Are Tensions Rising in U.S. – Russia Relationship?
The United States and Russia have always had a love-hate relationship. Back in June 2007, when Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George Bush met at the G8 Annual Summit (a group of eight countries shaping globalization) in Heiligendamm, Germany, people saw sparks fly as Putin compared the United States to Nazi Germany. Putin went as far as to say that the American actions during the Vietnam War were worse than the repressions of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Despite the harsh criticism, President Bush met with Putin and emerged smiling.
Since then, both countries have had another presidential turn, and Russia has taken a newly assertive role on the world stage. In 2008, a violent military conflict between Russia and the Georgian territory of South Ossetia highlighted a growing rift in U.S.-Russian relations. Their growing dispute escalated when Russia accused the United States of meddling in international affairs, and for trying to push political and economic changes in Russia. The United States and the members of NATO, which consist of Germany, Poland and Bulgaria, invited new nations (former Soviet Union nations) to join their alliance, despite Russia’s constant opposition. “The long standing source of tension is that both nations are leading nuclear powers,” explained French Teacher, Matt Ozolnieks. “Right now we are working cooperatively as leaders in nuclear technology and security but some degree of tension is inevitable. This explains some of the reasons we are so interested in their elections.”
In their first meeting in 2009, during a meeting in London, U.S. President Obama and Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev, vowed a “fresh start” in relations. They announced their intention to cooperate on a variety of issues, beginning with negotiations on a new arms control treaty. During their 70-minute conversation, the two presidents were reported to have struck a friendly tone.
As reported by the New York Times, by Helene Cooper, in April 2009, Mr. Obama conceded that there were still issues. “What we’re seeing today is the beginning of new progress in the U.S.-Russian relations,” Mr. Obama said. “And I think that President Medvedev’s leadership is, and has been, critical in allowing that progress to take place.”
“Things seemed to be improving,” said History Secondary Teacher, Steve Mayo. “President Obama and President Medvedev (Putin approved) reached a historical agreement in 2010 on reducing the number of nuclear war heads in each country by a third as long as the U.S. revised its European missile defense program. This was a great start for Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, and it helped relations tremendously.”
However, the recent Russian elections have significantly strained relations. Clinton had criticized last week’s elections (Parliamentary Elections) for being “neither fair, nor free” and hinting at many “irregularities.” Putin (the current Prime Minister) and others have been outraged at the charge. They also accuse the U.S. of encouraging demonstrations of protest.
“Demonstrations have sprung up in over 60 Russian cities and other major cities outside of Russia,” explained Mr. Mayo, who points out that this is also happening in London and in other parts of the world. “Clinton claimed that she does understand the significance of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia, but must maintain the status of the U.S. as an advocate for democracy across the globe. This comes on the back of wiki leaks releases that have had commentary and expressed opinion about U.S.-Russia economic interests. It should be interesting to see what happens.”
Meanwhile, back in Russia, a new kind of political uprising is emerging. People with different ideas are looking to reform a new political party, which intends to regain their top position as a world power. This raises the question: will there be drastic changes in the relationship between the two countries after the 2012 elections in both countries?
“In comparison to the United States model, Russia’s political system is top heavy with more executive power,” said World Geography and American Government Teacher, Ms. Laura Torres. “The fear then, with “irregular” or media biased elections, is that the government could become powerful enough to ignore the needs or best interests of their own citizens, which is something the United States has a history of protecting. In addition, their executive branch has relatively unchecked military control. So, however unlikely the current situation may be, there’s the possibility of a military dictatorship. In light of their nuclear capabilities, we would be wise to keep an eye on Russia.”
While President Medvedev and Prime-Minister Putin are basically in agreement about the advisability of the, so called “reset” of the Russian-U.S. relations that has taken place over the last three years, the much bigger question mark is: what is going to happen in the U.S. elections? If Barak Obama is reelected, then, his administration will basically continue the policy. The Republican administration is a much bigger question mark.
Unlike their more liberal political counterparts, they won’t bow to a country that does not affirm its ideas. Republicans know that Russia is not what it used to be. Its military is now a shadow of its former self. However, they also know that Russia has a friend: China. And China is a totalitarian country that does not share U.S. values and has little respect for the governing policies of other great powers of the world.
What’s more, China supports Iran. They need to protect an economic partner that supplies billions of dollars worth of oil every year. Iran wants to bomb Israel and the rest of the Jewish/Christian world. This could be World War III, and Republicans know that China welcomes it. Simply because they want to dominate at all costs and are not opposed to unleashing hell on earth.