Friday, June 08, 2007

Putin's Russia

We had a great interview with General Al Haig last night. The former Secretary of State under President Reagan and retired four-star general in the United States Army told us the KGB is running Russia with Putin. If General Haig is even nearly right, then that presents a big problem for this country. We have to be tough and smart to deal with it.

One idea he didn’t exactly respond to is that Russia—backed by huge oil profits—is forcing its way back onto the world stage and attempting to be a superpower that it really is not. (Certainly not in economic terms, nor in military terms, but it does have a superpower nuclear arsenal.) However, it looks like one of Putin’s strategies is developing a coalition of “fruits and nuts”—a list that includes Iran, Syria, Venezuela, the Palestinian government, and perhaps North Korea. We also know they’re helping Iran develop their nukes. And they’re stopping the US and her allies from sanctioning Iran and preventing nuke development. All of this is fraught with danger. That’s the bottom line here.

All in all, General Haig did a great job painting this picture. Here’s a portion of what he had to say:

"This is now an issue of a different Russia…It's a Russia that is run by the KGB, who thinks strategically and surreptitiously and dangerously, and will murder at whim. They've murdered every opposition leader they can find, not only at home, but abroad as well. And they are in control of most of the federal republics, even those that are not independent--or that are independent, they're beginning to move in. They're blackmailing every country for energy. They now control a good part of the energy. And Western Europe, for reasons which I can remember quite well, seemed to make the Western Europeans more dependent on the Soviet Union. So they are more dangerous rather than less dangerous.

…They're very well armed with nuclear weapons and very capable long-range nuclear weapons. Their rocketry is somewhat better than ours, in most cases. And we learned that after the wall collapsed and we got in and got an opportunity to see what these liquid fuel systems could do. So we shouldn't be complacent about it, and we've got to keep our own inventory modernized and plentiful. And that's even the case because of the emergence of radical states with nuclear weapons, Iran and North Korea.

The good news is that Russia is equally threatened by these kooks. And so I think Mr. Putin knows, as well as most of us, that the Islamic populations are growing by the day in influence and in radicalism. And so he's got to be a little more cautious than he has been in recent weeks.

At the same time, the president needs the Russians today to deal with Iran, to deal with North Korea and a number of other measures that are necessary to control this Islamic fundamentalist revolution.

…They are more dangerously threatened than many in the West are, because they have these huge populations, which some of our Western Europeans friends have thanks to their own immigration policies. But be that as it may, Putin is no fool. He's the most experienced internationalist they have had running that state since the inception of the revolution. And we've got to watch him. It doesn't mean we have to pick fights with him at a time when we're weak, when we need help, when we are, you know, grievously undermanned in our military capabilities. And I think the next president, whoever he or she may be, is going to have to give that primary, priority attention."