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Laughing at the Bear

In Newsweek, Christohper Dickey, John Barry, and Owen Matthews have written a piece to let us know that Russia is not a formidable threat. The authors know this because of the following one-liner from State Department spokesman Sean McCormick:

Sneering at the weakness of Russia’s fleet en route to Venezuela, McCormack said, “We’ll see if they actually make it there. Somebody told me they had a tugboat accompanying them in case they break down along the way.”

Based on that point alone, we’re treated to three pages on how today’s Russia is more worthy of laughter than concern, and why, therefore, globally-minded “realists” in the State Department are winning the day with their laid-back approach to handling Moscow. The article closes on this cute note:

So the fleet led by the Kirov-class guided missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) continued toward Caracas. And so, by last report, did the tugboat.

Well, there are a few reports Newsweek has ignored. For starters, yesterday that fleet made a stop in Libya on its way to Caracas. What’s particularly interesting is that the chief realist at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice recently paid a friendly visit to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli that was hailed as a “a new chapter in U.S.-Libya bilateral relations,” by White House press secretary Dana Perino.” As Valdimir Puitn has signaled renewed interest in Russia’s old Cold War ally, we’ll just have to see what the next chapter brings.

Here’s another little report that just came out:

Russia test-fired long-range ballistic missiles Sunday as President Dmitri Medvedev pledged to build up the country’s armed capabilities.

[…]

The statement Sunday was the latest pledge by the Russian head of state to revive the might of the armed forces. Medvedev said Saturday that Russia would resume building aircraft carriers and last month announced that Russia would build more new submarines. The president also said that the country’s nuclear deterrent should be upgraded within 12 years.

Seeking to assert its power after a decade of oil-fueled economic growth, Russia announced that it would increase defense spending 26 percent to a post-Soviet record of 1.28 trillion rubles, or $48 billion, next year.

But we can stick to jokes about tugboats, if realists prefer.



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