Red Storm Rising or Passing Shower?
The recent incident between Russia and Georgia has been over hyped as the start of a second Cold War, with all the trappings of political re-alignments, proxy wars, and massive spending on defense budgets. Soviets bombers are flying over the Caribbean, the Russian navy is sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar, and the US and NATO allies are told they are on the decline. This is the stuff right out of a Tom Clancy novel – but before we get ahead of ourselves and dust off the fallout shelters let’s take a sober look at the Russian Bear.
These two articles by Pavel Felgenhauer at Eurasia Daily Monitor outline some of the plans and problems of rearmament for Russia, something Russia clearly feels it needs in order to become a resurgent superpower on the world stage;
Another article by Murray Feshbach at the Washington Post highlights some of the social problems facing the Russians internally, which point not only to a decline in Russian influence vis-à-vis population decline, but also the unhealthy state of the existing population. Hardly the tidings of a resurgent superpower…
In contrast, statements of Western decline are greatly exaggerated and are designed to minimize the true strength of the West to a level of parity with Russia. Kicking out a few thousand Georgians 50 miles from your border is one thing, but pales against the US and coalition forces crushing Iraq militarily and then maintaining sufficient forces for half a decade or more on the other side of the planet. Sure, the West has problems of a resurgent Afghanistan and no one doubts the US military is strained, but if you consider how much skill and effort is needed to maintain an all-volunteer force thousands of miles from home for this amount of time you will realize just how wide the gap truly is. This doesn’t even begin to address such technological show pieces as stealth bombers, aircraft carrier battle groups and anti-missile systems which have at best crude parallels on the Russian side. If you throw in a comparison of living standards between Russia and the West the scales continue to tip. If this is Cold War II, there is already a clear winner.
Have you read anything to suggest Russia can truly become a superpower again?