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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Russia taking advantage of disinterested Obama Administration to project military strength internationally.

In the last few months, Russia has aggressively extended its military footprint around the globe.  While most eyes are focused on Russian military action in Syria, Moscow has completed construction on a military facility in the Arctic, and stepped up diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis Baghdad, Cuba, and the United Nations.  Everytime that Russia succeeds in extending its military influence, the United States suffers accordingly.  Russia's move to establish s military base in the Arctic comes on the heels of discoveries that the vast frozen areas north of the Arctic Circle hold great potential for mineral and fossil fuel exploration.  Researchers and businesses in the United States have also expressed interest in Arctic resource exploration, but the Obama Administration has responded to such entreaties with suspicion and concern regarding the potential ecological impact.  Also, the recent rapprochement between the United States and Cuba has apparently not dimmed the close relationship between Moscow and Havana.  Many expect Cuba to lead the proposed Russian military "coalition" in Syria.  Presently, this coalition can count Iran, pro-regime Syria, Hezbollah, and possibly Belarus as members; many consider this grouping of Russian allies to be a counter to the U.S. coalition already in place in Syria.

A number of U.S. allies are beginning to discreetly express concern over the apparent apathy that appears to dominate the foreign policy of the United States in the later period of the Obama Presidency.  Since the election of 2008, most European leaders have been quick to support the Obama Aministration's policies, with the crises in Ukraine and Syria being two prime examples.  But as the failure of these policies become more apparent, and Obama seems unwilling to stand up and confront increased Russian global activity, certain European leaders are reviewing what options might be available that do not require the presence of the United States government in a leadership role.  No doubt our allies outside of Europe are also concerned about the lack of movement on the part of the United States.  China must also recognize that an opportunity currently exists, and will assuredly take advantage as well, while Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Australia wonder if the status quo can hold until a new administration takes over in Washington DC.

At present, more so than at any point in the last seven years, the United States needs to be an international leader.  This administration was quick to mobilize its diplomatic resources to conclude terrible treaties with both Russia (2010 New Start disarmament treaty with Russia), and Iran (2015 agreement on Iranian nuclear research).  Given that our allies are simply waiting for some sign of strength and consistency, it's not too late to check Vladimit Putin's strategy to create in Russia the world's sole super-power.  A fascinating aspect of these developments is that Russia's aggressive military and diplomatic moves have come while the Obama Administration continues to characterize Russia's economy as being close to collapse.  It seems as is if we've been waiting for that collapse ever since the beginning of the sanctions regime that was imposed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.  I'm glad we weren't holding our breath.....

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