Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Should U.S. Shore Up Shaky Alliance against a Revived Russia?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Should U.S. Shore Up Shaky Alliance against a Revived Russia?

Article excerpt

The first rule of punditry is to present a clear point of view. My formula: Here's what's wrong; here's who's messing up; here's what we should do. No on-the-other-handwringing. Let others take an attitude; I offer certitude.

That comes naturally because I have worked out a mind-set. The fervent furtherance of freedom, international and personal, is its bedrock. That's why I want the United States to be interventionist for human rights abroad and anti-buttinsky at home.

But today I have a conflict of mind-sets. One says: Within the next decade the Russian bear will become strong and hungry and will growl again, so we must strengthen and extend the Western alliance to avert a test by war.

Deep geothinkers like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski support this mind-set with historical sweeps: Russia is authoritarian at heart and expansionist by habit; with its educated population and vast resources - unencumbered by communist baggage - Russia will rise again to superpowerhood and is manifestly destined to look west and south to fill its irredental caries.

If that's true - and a lifetime's hawkish instinct says it is - then we should set aside petty irritations with newly complacent allies in Europe. We should not only maintain our troop strength of 100,000 Americans there, which puts our men and women where our mouth is, but extend NATO membership eastward to countries most likely to be threatened by a revivified Moscow.

That means soon taking in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states - the most westernized nations of Eastern Europe - and ultimately Ukraine as it privatizes. The time to push the protective line eastward is now, while Russia is weak and preoccupied with its own revival, and not later, when such a move would be an insufferable provocation to a superpower.

That inclusion is the direction taken by Clintonites, to the consternation of doves and other isolationists. After flirting for a year with a silly halfway house called a "Partnership for Peace" to fool or pacify the Russians, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is getting serious about making certain the nations most at risk will be brought into NATO and not be up for grabs. …

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