Via Stephen Green at Insty comes this thought-provoking article by Michael Korfman, which you need to read first for the rest of this to make any kind of sense. It’s one of the best takes on the geopolitical situation with respect to Russia and the U.S. that I’ve seen for a while, so it’s worth the time. And the fact that much of his analysis is based on historical precedent makes his hypothesis even more compelling.
While looking at the reasons why Russia is doing what it’s doing, Korfman makes this comment (and it gives rise to my only quibble with his piece):
This theory of victory stems from the Russian assumption that the structural balance of power will eventually shift away from the United States towards China and other powers in the international system, resulting in a steady transition to multipolarity. This strategy is emergent, but the hope is that a successful campaign of raiding, together with the greater threat from China, will force Washington to compromise and renegotiate the post-Cold War settlement.
I don’t understand why Russia would “raid” the Western democracies to cause the focus of power to move towards China, which seems on its face to be a perilous activity for Russia. After all, the United States is never going to invade and annex Siberia — which the Chinese are going to do, eventually and inevitably, as soon as they become strong enough — and with the loss of Siberia’s oil and mineral resources, Russia is going to be left far weaker even than it is already.
Unless, of course, the Russians are gambling that China will first try to establish hegemony in the South China Sea, and that if the U.S. has been weakened even slightly, that China will follow that course instead of invading Siberia. It’s a big gamble.
Failing that eventuality, I don’t have a counter-answer as to why Russia is being a pain in the ass; I do have a solution to counter their activities, which is to raid them back. For starters, I see a hugely-favorable trade agreement with Georgia, a massive U.S. military entrenchment in the Baltic states (with some offensive and not just defensive capability) and a “boys will be boys” attitude towards CIA mischief aimed at undermining Russian beach-heads (a.k.a. their embassies) in every country in the world. Two can play at the raiding game, and we need to show the Russians that we can, and will. Yeah, it leads to dangerous brinkmanship; but it’s also a way to stop their shit-stirring, or at least think twice before doing it.
As Cousin Avi said in Snatch: “Russians. I should’ve known. Anti-Semite, slippery Cossack sluts.” Truer words were never spoken, and we shouldn’t forget them.