The Obama-oids aren’t talking too much about foreign policy these days, although that was their candidate’s ticket to the White House. Iraq was the winning issue that gave Obama’s primary campaign the oomph it needed to oust the putative front-runner from her perch as the anointed one, but it fails to evoke the interest it once did on account of the rapid deterioration of the economy. It doesn’t matter that the costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars amount to at least three more bank bailouts — and you can throw in what’s left of the American auto industry for good measure.
For all the focus on domestic politics and economics, the rest of the world has a way of intruding without much regard for our schedule or context. The announcement of Obama’s victory was still reverberating globally, amid a chorus of media-hyped hosannas, when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a speech in which Obama was not so much as alluded to: instead, the stern-faced successor to Vladimir Putin delivered a tongue-lashing in which he described the global financial crisis as having started as "a local extraordinary event in the U.S. markets," the result of "erroneous, egotistical, and sometimes even dangerous decisions by some members of the global community," i.e., the West. This was prefaced by a declaration that "to neutralize — if necessary — the anti-missile system, an Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region. Naturally, we also consider using for the same purpose the resources of Russia’s navy."
The "anti-missile system" Medvedev is here referring to is an untested and quite expensive new weapon being marketed to our Eastern European NATO partners, with huge profits for U.S. manufacturers. The old Committee to Expand NATO was basically a front for these interests. Their victory in getting the former Warsaw Pact admitted to the club was sweetened by the agreement to install the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which means billions for the U.S. arms industry, the only sector that’s prospering in these hard times. It also marks the crowning provocation of a whole series of hostile acts aimed at the Kremlin, which Medvedev had no choice but to reply to in the way he did.
The Medvedev speech wasn’t very good public relations, at least in the West, but the Russians are less concerned about what the editorial page of the Washington Post has to say on the subject than what to say to their own people as the West draws nearer to the Kremlin’s very doorstep. Shielded behind a sophisticated, albeit untested, anti-missile system, NATO forces stationed in Poland could take out Moscow in minutes. No Russian government can permit that condition to long endure.
What we know of Obama’s views on Russia are not encouraging. In his infomercial, he vowed to "curb Russian aggression." This was a reference to the Russo-Georgian war, which John McCain made the signature issue of his foreign policy stance, and Obama joined with the Republican candidate in condemning Russian "aggression."
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.