Russia under Vladimir Putin continues to position itself in the top tiers of the 'New World Order', as the United States' influence and standing in global affairs diminishes off the back of the tragic failures of the Iraq War, and the international view that its internal troubles are fast growing out of control. The US-initiated 'War on Terror' has failed to curb terror attacks, and it is beyond a fact that it has led to an upsurge in support for Islamic extremism and anti-Americanism across the planet.
Russia counts China and Iran as close, and powerful, allies in the restructuring of the global order, and a new Cold War looms over missile defence, as the United States pushes for an expansion of NATO that will bring in more countries closer to Russia's borders under the missile defence umbrella.
China and Russia, and Iran to a lesser degree, are re-arming on a phenomenal scale, and the United States is attempting to hammer their international credibility through harassing and negative human rights reports, while badgering India and smaller nations to be wary of Russia and China's future plans.
But India, and most recently Japan, are closing ranks with China, in particular, and forming massive multi-billion dollar trade deals with Russia and Iran.
Analysts said the Iraq War was risky on a global scale for the United States, long before the war began, because if they failed to win a total victory, allowing greater expansion of US-backed democracy across the Middle East, and instead got bogged down fighting a protracted guerrilla war, it would deplete American military and Treasury resources, allowing China and Russia to make their move. Clearly, this is now exactly what Russia, and China, are doing.
For now, at least, Russia it would appear is taking the lead in challenging the United States' recruitment of Eastern Europe allies, and their subsequent re-arming, and agitating against the US-led destabilising of the Iranian regime.
From the UK Guardian :
The news that an arms race may be underway once more between Washington and Moscow has brought back some unpleasant memories, but it is also a pointer to a more complicated future.
The Kremlin's threat to counter US missile defence installations in eastern Europe is a sign that Russia will no longer acquiesce in a Pax Americana.
What seemed in the west like a post cold-war honeymoon in the nineties is remembered more as a rape by Moscow's new leaders. In their eyes Russia was taken advantage of at a moment of economic weakness by Washington, London and a band of unscrupulous Russian oligarchs. A new Russian foreign policy, published by the government in recent days makes it clear that Moscow believes the era of American hegemony is now over.
"The myth about the unipolar world fell apart once and for all in Iraq," the review says. "A strong, more self-confident Russia has become an integral part of positive changes in the world."
The policy document is an elaboration of an anti-American polemic delivered two months ago by Vladimir Putin to a roomful of shocked western diplomats in Munich. "The Munich speech may be an event ... we look back to and say: that's when everything changed, but we should have seen it coming," said Cliff Kupchan, a former US state department official now at the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.
Around the world, Putin's Russia has been serving notice for some time it is prepared to challenge US leadership of the international community. It is beginning to push back hard against missile defence and Nato's eastward expansion. It has resisted tough sanctions against Iran, and so far refused to go along with a UN-brokered plan to hand Kosovo autonomy. Moscow is also signalling it wants to be treated as a serious player in the Middle East, meeting Hamas officials at a time they are being ostracised by the US and western Europe.
Washington may be in the throes of intellectual ferment over the Bush doctrine, of defeating extremism by exporting democracy, but the Putin doctrine is by contrast, an exercise in pragmatism. It stresses the importance of national sovereignty and the primacy of the UN in resolving disputes. The common theme is Moscow's demand for its views to be taken into account.
Soaring oil and gas prices have transformed the environment. Russia is no longer a debtor nation. A new self-assuredness was on show when the Russians hosted the G8 meeting at St Petersburg in 2006. "Suddenly, they had all the right suits, watches and the right cars," said a western official who was there.
Along with all the trappings of western affluence came a new determination that Russia would not be absorbed by the west. The Yeltsin government toyed with the idea of joining the European Union, but that idea is now dead. In an article to mark the EU's 50th anniversary, Mr Putin stated openly that Russia has "no intention of either joining the EU or establishing any form of institutional association with it".
Moscow's relationship with Europe is now defined by its role as the continent's oil and gas supplier. Its tactics have been those of a giant corporation seeking to maximise its market power.
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