Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whose Interests Are They?

Today's NYTimes has an editorial about Mr. Obama and Russia. The article is quite remarkable. Their suggestion for starting a new relationship with Russia is for America to focus on arms control and Iran. They write:
Arms control may be the most promising area for early progress. The 2002 Moscow treaty, Mr. Bush’s one and only agreement, allows each country to deploy between 1,700 and 2,200 long-range nuclear weapons. They could easily go to 1,000 weapons each.
One might wonder why Russia would be interested in this. After all, decommissioning nuclear weapons is more expensive than maintaining them. Perhaps they want to eliminate the one factor that makes Russia relevant in international relations?

The highlight of the article, however, is this gem:
The administration also will have to test whether Moscow will do more to help end Iran’s nuclear program. That, too, is in Russia’s clear strategic interest, even though the Kremlin has yet to see it.
The problem with the whole article is that it wants to create a new Russia by focusing on issues that are of concern to us but not to Russia (of course, we know Russia's interests better than they do). We want Russia to cooperate on things we care about and we want them to endure (in silence) our complaints about their behavior in other areas. Hard to build a relationship that way.

As attentive reader Clifford Gaddy notes:
Well, I hope Putin's checks his NYT daily, so he can see what Russia's strategic interests really are.

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