January 21, 2005 [LINK]

Krauthammer on geopolitics

Charles Krauthammer makes an interesting observation in today's Washington Post. On one hand, the prospects for democratic reform in such places as the Ukraine, Afghanistan, and even Iraq have been much greater than is usually recognized, suggesting a broad global shift in favor of U.S. interests and values. On the other hand, there is a growing, little-recognized strategic threat to the United States, apart from Al Qaeda and their similar terror groups. Krauthammer was

talking about the other, more subtle challenge to Pax Americana: the first stirrings of what might become an anti-American coalition involving at least two Great Powers.

He went on to focus on the growing strategic collaboration between Russia and China, including the recent announcement of Russian military exercises on Chinese soil, for the first time. Moreover,

China in turn is developing relationships with such virulently anti-American rogue states as Iran. Add such various self-styled, anti-imperialist flotsam as Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, and you have the beginnings of a significant "anti-hegemonic" bloc -- aimed at us.

Just like the good old days of the Cold War!? Nothing to panic about, but it's definitely something to watch. Here is a big irony about the perplexing renewed anger of the "Russian Bear" under the Putin administration: What prompted Moscow's growing alienation from Washington over the past several years was the (largely) needless expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, including the three Baltic States that used to be part of the U.S.S.R. In spite of strong warnings by Boris Yeltsin not to intrude into its traditional geopolitical sphere, the Clinton administration blithely pushed ahead with the "enlargement" of the Western Democratic realm as if there was no reason for Moscow to fear this severe shift in the European strategic balance. Advisers such as Anthony Lake, Joseph Nye, and Sandy Berger insisted that the world had forever left behind such "archaic" notions as balance of power politics. In fact, however, Clinton's brushing aside of Russia's objections was an insulting slap in the face to a country that has long been famous for its touchy nationalistic pride. In the eyes of most Russian elites, it voided what was left of Yeltsin's credibility, and made any Russian who favored more Western investment and political ties suspect as a traitor. And what did "enlargement" get us? A bigger but flabbier NATO that no longer has any real strategic consensus or common purpose. Aside from Poland, the Czech Republic, and perhaps Romania, which have been partners to some extent in the "coalition of the willing," the new members have not added to the security of the Western nations.