Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Constructive View On Russia Required From The Candidates

The remaining presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain will need to offer some sort of constructive foreign policy to deal with the new Russian government of President Dmitry Medvedev at some point. Medvedev has never held elective office before, and is the hand picked political successor to President Putin who will become the nation's Prime Minister. It is unclear how much power Medvedev will really have or whether he is simply a political puppet of Vladimir Putin, but regardless Russia is an energy and military superpower and a rising world economic force due the strong oil based economy and economic recovery under Putin. And while Russia has the most billionaires of any nation in the world, and is involved in heavy investment abroad, including in the U.S., Russia remains a military rival of the U.S. with a more active space program and other technological progress than the U.S.

Medvedev is a young and attractive public relations image for the Russian presidency. He is an avid fan of Western hard rock bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin on one hand, while being a shrewd, but pragmatic tough bureaucrat able to effectively manage complex affairs. An Obama presidency could go a long way towards promotion of world safety by drawing down the new "Cold War" tensions with Russia and the type of dangerous arms that both nations continue to develop to threaten one another with. Russia developed a hypersonic super speed cruise missle under Putin that can evade American antimissile defenses with it's extreme speed. And both countries continue to work on space weapons development while officially maintaining a cooperative joint-nation space program and international space station. Russia is currently able to manage more space launches each year than the American NASA is able to manage. In fact, even the emerging Chinese space program may be able to manage a manned Moon landing before the U.S. can manage a return effort program due to funding limitations. China may even beat the U.S. with a manned landing on Mars as well. The U.S. may still have the strongest and most technological military in a great many areas, however in the critical and highly controversial new area of militarizing space, both Russia and China are making great efforts. Officially the Rusian government denies any space weapons programs, although U.S. experts point to anti-satellite weapons designed to kill military, spy and communications satellites. How far the leading nations of the world such as the United States, Russia and China go into this dangerous new area of space weapons development will be a big challenge for the next president. On one hand, the United States cannot be left vulnerable to a possible new military threat, but on the other hand some drawing down of the new "Cold War" type tensions to reduce the possibility of a future war are absolutely vital.

In a great many areas, both Russia and the United States will continue to remain at some odds with one another. And under Putin, the serious rollback of press freedoms and real democratic reforms will likely remain a serious concern for any new American government. How to constructively challenge this assault on basic freedoms in Russia, while preventing the expansion of the new "Cold War" into space, placement of antimissiles in Europe, bringing former Warsaw Pact states into NATO, frictions over possible Kosovo independence and other issues will all be areas in which a constructive foreign policy with Russia will be required. At some point during the campaign, both candidates Obama and McCain will face questions about where their White House would stand on some of these issues. Whether the "Cold Peace" with Russia thaws somewhat is certainly dependent on some movement back towards civil liberties in Russia as well as reduced military tensions between the two leading world military superpowers as well.


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