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Can Bush Avoid A New Cold War With Russia?

On Thursday, Bush has made new overture towards President Vladimir Putin of Russia in an attempt to slow the steady slide towards a new Cold War status between the two nations. Dr. Condoleezza Rice will also visit Moscow next month, ahead of G8 summit to be held in Germany.

This past week has been marked by some especially tough language from President Vladimir Putin, even comparing current American foreign policy under Bush to that of Nazi Germany. If anything, this marked a new low in the public terms used to describe the other nation between the two world powers.

A major issue between the U.S. and Russia is a plan to install a missile defense network in former some Eastern sphere nations. And with the recent immense oil wealth generated under Putin, compared to the relative state of poverty for Russia under Yeltsin, Russia is now embarking on a dangerous new escalation of high technology arms including the development of a new hypersonic cruise missile able to fly far faster than any current American antimissile defense system can take down, as well as a new program to develop a new generation of strategic bombers. Neither weapon system is what is required to combat the current shared bilateral concerns of terrorism, but as a military counter to any existing U.S. weapons.

Whether Bush has the ability to reverse the steady slide of the relations between the two powers presents the latest challenge for his administration which seems to be suffering from no shortage of foreign policy crisis points right now.

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Comments (4)


Excellent post Paul. I admit that I'm somewhat wary of the ability and/or desire of the Bush administration to ease tensions with Russia.

Nonetheless, I'll be interested to see how things play out with Secretary Rice's visit as well as at the G8 summit. How the U.S. is recieved at both meetings by President Putin should be telling.

I'm still under the impression that the missle defenses installed at the behest of Eastern Europe are not a threat to Russia's overall ability to defend herself.

I'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts on Russia as a power. As of now, I'm getting the feeling that the Cold War hasn't yet ended for them, (so avoiding a new one may be moot) much as World War I hadn't really ended for Germany before the second one began.

I mean to read "The Arms of Krupp" after I finish my current book.

Paul Hamilton:

Larkin: I don't support missile defense because right now it doesn't work. And the amount it costs is excessive in light of the fact that it would probably never be more than 75 to 80 effective. And in light of the fact that missiles aren't the most likely means of attack, that makes it even less useful.

Heralder: The problem is that if one side has a defense against the weapons of the other, the military balance is tipped. Like I said above, I don't think that Star Wars is really effective, but the Russians need to respond to the effort at the very least.

And NeoConservatism is imperialist in nature. I think Bush's overall attitudes are much more of an issue with Putin than any particular weapons system.


Paul Hamilton,

Russia's concern in my opinion, is nonetheless unfounded. There is no, and are no plans for (to my knowledge) a strategic missle defense system in Eastern Europe. A handful of batteries would be used to protect tactically valued targets...and even then, only against a very specific type of missle under specific circumstances.

Russia's response was largely verbal, though their missle defenses seemed to be more densly clustered around Moscow. Not a counter of any sorts, being that missle defense systems do not counter one another...they simply are.

As far as President Bush's imperialist attitudes, I think that would need to be proven, as well as dosed with a healthy amount of common sense before one buys into any scenario where the United States would invade and take over Russia by land, air or sea.

If you believe neoconservatism is by nature imperialistic, out of curiousity, what adjective would best describe progressives? (neoliberalism)

Paul Hamilton:

I would describe progressives as PALEOliberals, not NeoLiberals. I look back to people like Bob LaFollette, FDR and Hubert Humphrey (before he was corrupted by association with Johnson) and see true liberality -- the political agenda of advancing the good of the average American. NeoLibs as I see them are the single-issue leftwingers, such as those who can't see beyond abortion, or the war, or climate change. These folks are willing to put the good of the public on the back burner for the sake of their agenda.

And about Bush's imperialism, remember that he planned to invade Iraq from before the time he was even elected. 9-11 offered him a convenient excuse and he ran with it even though Iraq had nothing to do with the attack.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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