What the Hostile Understand

A comment from “mangeek” suggests that differences in our understanding of how people think and what countries comprehend about each other may lie behind our contrary conclusions:

I believe that a Russia that’s not pissed off at us makes the world a far safer place than an expensive an ineffective ‘missile shield’ would.

A very long discussion could be had about whether it’s better to piss off Russia or to protect against actions that it might take, but what interests me is the first conclusion. Is Russia — as a nation or as represented by its leaders — pissed at us? With the possible exceptions of the occasional crackpot dictator (Kim Jong Il comes to mind), I don’t believe countries operate in that way.
Russia, especially, has invested sufficient resources into studying the United States that it can be counted on to have a more thorough understanding of our system and our mission than the average American. It is playing a strategic game to prevent us from standing in the way of Russian leaders’ designs, and our president is doing plenty of blinking.

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14 years ago

I’m not sure the ‘missile shield’ in eastern Europe would have stood in teh Russians’ way. Backing off from it was largely, I believe, a financial decision by Obama, he has a lot of Guns vs. Butter decisions to make these days, and he’s promised a whole lot of butter.
I’m not too worried about Russia with regards to nuclear weapons, since we already have mutually-assured destruction with them, and they’re not likely to risk turning themselves into thin ionized vapor.
I’m also not sure that the ‘missile shield’ would offer much protection to anyone, especially the massive numbers of weapons that Russia has, it would be like defending against a wasp’s nest with a fly swatter.
I believe our policy should seek to maintain an ‘effective enough’ military, but not one so large that it becomes a ‘solution looking for a problem’, getting involved every so-often just to cycle-out old equipment (as I feel Iraq was a result of).
as for whether it’s working, read this:
Because we backed down first, there won’t be any more additional Russian missiles deployed to the area. That looks like a win-win to me, except for the Czechs, who were hoping to gain a South Korea-type deterrent and some economic benefits, at the US taxpayer’s expense.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

As I said, that’s an ancillary argument to what interested me. I will say, though, that in such cases, the actual utility of the chips on the board may be less important than the player’s willingness to put them there.

14 years ago

Gee, George Bush never blinked. His eyes were so wide open that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul and came away happy. Real quality judgments from our former fearless leader which drew no comment from Justin or any of the other contributors to Rancor Rising.
What Justin claims as ancillary seems of the essence, what Justin claims is essential seems ancillary.

14 years ago

I’m not sure if Russia is playing a strategic game here. I think both sides just saved billions on our Mutually Assured Destruction insurance!
Aren’t we supposed to feel -safer- when we find out there’s fewer nukes pointing at us?
And I think we do risk making Russia angry if we force them to beef up their military spending. If they do have ‘designs’, they’re going to need to dedicate resources to conventional weaponry; if they don’t, they’re in an economic crisis too, and could use the butter.
Maybe I’m just having a hard time putting things into a cold-war context now that it’s been over for so long. I just don’t see us having ‘relations’ that involve projectiles with any world powers any time soon. I think trade has really brought us together quite a bit, and everyone’s realized how much nicer things are when we’re not itching to vaporize each other.

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