Leadership: Russia Discusses Its Coming War With America


March1, 2007: Russia is preparing for war with the United States and NATO. In theory anyway, according to their new official doctrine. Russia has come up with a new military doctrine, to replace the one published in 2000. Doctrine lets military commanders know what they should be preparing for, if the nation gets involved in a war with what appears to be the most likely opponents. One thing that has not changed between 2000 and 2007 is the official bad guys; it's still America and NATO. Old habits die hard, and Russia still sees itself as under siege by the United States and NATO, and a target for domination by "the West" (America and NATO.)

While this seems absurd to Westerners, it is taken very seriously in Russia. Part of it is the lingering influence of seven decades of communist paranoia regarding the West. While Russia is no longer planning to attack the West (Russia is much too weak for that), they do try and keep the West from expanding to Russias borders. Thus when East European nations began joining NATO and the European Union, the Russians got really upset. This was big news in the Russian media, and the Russian government sent numerous nastygrams westward. Western nations were perplexed by all this hostility, and try to calm the Russians down. This new doctrine shows that the peacemaking effort was not very successful.

In some respects, the new Russian doctrine is useful. It includes government reorganization that now combines military efforts at supporting internal security (especially against terrorism, Islamic or otherwise.) The new doctrine also gives the military better control over key resources (like transportation and fuel). The new doctrine also calls for the West to recognize Russian responsibility for western Eurasia (the Russian "sphere of influence.") This attitude is considered, well, kind of "20th Century" (or even "19th Century") thinking in the West. The U.S. and NATO consider it their responsibility to go anywhere on the planet where there is a threat to the West. Thus the Russians are not happy about NATO troops being in Afghanistan, and other Central Asian nations. Then again, Russia is not willing to help out in Afghanistan, and knows it would not be welcome there (not after killing more than a million Afghans in the 1980s). However, the other nations of Central Asia (mainly the ones that used to be part of the Soviet Union) are more agreeable to being in Russias sphere of influence (and playing Russia off the West in order to gain favors).

East Europe, of course, wants nothing to do with Russia. Half a century of occupation by the Soviet army and secret police is something that will take many generations to forget. The Russians don't seem to get this. Russia believes they were doing the East Europeans a favor. What we have here is a failure to communicate. As for the United States, many Russians are basically not happy about losing the Cold War. Many Russians will come right out and say this, others will just sulk when the subject is raised. Moreover, Russia is still nervous about a aggression from Western Europe, especially Germany and France (two nations that have invaded Russia in the past two centuries.)

China is not identified as an enemy, although most Russians would disagree. But China is a big customer for Russian weapons and technology at the moment, and they are right on the border. Best not to piss them off with too much honesty in the new doctrine document. After all, it is just a piece of paper.




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