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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Russia's return to great power status « Previous | |Next »
September 21, 2008

George Friedman in an op-ed in the New York Review of Books makes some interesting observations of Russia, Georgia and the US. He argues that Putin did not want to reestablish the Soviet Union, but he did want to re- establish the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet region.

To accomplish that, he had to reestablish the credibility of the Russian army as a fighting force, at least in its own region and secondly, he had to establish that Western guarantees, including NATO membership, meant nothing in the face of Russian power. Georgia was the perfect choice. Georgia is a marginal issue to the United States; Iran is a central issue.

Friedman says:

The war in Georgia, therefore, is Russia's public return to great power status. This is not something that just happened—it has been unfolding ever since Putin took power, and with growing intensity in the past five years. Part of it has to do with the increase in Russian power, but a great deal of it has to do with the fact that the Middle Eastern wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the United States off-balance and short on resources. This conflict created a window of opportunity. The Russian goal is to use that window to assert a new reality throughout the region while the Americans are tied down elsewhere and dependent on Russian cooperation. The war was far from a surprise; it has been building for months. But the geopolitical foundations of the war have been building since 1992. Russia has been an empire for centuries. The last fifteen years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration that would be rectified. And now it is being rectified. Whether the US and its allies can mount a coherent response has now become a central question of Western foreign policy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:08 PM | | Comments (2)


Well, it sits smack right in the middle of it all, doesn't it.Sort of a traffic cop at anintersection direting all that oild and gas from the east and munitions and exports out again. Also exotic stuff like narcotics.
Its not so much an empire as a dukedom. But it has "critical mass", a bit like Israel. It can produce weapons and afford the sort of defence that most countries can't dream of, to deal with intrusions from other powers of any size.
It can't win a cold war, but having lowered its vision to survival, its more limited goals as a sort of medieval nation state are feasible. It can't change the world as its idealists once hoped.
But it can survive as a nation-state, largely for the benefit of those running for it.
And does that make it much different from the other big powers apparent at this time in history?

Russia also has the ability and power to block the expansion of NATO into the Caucuses