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Tuesday, 12 August 2008

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So you, along with your favorite writer (btw, his name is very easy to pronounce) are recommending appeasement.

As if history taught you nothing.

...and are you also in concert with Newsweek, as described here?

So, Tatyana, exactly what do you suggest we do?

The opposite of what your "sensible" advisers suggest. You can read NeoNeo's post, for ideas. Or go to Thomas.

Well then, are you advocating that we go to war with Russia over Georgia?

no, I am not. There are other, tried and prooved methods - see "Ronald Reagan" and "Cold War".

Don't get her mad, Mr. Duff. She will ridicule your hospital experience and then even insult dog!

Just looking out for you.

David, look - the barking idiot, "little willy" twin has descended on your lawn now.

Spray the antiseptic, quick!

Hahaha, you have no power here!

(from the Wizard of Oz)

China may well be a rising great power. Russia, on the other hand, would appear to be a basket case, temporarily flush with oil funds. Kissinger no doubt had it right in referring to her strategic limitations.

Ladies! Ladies! Decorum, always decorum!

Tatyana, I take the point you are making but the situation now is *very* different to the confrontation between the old Soviet Union and the West. Then, Europe was frozen into its two constituent halves by the fear of the Bomb, and so proxy wars were fought all over the globe but never in Europe. Today, Europe is in a state of extreme flux but the Bomb still hangs over everything. I have been warning for some time that the gangsters who run Russia are likely to cause trouble but in dealing with them I think you need to be very subtle. Whilst as an Englishman I fear Russia rather more than China, were I an American it would be the reverse. The very first priority of any western foreign policy, in my opinion, must be to try and do everything to keep the two of them apart - or better still at each other's throats.

'Sister Wolf', welcome to Duff & Nonsense, your reputation goes before you so I will handle you (in the nicest way, of course) with kid gloves!

'H', you are equally welcome. There is an old military/political adage to the effect that Russia is never as strong as she looks, nor as weak as she looks! The problem is that history indicates that being weak is no inhibition to foolish military adventures - think, Japanese high command, circa 1940, who with considered deliberation went across the Pacific and poked a sleeping giant in the eye! I might add, that in those days, the sleeping giant, through an oversight, rather provoked them in the first place; so that re-inforces my contention that today we need to tread carefully and 'box clever'.

Whilst as an Englishman I fear Russia rather more than China, were I an American it would be the reverse. The very first priority of any western foreign policy, in my opinion, must be to try and do everything to keep the two of them apart - or better still at each other's throats.

I think America and China, mainly due to their enormous trading and China's enormous, largely unmentioned, domestic challenges, will settle their differences behind closed doors and dance around each other for the sake of appearances, knowing not to cross the line.

Russia will think its main threat is the USA, and wake up one morning to find that actually it's not, China is. By then it might be too late, and the US stands by and does nothing. Either that, or the Russians know full well the US is no threat and all the Russian bravado of late is really in preparation for confronting China at some point.

In the grand scheme of things, the US is in the best position of all three by far. Russia is in the worst.

Incidentally, does anyone other than me find Russia's bleating about Nato, missile shields, etc. a bit pathetic?

Russia is being subjected to the same foreign policy treatment as pretty much any other major power, yet whines as if it were on the verge of being eliminated from the face of the earth. It's as if Nato membership of Georgia and the Baltics and an anti-missile system in Poland was Barbarossa all over again. Talk about a thin skin.

Oh, and don't get me started on Russia's "unique" history of being surrounded and invaded. Last time I looked, Russia was invaded by the Mongols in the 15th century, along with half of Eurasia; again in 1812, as was most of Europe; and again in 1942 along with most of Europe, the Russians on this occasion having signed a deal with the invaders to help them in their previous conquests.

By this criteria, Russia has had it no worse than anyone else. True, Britain hasn't been invaded since 1066, but Napolean and Hitler were both pretty keen on the idea and we don't start squealing about unique histories whenever the Frogs launch a new carrier. And we were invaded on a weekly basis up until 1066, often by hairy-arsed Danes carrying ruddy great axes.

And take France, or Belgium even. Invaded time and again by all comers, yet we don't hear them blubbering about it. They might cry about most everything else, but they don't try to invoke some unique historical status to defend national paranoia.

Russia wants to play the victim and at the same time be the Daddy. Choose one or the other, but not both.

Tim, you make some good points. I do think that with skilful diplomacy America could encourage differences between Russia and China. The problem is that that entails 'supporting' (in some way, to some degree) one against the other. I agree that a mutuality (of a sort) already exists between China and the USA, not least because the Chinese are sitting on shed-loads of US dollars. However, to keep that going will entail an easing of the Taiwan situation to China's benefit. However, other Asian nations (Japan, India, South Korea) might become nervous if the US gets too soft with China.

Equally, I think the West could and should allow Russia a certain latitude on its borders. What has happened in Georgia is the worst possible outcome for us. Putin and his gangsters have pulled off a carefully planned stroke and we in the West look feeble and divided. The Germans have their own national interests in the East and are unlikely to support any sort of strong line against Russia. It will be interesting to see if Putin, puffed with success, will try something else - the Ukraine had better watch out!

Finally, as I have mentioned several times on this blog, from the very *little* knowledge I have of China, I think they suffer with constant centrifugal forces and it will be interesting to see how the Party copes over the next few years.

And it was a Chinaman, wasn't it, who said that it was a curse to live in interesting times!

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