Monday, September 8, 2008

Crazy Ivan

It ain't the 80s anymore.
We talked about this last month, when the action was just getting rolling ("Marching Through Georgia"), but over the past week, the United States and Russia escalated their tough rhetoric against one another, and backed it up with some fairly antagonistic actions and announcements. A US Navy ship, the USS Mount Whitney, entered the Georgian port of Poti as a direct "fuck you" to the Russian troops who were garrisoned there. Moscow wasn't wildly excited about it:
The Kremlin has watched U.S. warships carrying aid with suspicion and said could be a cover for weapons deliveries, a claim dismissed by U.S. officials. President Dmitry Medvedev repeated the suggestions Saturday. "It's interesting how they would feel if we were now to send humanitarian aid using our Navy to the countries of the Caribbean Sea, which recently suffered from a destructive hurricane," Medvedev told a Security Council meeting in Moscow.
Representative of the differences in culture and style of propaganda; it is apparently considered perfectly acceptable for Russia to compare itself to a destructive hurricane. Ironically, we did, in fact, accept humanitarian aid from Russia for Hurrican Katrina, although it probably didn't come from their Navy. Further irony, the Kremlin has decided to make a real world experiment on how the US will respond to the Russian Navy in the Carribean by agreeing to joint operations with Hugo Chavez' Venezualan Navy.

Not super sure what Russia's end-game here is, but they lack the raw power to be respected purely out of fear and are further removing themselves as a nation respected for its moral authority. Buddying around with Chavez is as likely to improve their international status as Britney Spears' image would be improved by hanging out with Amy Winehouse. They look better only by comparison.

If they hope to give the middle finger to America by sending a ship or two to the Caribbean, I think they will be disappointed by the apathy Americans will have for such shenanigans during this period of intense self-absorption we call a presidential campaign. Nobody outside certain offices in the State Department will even notice. News media will probably not even cover it, as they are reallocating reporting resources to cover rumors of Sarah Palin's alien chupacabra babies. Also, any foreign affairs hijinks can only help boost the McCain campaign, who is seen by Americans as the most capable of handling international crisis. How Obama would interact with the Russians as president are unknown, but the Russians certainly don't want to see a President McCain any more than Michael Moore does.

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