Insensitive West Meets Incensed East

While making a tour of what was once Russia’s buffer zone, Defense Secretary (and occasional superhero) Robert M. Gates said Russia should not feel threatened when Eastern European countries strengthen their ties to the West. (Clearly, Gates has not had the benefit of years of therapy or volumes off the self-help shelf; if he had, he would know that words like “should” are verboten, and judging what Russia is or is not feeling is, well, insensitive.)

Gates’ assurances to Bad Vlad and the Mad Ruskies bring to mind other infamous (and not necessarily diplomatic) hollow pledges.

The U.S. is planning to base a radar installation in the Czech Republic and 10 or so interceptor missiles in Poland. These former Warsaw Pact types now are members of Team NATO, former Soviet satellites that look to the West rather than the East these days. The moves, planned for some time, are a part of the U.S. missile defense strategy reportedly to monitor threats from Axis of Evil faves like Iran. The plan has strong NATO backing. (Of course it does.)

Russia is less than pleased and has threatened to place its own missiles in tiny Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. Superhero has said this is a poor way to welcome newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama. (A cringe-worthy comment.)

In his latest remarks, our superhero has had some gosh darn angry words for the Ruskies:

“Russia has nothing to fear from a defensive missile shield or for that matter from the presence of democratic nations on its periphery.”

And …

“Rather than engaging in the kind of rhetoric associated with a bygone era, the United States would prefer that Russia works with us to combat mutual security threats.”

How about …

“Really, darling, the divorce is final.” (OK. Gates didn’t say that, but you know the type.)

If one agrees with Gates that Russia’s concerns are unfounded, then it would be reasonable to assume the U.S. should not feel threatened by the Russians’ recent missile-basing “proposal” or their probable naval base in Libya. How about those military exercises and arms deals with Venezuela and bilateral trade agreements (and more?) with Cuba? So that whole Cuban Missile Crisis way back when was just a silly misunderstanding, and the U.S. felt unnecessarily threatened.

Here’s the pressing question: If the Ruskies base aircraft and missiles outside Havana, should we send them a fruit basket, flowers or a GPS?

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