Baloney in Bratislava


President Bush and Russian President Putin seemed to get along famously last Thursday in Bratislava.  And at their post—meeting press conference, President Bush was visibly pleased when Putin stated publicly that Russia's choice of democracy will never be reversed. 

Unfortunately, there is no connection between what Putin says and what he does. In the last few years he has steadily eroded Russia's democracy; today that country is, in fact, the only major country that is less democratic today than it was when President Bush took office in January 2001.  And Putin's recent decisions to go ahead with its sale of anti—aircraft missiles to Syria, and to provide technical help to Iran for what Putin calls that country's nuclear 'energy' program, have put Russia on a collision course with the US.

When the post—summit euphoria fades — I give it a week —— US—Russia relations will continue to worsen.   It's unlikely that the US and Russia are heading toward a second Cold War; despite its nuclear arsenal, Russia today is just too weak to sustain that sort of long—term global standoff.  My guess is that Russia in the coming months will move to align itself more closely with countries like Germany and France, and will work with them to oppose the US however they can, diplomatically and economically. 

No longer a world menace, Russia under Putin is on its way to becoming merely another big pain in the rear end.

Herb Meyer   2 26 05