Archive for the ‘Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Category

Russia First With A Meaningful Test for Obama

November 14, 2008

If the new administration is thinking about relations with Russia, as it should be, a rare personal story of an American scholar’s recent talk with the Russian president offers some substantive insights.

Andrew Kuchins told a small group of us at the Center for Strategic and International Studies fall meeting about how President Dmitry Medvedev described his phone conversation with President Bush last summer during the nasty little war between Georgia and its former imperial power, Moscow.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Chief of Russia's ... 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Chief of Russia’s Nanotechnology Agency Anatoly Chubais seen during the 2008 EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table Annual Conference in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

Medvedev told the small group of scholars in the Valdai Discussion Club that Bush had asked him, “You are a young government — what do you need this war for?” And Medvedev told him, “George, you would have done the same thing, only more brutally. … And, remember, if you continue your support of the Georgian regime, you do so at our own risk.”

By Georgie Anne Geyer

Kuchins, a young Eurasian specialist at CSIS, then used this unusual opportunity of hearing what Russians really think to catapult to his deep concerns about American/Russian relations and Russian intentions today. “For years since the Cold War,” he said, “I have believed that the chance of war with Russia was close to zero. Today, that probability seems, while obviously difficult to quantify, between 2 and 3 percent — and rising. I never saw (Russian and American) narratives about the world so diametrically opposed.”

Then he recalled how President Medvedev also told them at the meeting, with unmistakable meaning, “We will not tolerate any more humiliation — and we are not joking!”

Now, I have covered the Soviet Union, and later the Russian Federation, regularly since 1967, and I can say that that one word, “humiliation,” plus the fear of it, are largely behind virtually all Russian actions and statements.

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, respected Russian specialist and co-author of the new book, “America and the World, Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy,” told us at the same CSIS meeting: “The Russians are still searching for their soul. Are they really Europeans, who didn’t enjoy the Enlightenment, or are they Asians? … We’ve never had a strategy for dealing with the Russians after the Cold War … (W)e left the impression that it didn’t matter.”

So, where are we now? Well, when Vice President-elect Joe Biden warned earlier this fall that the world would test the new president, the first to step up to the plate was Moscow. Within mere days of the election, that same Russian president had thrown out the first ball: With bristling words, he warned he would co-opt the Bush administration‘s plan to put missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic by saying that Moscow would respond by placing short-range missiles on Russia’s Western border in Kaliningrad. These were all “forced measures,” he said, in place of the “positive cooperation that Russia wanted to combat common threats.”

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Olympics A Catalyst for Congressional Interest In China

January 12, 2008
By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – The world will be watching China closely as it gears up to host the Olympics this year. So will U.S. lawmakers, who hope to use the attention generated by the summer games to highlight their complaints about China’s government.

Lawmakers, in hearings and in legislation, will scrutinize what some see as unfair Chinese economic policies, its secretive military buildup and its human rights abuses. China already has been targeted by presidential candidates.

“The Chinese want this `Show’ — with a capital `S’ — to showcase their government to the world,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in an interview. Congress, he said, should use that as leverage to “bring maximum scrutiny and light to their egregious human rights abuses.”

Chris Smith
Chris Smith (U.S. politician)

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Rice, Gates face uphill battle to convince Saudis

July 27, 2007

By Sue Pleming and Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates travel to the Middle East next week seeking Arab support to stabilize Iraq but they may face an uphill battle from Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials are increasingly frustrated with Sunni Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia that harbor doubts about Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, seeing it as unable to pacify the country and too close politically to Shi’ite-dominated Iran.

A senior State Department official said on Friday Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors must send an “affirmative” message of support to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and to Sunni moderates in Iraq.

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US capable of defending Taiwan: top US commander

July 26, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has the capability to swiftly move military forces to defend Taiwan against a potential attack from China, the top US military commander in the Asia-Pacific region said Tuesday.

Admiral Timothy Keating shrugged off suggestions at a Washington forum that the United States, burdened by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not have sufficient forces in the vicinity to respond quickly enough to an incursion on Taiwan by China.

“I don’t lose sleep at night over our ability to respond to any crisis anywhere…

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