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Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Old 08-09-13, 07:53 PM
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Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

So things are getting a little tense over several issues. I think the latest dust up is over the Snowden thing, but I wonder if things are now worse than before Obama came into office and we had our glorious "reset" with Russia on foreign relations?

Obama laments 'backward' Russian thinking

WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama said Friday he was reassessing the relationship with Russia because of a growing number of issues on which the two countries differ, and he lamented what he called his mixed success in trying to convince Russian leader Vladimir Putin to abandon a Cold War mentality.

At a news conference while senior officials from the U.S. and Russia put a brave face on badly strained relations between Washington and Moscow, Obama said Putin's return to the Kremlin last year had brought about "more rhetoric on the Russian side that was anti-American, that played into some of the old stereotypes about the Cold War contest between the United States and Russia."

"I've encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward as opposed to backwards on those issues, with mixed success," he told reporters two days after cancelling a planned September summit with Putin. The cancellation was a rare and pointed diplomatic snub over U.S. unhappiness with Russia granting asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a move that exacerbated already deep differences between Washington and Moscow on other matters.

"I think the latest episode is just one more in a number of emerging differences that we've seen over the last several months around Syria, around human rights issues where, you know, it is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we're doing things that are good for the United States and, hopefully, good for Russia," Obama said.

He added that no one could hope for 100 percent agreement and that differences could not be completely disguised. But he said U.S.-Russian cooperation is important.

"We're going to assess where the relationship can advance U.S. interests and increase peace and stability and prosperity around the world," Obama said. "Where it can, we're going to keep on working with them, where we have differences, we're going to say so clearly. And my hope is that, over time, Mr. Putin and Russia recognize that rather than a zero-sum competition, in fact, if the two countries are working together, we can probably advance the betterment of both peoples."

Obama's comments came shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrapped up talks with their Russian counterparts that were intended to try to repair some of the damage caused by the differences.

Kerry allowed that U.S.-Russia ties had been complicated by "the occasional collision" and "challenging moments." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also acknowledged the fractious state of the relationship but called on both sides to act like "grown-ups," saying that's how Moscow wants to handle the differences.

Both men maintained that U.S-Russian cooperation on even limited areas of shared concern is important.

"The relationship between the United States and Russia is, needless to say, a very important relationship, and it is marked by both shared interests and, at times, colliding and conflicting interests and, I think, we are all very clear-eyed about that," Kerry said.

Noting that he and Lavrov are both former ice hockey players, Kerry said that they understood "that diplomacy, like hockey, can sometimes result in the occasional collision, so we're candid, very candid, about the areas in which we agree but also the areas in which we disagree."

"It's no secret that we have experienced some challenging moments and obviously not just over the Snowden case," he said. "We will discuss these differences today, for certain, but this meeting remains important above and beyond the collisions and moments of disagreement."

Russia has minced no words in expressing its disappointment that Obama cancelled the summit, and Lavrov made it clear that Moscow had been prepared to sign agreements on trade and nuclear research and security had it gone ahead.

"At least we in Russia were prepared to table our proposals to the two presidents," Lavrov said.

"Of course, we have disagreements. We'll continue discussing matters on which we disagree calmly and candidly," he said. "We need to work as grown-ups. And this is what we do. And we hope that this will be reciprocal."

U.S.-Russia discord had been simmering since Putin regained the Russian presidency more than a year ago.

On returning to power, he adopted a deeply nationalistic and more openly confrontational stance toward the United States than the man he had chosen to succeed him as president in 2008, Dmitry Medvedev, whose tenure roughly overlapped Obama's first term in the White House.

The U.S. is upset about Moscow's backing of President Bashar Assad in Syria's civil war. The two nations also have been at odds over Russia's domestic crackdown on civil rights, a U.S. missile defense plan for Europe, trade, global security, human rights and American adoptions of Russian children.

Associated Press writer Tom Raum contributed to this report.

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Old 08-09-13, 08:00 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

IMO, his mentioning of Syria, human rights issues, etc. are a smokescreen. The administration is incensed that Russia granted Snowden asylum. He's a huge black eye to the White House and they see the asylum as Russia twisting the knife. If they had told Snowden to shove off, the meeting wouldn't have been canceled.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:01 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Things are far worse, with virtually no Russian cooperation on almost any vital issue.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:03 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Pharoh View Post
Things are far worse, with virtually no Russian cooperation on almost any vital issue.
So it's basically the Cold War 2.0? Russia is not the power it once was (neither is the US though).
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Old 08-09-13, 08:04 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

I did like Obama's schoolboy comment about the thug Putin though.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:05 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
So it's basically the Cold War 2.0? Russia is not the power it once was though (neither is the US though).
Russia most certainly is not, and part of the problem is that we still approach them as if they do.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:07 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Pharoh, one thing I've learned from you is that nations will do what is in their best interests. Obviously Russia believes blocking the US every chance they get is in their interests. What can be done to make them "play ball?"
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Old 08-09-13, 08:07 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

I agree, Pharoh. Russia was gutted by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Putin has turned it into his own personal fiefdom, with backing from the mob. It's more of a practical threat than North Korea, but it is nowhere near as big of a deal as China.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:16 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
Pharoh, one thing I've learned from you is that nations will do what is in their best interests. Obviously Russia believes blocking the US every chance they get is in their interests. What can be done to make them "play ball?"
By putting more pressure on them, stop worrying about appeasing them, and foster closer ties with others in the region. Think Poland and Georgia.

Obviously it isn't that simple, but it a better approach than what the administration has tried.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:19 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

One other comment, and touches on what Supermallet said: how much of their actions have truly been in their best interests versus in the best interests as Putin singularly perceives them?
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Old 08-09-13, 08:20 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

The problem is at this point Russia's self-interest and Putin's self-interest are indivisible.

I would say if you want better relations with Russia you should assassinate Putin, but power vacuums like that generally don't end well.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:23 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

One thing that U.S. media isn't reporting is that granting asylum to whistle blowers and especially those accused of espionage is both standard practice and a moral duty for any sovereign nation.

The most influential media in the United States has lived up to its pro-government bias in the Snowden Affair in three major ways: firstly, by consistently referring to Snowden by the demeaning designation of 'leaker' rather than as 'whistleblower' or 'surveillance dissident,' both more respectful and accurate.

Secondly, they are completely ignoring the degree to which Russia's grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country, and pursued diplomatically and legally by the government that is seeking to indict and prosecute. In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.

Thirdly, the media's refusal to point out that espionage, the main accusation against Snowden, is the quintessential 'political offense' in international law, and as such is routinely excluded from any list of extraditable offenses. That is, even if there had been an extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, it should have been made clear that there was no legal duty on Russia's part to turn Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.

If these elements had been clearly articulated, the United States government would have seemed ridiculous if it complained about the willingness of some foreign governments to give Snowden asylum.
Basically, Russia lived up to it's legal and moral obligations to the international community by granting asylum to a political whistle-blower. Consider how ridiculous Putin would look if he was demanding that the U.S. extradite a Russian whistle-blower! For some reason, the White House is spinning this into an insult and retaliating while the U.S. media is letting them do this. It does remind me a bit of "Wag the Dog" for some reason.

If there's a cold war brewing, it's being started by the U.S..

Last edited by Locomocha; 08-09-13 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:26 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
The problem is at this point Russia's self-interest and Putin's self-interest are indivisible.

I would say if you want better relations with Russia you should assassinate Putin, but power vacuums like that generally don't end well.
I agree. My point only was that I don't know how rationale of an actor he actually is.

Except of course when it comes to lining his and his cronies pockets.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:34 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Locomocha View Post
One thing that U.S. media isn't reporting is that granting asylum to whistle blowers is both standard practice and a moral duty for any sovereign nation.



Basically, Russia lived up to it's legal and moral obligations to the international community by granting asylum to a political whistle-blower. Consider how ridiculous Putin would look if he was demanding that the U.S. extradite a Russian whistle-blower! For some reason, the White House is spinning this into an insult and retaliating while the U.S. media is letting them do this. It does remind me a bit of "Wag the Dog" for some reason.

If there's a cold war brewing, it's being started by the U.S..
Snowden took classified documentation about a program that is, by all accounts, being operated in line with Congressionally passed legislation and subject to judicial oversight, and he disclosed those classified documents to the press rather than a Congressional inspector or the OIG. That is not whistleblowing by any stretch of the imagination.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:36 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Snowden took classified documentation about a program that is, by all accounts, being operated in line with Congressionally passed legislation and subject to judicial oversight, and he disclosed those classified documents to the press rather than a Congressional inspector or the OIG. That is not whistleblowing by any stretch of the imagination.
If it's not whistle-blowing or espionage (also covered by non-refoulment), what is it?
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Old 08-09-13, 08:37 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Pharoh View Post
I agree. My point only was that I don't know how rationale of an actor he actually is.

Except of course when it comes to lining his and his cronies pockets.
I would say that he is as much of a rational actor as we can expect for a despot.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:38 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Locomocha View Post
Basically, Russia lived up to it's legal and moral obligations to the international community by granting asylum to a political whistle-blower. Consider how ridiculous Putin would look if he was demanding that the U.S. extradite a Russian whistle-blower! For some reason, the White House is spinning this into an insult and retaliating while the U.S. media is letting them do this. It does remind me a bit of "Wag the Dog" for some reason.

If there's a cold war brewing, it's being started by the U.S..
When Putin says stuff like this, he can't fully suppress a giggle.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:42 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Snowden took classified documentation about a program that is, by all accounts, being operated in line with Congressionally passed legislation and subject to judicial oversight, and he disclosed those classified documents to the press rather than a Congressional inspector or the OIG. That is not whistleblowing by any stretch of the imagination.
From Wikipedia:
A whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower) is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).
Trying to classify Snowden as not a legitimate whistleblower is a tactic being used by the administration to justify their outrageous treatment of him.
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Old 08-09-13, 09:04 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
From Wikipedia:


Trying to classify Snowden as not a legitimate whistleblower is a tactic being used by the administration to justify their outrageous treatment of him.
Whether you believe snowden is a "whistleblower" in the more general sense or not is largely irrelevant.

Per the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act he is not one, and that is all that matters in this particular instance.

Our resident UofC legal scholar got it right, again.


ETA: Despite what I think about the surveillance programs, I still think snowden is a no hero, and likely is a traitor out for personal gain and nothing more.
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Old 08-09-13, 09:08 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Personal gain being exiled to Russia?
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Old 08-09-13, 09:12 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Pharoh View Post
By putting more pressure on them, stop worrying about appeasing them, and foster closer ties with others in the region. Think Poland and Georgia.

Obviously it isn't that simple, but it a better approach than what the administration has tried.
I guess you believe that in western Europe Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are the go to power players.
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Old 08-09-13, 09:13 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by Supermallet View Post
Personal gain being exiled to Russia?
I didn't say he was psychic. Or for that matter, particularly bright. Besides, who knows what motivates him. Perhaps it is simply all the attention.
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Old 08-09-13, 09:17 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Originally Posted by arminius View Post
I guess you believe that in western Europe Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are the go to power players.

Sure, why not.


Of course, they were both references to instances where the Administration failed to live up to our ideals, (and our commitments), in an effort to appease Russia and "reset" our relations.
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Old 08-09-13, 09:45 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

If you were running the show, what is the last thing you want the U.S. public talking about with regards to this mess? If they're talking about the evils of Russia and Putin, you're doing just grand. Talk about whether or not Snowden is a whistle-blower or a dirty, rotten, stinking, traitor is also much preferable to the very *last* thing you want them talking about. There's not much talk about that last thing here, surprisingly.
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Old 08-09-13, 10:24 PM
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Re: Are the US and Russia in a "cool war?"

Legalizing pot?
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