Russia Conjuring Up Bogeymen

Protecting itself with a high-tech missile defense shield has been an American dream for decades. Now, an agreement between Poland and the U.S. is signed, sealed and delivered. It calls for the stationing of ten defensive missiles against possible attack by so-called rogue states. The missiles are still in the testing stage and whether they’ll ever work remains to be seen. Yet even in the planning stages the project has wrought havoc in Russia. Moscow ran an unsuccessful campaign against the plans and exploited Washington’s coolness to their scenario of an external threat, using it to mobilize their people into a permanent state of emergency.

Moscow’s military doesn’t really fear the missile shield. If push ever came to shove, ten U.S. missiles would face thousands of Russian warheads. Not even the espionage carried out by the Kremlin in the field made a difference: current U.S. monitoring stations are effective enough, according to Russian military experts. As usual, this is about respect and recognition. Russia can’t come to grips with the loss of its role as a superpower. The inclusion of their former satellite states Czechoslovakia and Poland into the American sphere of influence sits especially hard with Russia’s political leaders. It brings home the realization that political weight doesn’t increase along with their petrodollars. Nostalgic Soviet memories continue to have an effect and grow stronger.

We can only hope that the Kremlin doesn’t overstep the mark and enter into a new arms race. Their ramshackle country couldn’t survive that. The fate of the Soviet Union that armed itself to death and collapsed into oblivion when oil prices sank should serve as a warning to them. Creating bogeymen, fostering a fortress mentality and constructing an us-against-them world will only lead to an irresponsible kleptocracy dressed in government’s clothing. To retain power, it will use every opportunity in the west to ensure a state of emergency rather than a state of normalcy.

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