treaty of
Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. In 2002 the official charter of
SCO was signed by all members. In 2004 Mongolia was admitted as an observer and in 2005
Iran, India and Pakistan
received their observer status.
evolving from a regional economic and security cooperation to something else. If
the observer states were to actually join the SCO, it could become one of the
most powerful organisations in the world. Russia and Iran combined
would have more energy reserve and production capacity than any other nations on
Earth. Population wise, the organisation would represent the over 2 billion
people. Economically they would have the energy resources of Russia, Iran and caucuses plus the manufacturing might of
the Chinese and burgeoning service industries of India. With the
Russian space/military industrial complex behind them they would become a
formidable world power.
this US has tried to bring
India into its camp. The
US, despite all its declared
goal of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, welcomed India into the
nuclear club. US even offered to help India with its "civilian" nuclear
technology. But Indians have taken a wait and see attitude. They are very
concerned with their future energy supplies, and being close to both
China, don't want to side with a
group unless they are absolutely sure that that group will win. Another problem
is the Indian internal politics. Will the majority of Indians accept the
US lead in international affairs?
the US House International Relations Committee (HIRC) added a markup (i.e.,
amendment) to the Bush administration's proposal - HR 4794, which is supposed to
allow India to receive
US nuclear technology. This amendment
requires India's "full and active participation in United States efforts to
dissuade, isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts
to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability
(including the capability to enrich or process nuclear materials), and the means
to deliver weapons of mass destruction. []"
This is the beginning of US
pressure on India to follow
US foreign policy. How much is
India willing to oblige is something
that only Indian parliament can answer. Eventually India
has three choices: stay neutral, join SCO, or join the American
war II started in 1999 by expansion of NATO into the Eastern Europe. The George Bush's actions since then have
pushed Russia and
China together. America's invasion of
Iraq, placing of troops in Caucasus, expansion of NATO into the Baltic area and
now the Iranian crises have convinced both China and Russia that America's grand
strategy is to contain both nations and ultimately (if possible) to create
another colour revolution in their countries as well.
reached the Baltic border of Russia is trying to reach its central border
through Ukraine. Ukraine is and
will be the main focus of attention for some time to come. The
Russia's only warm water
naval base is in Crimea (Ukraine). Losing that base will deal
a heavy blow to the Russian navy's ability to operate in the region.
area of contention is the Caucasus. US having
successfully brought Georgia into its camp is focusing on
other small nations in the region. Control of oil in this region and the
pipelines going through it, is of vital importance to the US.
Azerbaijan, having substantial
reserves of oil, are going to be the battle grounds for the opposing sides.
Kazakhstan is particularly
important since it borders both China and Russia and is
the main launching pad for nearly all of the Russian space
Iran is yet
another major concern. An unfriendly Iran can assist the Americans in
creating tremendous problems for the Russians in their southern republics.
Iran is the key to the
Persian Gulf and can act as a buffer against the American advance from
Iraq and Afghanistan
towards the Russian southern borders. Iran and Russia combined sit on 42% of the
world's natural gas reserves. Together they can create a very powerful energy
cartel. It is doubtful then, to assume that Russia will in future go along with US plans for
a regime change in Iran.
happen in the future is determined by the new American President, and not
President Bush. The current administration has turned a friendly
Russia into a strategic threat. The
Neocons by looking hard for perceived threats have created an environment in
which many nations, Russia included, do not feel safe.
The continued American advance into the Russian backyard and its attempt in
reducing Russian power has triggered a resurgence of nationalism in
Russia. Russia will
strive to strengthen its military. By all likelihood, Russia and China will create the world second centre of
power opposing US hegemony. If Iran and a few
other nations join in, we will see a powerful alliance in the East that will not
be so easy to contain.
Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway.
He is a consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He's a
former associate professor of Nordland
University, Norway. Bakhtiarspacefirstname.lastname@example.org
Abbas Bakhtiar, all rights
 New York Times, "Excerpts From Pentagon's Plan:
'Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival' ", March 8, 1992, Sunday, Late Edition
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