Proving my point: Prior to Obama, there was a new Cold War afoot

For the duration of the George W. Bush administration, I argued that the foreign policy tactics being pursued were leading to a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. In particular, Bush’s love for dropping billions on ineffective missile defense technology while he dismissed hard-earned nuclear arms treaties made me think this was afoot.

I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Blogs by respected people at the Columbia University Press blog said much the same. Edward Lucas, the Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist magazine has a book out arguing that it was Putin as much as Bush that was provoking the new Cold War. (Remember how Bush said he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul? That was Putin playing Bush like a fiddle.)

Finally, I saw this in The Guardian tonight:

Despite the recent thaw in relations, the US and Russia continued to spy on each other, said Mark Urnov, dean at the political science department of Russia’s Higher School of Economics.

“This [spy scandal] is an issue dating from previous years,” he said. “The security services can’t stop their activities immediately. Until recently, there was a semi-cold war between US and Russia. [Emphasis added.] So why not spy?”

Even if this does not prove my point, at very least it provides very strong support for it. A new Cold War was in the making, or even happening. And I would also argue that President Obama has effectively defused it. He’s not letting this spy ring bust get in his way of doing it.

Presidents Obama, Medvedev sign new nuclear weapons reduction treaty

Bravo, Mr. President. Anything that helps reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world is a good thing. Steps to reduce the number of loose nukes or nuclear material is just as important.

Coverage via TPM:

While I once pondered the attempt by the previous resident of the White House to start a new Cold War that was much like the old Cold War, President Obama has taken effective steps to renew America’s relationship with Russia.

Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo.

Obama reaches out to Russia

I have yet to see much from the right bearing objection to President Obama’s trip to Russia, which has brought a tentative agreement between the U.S. and Russia to further reduce our huge nuclear weapons stockpiles. The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expires in early December, which would technically leave both nations free to resume building nuclear missiles. According to the Arms Control Association, we in the United States have “5,914 strategic warheads[1], approximately 1,000 operational tactical weapons, and approximately 3,000 reserve strategic and tactical warheads.” That’s 9,914 more than we need.
The agreement between Presidents Medvedev and Obama will not instantly reduce the number of weapons on either side. But it may have restarted the arms reduction process that was halted under what I described as “the New Cold War” that was started by former White House resident George W. Bush. Although President Obama has not wholly moved away from Bush’s missile defense program, he has tried to tell Russia it’s designed to protect against missiles from Iran. I still find that a little suspect, but it seems to be a different stance from Bush’s cowboy bravado. (Até, anyone?)
The power of nuclear weapons and Reagan’s penchant for saber-rattling in the early 80s gave me a deep interest in just who these Russians or Soviets or whatever you called them were and just why we were so opposed to them. One reason I supported Barack Obama’s candidacy was that he represented the first real change from the Cold War mindset that we’ve seen in a major presidential candidate in the past forty years. I knew he could help lead us away from the Strangeloveian blindness that Bush and his cronies were pursuing in the first years of their reign. (Good riddance, Rumsfeld and Cheney!) Much more needs to be done, but Obama’s agreement with the Medvedev-Putin regime is a good start.
Also: The Guardian has a curious cartoon on the Obama-Medvedev agreement.