Russia starts "Lukewarm War" with the West

Written by  //  August 14, 2008  //  Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, India, Russia  //  Comments Off on Russia starts "Lukewarm War" with the West

By M.D. Nalapat
Column: Future Present

Published: August 12, 2008

(UPI Asia Online) Manipal, India – The Soviet Union became a superpower during the rule of Josef Stalin, who terrorized those territories that he did not immediately annex. After the 1939-45 war, the USSR controlled Eastern Europe and challenged the primacy of the United States and its European partners across the world.

But since Stalin’s death in 1953, Moscow has almost always given way when confronted with a resolute Western response. Nikita Khruschev blinked hard in Cuba in 1962, with the United States agreeing only to avoid another invasion of Cuba — a course that anyway had been shown to be folly a short while earlier — in exchange for a humiliating withdrawal of Soviet missiles from the island.

Throughout the Cold War, although Moscow enjoyed considerable conventional military superiority in Europe, its forces never once strayed beyond the boundaries set in 1945. Had it done so, the history of Europe may have been different in that such tensions would almost certainly have affected the economic environment negatively.

As it turned out, it was the USSR that imploded economically, drained both by a dysfunctional central-command system as well as by military spending that would have been justified only if the armaments so expensively procured were put to use to secure geopolitical gains.

The Afghan war most exposed the strategic cowardice of the Soviet leadership. At any stage in the decade-long conflict, an attack on Pakistan would have resulted in the immediate drying up of the flow of supplies from across the border to the mujahideen. It is unlikely that the United States and other NATO partners would have risked a flare-up of Warsaw Pact-NATO tensions in Europe by seeking to protect Pakistan from a Soviet assault. Peshawar and other centers of Afghan resistance would have been pulverized by Soviet bombing, and international jihad — which today has morphed into a severe threat to international security — would have lost its Afghan-Pakistani sanctuary.

Today, it is the United States that is following in the timid footsteps of the USSR, by winking at the blatant support given from within Pakistan to a re-energized Taliban, thus dooming to eventual failure the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The Russian invasion of territory belonging to the independent state of Georgia has shown that the rulers in Moscow have analyzed the numerous instances when Moscow gave way to NATO, and come to the conclusion that these have been without any reciprocal benefit. This is similar to the assessment of some within the Indian strategic community regarding India’s self-restraint when juxtaposed with the absence of concessions the country has received for its exemplary record on nuclear and missile non-proliferation.  More

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