Sunday, December 17, 2006

Russia extends her tentacles

Two articles from today's press caught my attention:

Cuba renews old ties with Russia: In his first major policy initiative since assuming power, Gen. Raúl Castro signed a far-reaching military-aid agreement with Russia. In September, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, visited Cuba and signed an economic-aid pact providing Castro with $350 million in credits to upgrade Cuba's armed forces, including the acquisition of Russian transportation equipment, air-navigation systems, industrial goods for the energy sector and financing of future Russian investments in Cuba, among other projects. Fradkov met with Raúl Castro in a climate described as ''cordial and friendly'' by the Cuban press.

This accord with the Russians rounds out Cuba's international alliances with key strategic countries. They include Venezuela, China and Iran. Whether the Russian deal was in the making prior to Fidel Castro's surgery or developed as a more recent initiative, it reaffirms Raúl's long-standing admiration and support for Soviet policies in the past and for Russian policies in the present.

Russia creates political dialogue mechanism with Mercosur: Russia and member states of the South American Common Market (Mercosur) signed on Friday a memorandum of understanding to create a political and cooperation dialogue mechanism.

This mechanism is aimed at increasing political, economic, technical and cultural consultations between Russia and the South American block.

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterparts from the Mercosur member states -- Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela -- and its associates, Bolivia and Chile, signed the document in Brasilia, capital of Brazil.

If I was using a comic strip as a medium for expressing my view I might have a picture of Putin looking at a map of the Americas saying, "Monroe who?"

While the current administration has been trying to extend US influence in the Middle East, and by most accounts, doing the opposite, Russia and China have been outflanking their efforts in Africa and the Americas. It is as if the more we try to extend our dominion the more we lose what we have, which tends to be the way of power over men- it accrues fastest and most durably when you don't try to gain it- when the choice is freely made.

I've been getting a few emails (please use the comments section) about my "championing" of Russia's cause so I'd like to set the record straight.

To use an ice hockey metaphor, it is not "championing" the opposing team to notice that they have scored more goals than your team has in the first two periods of play. Often such recognition acts as a motivating force. Acting as if you are winning when you are not fosters complacency.

I wish corporate heads hadn't accepted the notion that the End of History was at hand when the Soviet Union imploded, for we are now reaping the harvest sown by the imposition of unfair PSAs. Recognizing the effects of unwise choices is, at least as I view the world, how one learns. If the US wishes to regain its status it needs to avoid such errors and remember that capitalism works best when win-win deals are structured.

I experience no joy watching Russia and China rise to fill the vacuum of honest broker created by our imperial misadventure in Iraq. But it would be silly to not recognize their rise, the context and choices that allowed it to happen, and the eventual effects on the lives of those around me.


Ruby said...

Hey Dude, I learned from Marshall McLuhan that one way to ascertain what's up in an environment is to take an "inventory of effects". Listing the effects of any technology does not condone the technology, nor does it refute it. An inventory of effects is about understanding what's actually happening without clouding the situation with judgements.

Seeing what's happening in the world with China and Russia making deals all over, and listing them does not mean one is ready to wear Red.

I have been seeing this go on since the late 90s when I started reading Space News, the trade paper of the satellite and launch industry. Strict rule changes on exportation of satellite technology started the major slide of tech deals that the US now had No Part Of.

Can't use a part made in the USA? OK, let's make em in Italy, or Germany, or France, or England, or... There are so many alliances between China and Russia and the rest of the world that we used to be a part of, but now, we're on the sidelines.

That was the one thing we had going for us, the high tech design, but now, all we've got is Hollywood.

It's so sad to our stature run down like this. It's embarrassing. While our country is drained of its blood in a tragic invasion, we are becoming the voodoo zombie, half dead, yet still able to cause trouble.