Sunday, October 12, 2008


Can we afford a new Cold War?

by Larry Geller

It’s not just Russian missiles dropping into the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii’s backyard. Our military approach to international relations is resulting in a predictable military response.

While the US is distracted by Wall Street’s deepening financial meltdown, Russia is moving warships into the Caribbean. Clearly, this is in reaction to stationing of “early warning” sites in former East-bloc countries and US intervention in Georgia. It’s the rebirth of the old Cold War.

These are the times that try men's souls.
—Thomas Paine, The Crisis 
The incursion into Latin America has been made possibly by our own stance in opposition to several regional governments. The list is only growing of countries that resent US economic pressures against them or have to deal with outright US interference in their administrations.

Planning or carrying out coups does not win hearts and minds for the USA. In Haiti we kidnapped and flew out democratically-elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Most recently we supported actions in Bolivia against its popular President Evo Morales. And of course the past and ongoing attempts to oust Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are hardening the leaders of many South American countries against us. This leaves them open to overtures from Russia.

The question for the next U.S. president is how serious a threat is Russia in the Western hemisphere. The Russians — angered by the expansion of NATO, a proposed U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe, and the recognition of independent Kosovo — are projecting force in Latin America to give the United States a taste of its own medicine, both Russian and American experts agree.

Those tensions are only likely to grow as Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Georgia continue to press for NATO membership. That commits the U.S. and other NATO nations to defend them if attacked . . .
. . .
But Russia considers it threatening to have NATO nations less than 100 miles from its key cities, as is the case with Estonia. It also was angered when the Bush administration dispatched two U.S. warships to the Black Sea to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia. [, Russia in Caribbean Raises Fears of War With U.S., 9/23/2008]

(thanks to Brad Parsons for the pointer to this article)

So it’s US radar installations near Russia and warships in their backyard. The US could have sent the humanitarian aid on civilian ships, couldn’t it? So now we have Russian ships in our backyard. And not just little ones, this is one of the largest warships in the world.

And Pavel Felgengauer, a leading Russian defense expert, told The Times of London, "It’s to show the flag and the finger to the United States. They are offering a sort of gangland deal: If you get into our territory, then we will get into yours. You leave Georgia and Ukraine to us and we won’t go into the Caribbean, OK?”

Isn’t this the time to rethink our deteriorating relationships with our neighbors? Look at the consequences to our already faltering economy if we are faced with military challenges to our shipping in this region:

“The U.S. Gulf Coast is not only the heart of the country’s energy industry, but the body of water that allows the United States to function as a unified polity and economy,” [Peter] Zeihan [at] writes. “The Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins all drain to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The economic strength of these basins depends upon access to oceanic shipping.

“A hostile power in Cuba could fairly easily seal both the Straits of Florida and the Yucatan Channel, reducing the Gulf of Mexico to little more than a lake.”

Should we let our government drag us into a new Cold War at a time when we are so badly hurting economically?

There are other things we could do that would be far more productive. One would be to make nice to Cuba and lift the inhumane embargo, followed by normalizing diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. Cuba and America have natural affinities that should come into play, even after decades of hostility.

The second would be to repair our spat with Venezuela. We can think of it as diplomacy for oil, if we must, instead of war for oil.

Or we can look forward to having our resources drained even further defending our own backyard even as we continue to lose influence in Latin America.

The next president has a full plate already, and he hasn’t even been elected yet. Oh, I feel I should just add here that Sarah Palin can’t even see Venezuela from Alaska.

Thomas Paine [1737-1809] had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. []


Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older