February 18, 2001

ABM, NMD - Alphabet Soup of Defense

ABM, NMD - Alphabet Soup of Defense

In brief, the U.S. has stated it will go ahead with its NMD system and will not back down or compromise on its plans. Russia is equally firm in its stand against the NMD and will not accept any violation or amendment to the ABM treaty. Various NATO and UN nations (namely China) are either luke warm or in outright opposition to the NMD. Many worry that the NMD, and Russia's promised reaction to it, upset the delicate world, and especially European, strategic balance leading to a new arms race and renewed Cold War situation.

Russian - American relations have been delicate during the years following the fall of the Soviet and the formation of the Russian Federation. Old fears and distrust die hard. Both Russia and the U.S. have made great strides in reaching out to each other along cultural lines. When it comes to national security and politics, the waters are still choppy. Historically, Russia has considered threats from the West to be a reality and has taken various measures to protect itself from these perceived threats. Total trust in any good intentions from the West will not happen overnight. On the other hand, most Americans see Communism as totally evil and question if a nation, which has never practiced democracy before now, can be trusted. Afterall, their current president is a former KGB spy.

Much of the west no longer sees Russia as a military power. In fact, Russia is often identified as problem and standing in the way of global stability. Furthermore, the contributions that the Russian people have made and can make, given improved economic conditions, to the world in the areas of science, medicine, technology, the arts, etc., are often forgotten when Russia is dealt with in the political arena.

The issue of defense systems between the U.S. and Russia comes down to trust. Neither nation has a solid historical foundation of trust where the other is concerned. So, how do the two nations and their people come to a point where they do not feel threatened by each other and, thus, compelled to be on the defensive in their dealings? Short of a grand leap of faith, it would seem that only time, dialogue and shared experiences will build a solid bridge. But, how long will this take and at what cost?

 "So where does our Russian - American relationship go from here? If it were left up to the peoples of both nations, all would be fine but governments are always behind their people in thinking and this situation is not any different. . . it is not only Russia that is quivering but our own internal, along with our collective moral compass, needs some grave repair."
(from a reader)

Meanwhile, China has agreed to purchase an unspecified number of A-50 radar jets from Russia. Originally, China was going to buy Falcon radar planes from Israel, but the latter withdrew from deal due to pressure from the U.S. The U.S. strongly opposes the Russia-China sale; Russia is not likely to back out of the sale, however.

Both nations will survive, of this there is little if any doubt. The U.S. is the stronger world power and the soul of the Russian people will guarantee Russia's survival and growth. In the process, will the walls that began to crumble back in 1989 be partially or totally rebuilt?

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