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Russian Veto


This is kind of interesting. Neither China nor Russia have been shy about using their Security Council vetoes in defense of either regional interests, or in reference to particular issue areas (secessionist movements, for example) that they find politically threatening. However, I think it’s fair to say that Russia and China haven’t gone out of their way to pick Security Council fights against the US and its coalition. I understand that there are some (relatively minor) trade connections between Zimbabwe and China, but the Russian veto, which appears to have precipitated the Chinese veto, doesn’t appear to be connected with the merits of the case at all. Rather, I think that the Russians are sending the US a message: We are so unhappy about missile defense (among other things) that we are now prepared to monkey wrench unconnected diplomatic projects. This interdependence of interest/dispute was characteristic of the Cold War, but has been much rarer in the past two decades.

Another way to put this is that there are four potential Russian Security Council stances:

  1. Russia will take risks to support the US.
  2. Russia will defend its own interests with its veto, but not go out of its way to oppose the US.
  3. Russia will go out of its way to oppose the US in ways that don’t incur substantial risk.
  4. Russia will take risks to oppose the US.

I think we’re still a long way from the Cold War standard of 4, and we’ve never really been at 1 (for any extended period of time), but this vote seems to herald a shift from 2 (which has been standard for the past 18 years or so) to 3.

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  • T. Paine

    Wait, you mean belligerent unilateralism informed by the Green Lantern Theory of international relations is detrimental to US interests?

  • rj

    There has been for more than a decade a really, really stupid idea in U.S. foreign policy that no matter how far we push the envelope, the Russians will just suck it up and take it. After all, we are the hyper-power, and they have to respect that. Extension of NATO was one thing. Missiles are another.

  • namvetted

    Russia plays chess, the US plays checkers. Pros vs. rookies in the international game of politics. With the strength of their petroleum and natural gas holdings, and their control of the EU pipelines, my guess is we lose any confrontation with Russia in the Security Council.

  • RepubAnon

    I think what we’re really seeing is the idea that Russia and China are defending the right of governments the US isn’t happy with to practice authoritarianism. Now that the Bush League has destroyed our moral authority and fiscal power, we’ve got nothing.

  • wengler

    Number 4 comes into play when Russia starts re-supplying Iran with weapons after a joint US-Israel attack.

  • DocAmazing

    Russia and China are defending the right of governments the US isn’t happy with to practice authoritarianism
    Totalitarianism, please. Jeane Kirkpatrick still has a fan club, you know…

  • Jeff Rubinoff

    But what the heck threat to Russian security are 10 anti-sub-ballistic-missile-missiles in Poland? Don’t the Russians have thousands of the damn things?
    I can’t make up my mind if the Russians are putting on some sort of theater to show that they are still powerful, if they are afraid these ten missiles are the beginning of a much larger deployment, or if it’s just Russian default extreme paranoia.
    Also, I’m not sure why the Russians need a medium-range first strike capacity against W Europe.

  • mds

    if they are afraid these ten missiles are the beginning of a much larger deployment
    I’d go with this one, since they almost certainly are.
    Also, I’m not sure why the Russians need a medium-range first strike capacity against W Europe.
    Yes, targeting NATO would certainly be unprecedented. Next thing you know, the US will be putting missiles in Europe.

  • They’re upset because the missiles are supposed to upset them.
    The missiles say “what fucking sphere of influence?” Imperialists have never liked that kind of talk.

  • Jeff Rubinoff

    The US deployed medium-range atomic missiles in Europe–in the 1980s. Against the Soviet Union. Which no longer exists. To the best of my knowledge, there are no current medium-range US missiles in Europe, though we maintain something under 500 airplane-delivered warheads.
    Again, why does Russia need to worry about its strategic nuclear deterrence against W Europe? Other than dick-waving and/or paranoia? Is there the slightest whiff of someone attacking them? Is total war between Russia and the US/NATO remotely probable?
    On the other hand, given that Russian paranoia is well known, why is the US provoking them like this? I know people who think that pissing Russia off is a feature, not a bug, of this missile system. But Russia can still make trouble for the US, and can make a *lot* of trouble for our European allies. And this in exchange for what was explained to me as a deterrent against “nuclear blackmail” by the Iranians. Who don’t have a nuke or a sufficiently long range delivery system yet. And would be seriously and utterly f**ked if they tried something like that, anyway. And if they were crazy enough to do it anyway, how are 10 interceptor missiles going to discourage them?
    So we’re trading definite problems with Russia now against potentially more serious but highly unlikely problems with Iran in the future, and it’s the allies we are supposedly protecting who are going to bear the brunt of Russian wrath.

  • mds

    So a militant nation that has endorsed preemptive war and embraced a doctrine asserting that no other power, friendly or unfriendly, will be permitted to “rival” it; a nation possessing a vast nuclear arsenal and a demonstrated contempt for treaties; a nation that is threatening yet another oil-producing nation that is insufficiently submissive to its wishes; that nation is installing stage one of a missile defense system for the sole purpose of shitting in Russia’s face, and it’s Russia that’s engaging in dick-waving? And Saddam Hussein was presumably asking for it, too. Sweet Jehovah, you cheerleaders for war with everybody really are shameless.

  • Jeff Rubinoff

    Just like I’ve said in every one of my comments on the Internet, when I’ve endlessly repeated how brilliant the US is and how we should just bomb everybody else who disagrees with us.
    Obviously, you’re right. Since the US is arrogant and waving it’s dick, Russia must be completely innocent and innocuous. Because in every conflict and disagreement, one side is always bad and therefore the other side must be good. And of course, since I don’t immediately jump on the bandwagon of US hate (merely suggesting that the US is run by morons), by the same process I’m a cheerleader for war!
    Or, in short, sod off.

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