Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We treated Post-Soviet Russia like Post-WW I Germany: why expect different outcome?

After World War I, the Allies imposed brutal terms on the defeated Germans, imposing not only reparations for war costs, but maintaining a starvation blockade AFTER surrender, and stripping Germany of territory.

After the Fall of the Soviet Union, we had a chance to steer Russia toward a stable, European-style social democracy.

Instead, the Wall Street types insisted that any economic aid come at the price of radical free market reforms that actually lowered the standard of living and even life expectancy compared to Soviet days.

Likewise, the breaking away of former Soviet Republics may have been inevitable, but their quick integration into NATO and America siding strongly with political candidates in those countries based on how quickly they would open up to foreign investments. shed their social safety net, and allow us to use their soil as a base for military operations was a continual slap in the face of the critically injured but not dead Russia.

There are, however, a couple of critical differences between Germany after WWI and Russia after Communism.

Germany was a great industrial power, which could make her a powerful military adversary but she was poor in the natural resource to power expansionist ambitions: oil. Hitler didn't seize enough oil-rich territory in time to fight the allies indefinitely and ran out of gas.

By contrast, Russia sits on the Caspian Sea Basin, where some of those oil reserves Hitler needed were, and American oil companies are trying to quietly pick them out of Russia's pocket, one former republic and pipeline at a time. One of those is in Georgia.

We have not only beaten Russia, we have taken their watch and are now trying to pry loose their fillings. How would you expect them to respond?

Russia also correctly sees us as trying to control all of the major oil producing countries in the Persian Gulf, adding occupied Iraq to our "ally" Saudi Arabia, and now Bush & Cheney are eying Iran's reserves as well. Would we allow Russia to gain control of so much of the world's oil and on top of that, cozying up to Mexico to suck oil from under our border?

Another way Russia is unlike Germany is Russia has about as many nuclear warheads as we do, and unlike the phantom menace from Iraq, Russia has the means to deliver them and a possible motive. This makes the Wall Street post-communist plan to belittle and plunder Russia suicidal. If you beat someone to pulp and keep pounding, if the only weapon he has to fight back is a hand grenade, he just might pull the pin even if it means killing himself as well as you.

Our Wall Street first foreign policy has led us into a costly war in Iraq, and if we attack Iran or make a misstep on Georgia, it could lead to World War that could cost billions of lives. And whichever corporations profit from the war, none of them will share the loot with average Americans anymore than they are sharing their massive profits from running up the price of oil with wars and threats of war.

The great flaw of the Wall Street first foreign policy is it expects people to respond like sheepish employees given the pink slip and escorted out of the office. But when you are being forcibly removed from your means of survival, as is the case in Iraq, and we are now seeing in Russia, people do not go quietly, and more innocent bystanders than guilty parties end up dead.

Peace with dignity and security for all parties involved may mean less short term profits for Wall Street speculators, but as we saw with the Marshall Plan after World War II, a well-fed and well-treated former adversary doesn't take up arms against you again, and both sides can prosper.

We must choose between modest profits for most, stability and life for all, or quick profits for a few, and war and death for everyone else.


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