TCS Daily

Bush Has Good Hand to Play in Upcoming Meeting with Putin

By Ken Adelman - June 12, 2001 12:00 AM

Since time immemorial, the tools of international politics have been a) logic, b) bribes, and c) force.

This Saturday in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Bush can effectively advance the cause of missile defense and nicely blend the three by:
  • making the logical points that the ABM Treaty structure has become a relic of the Cold War which can now be safely scrapped, and that Russia has more real need for missile defense than America;
  • holding out bribes that U.S.-Russia technical cooperation can develop the only areas of a developed economy Russia has - those in metallurgy, air defense systems, sensors, and other remnants of its once-mighty military-industrial complex;
  • implying force that the U.S. will proceed with missile defense with or without Russian cooperation.
"With," however, is far preferable.

Two years ago, this seemed impossible. After Don Rumsfeld briefed experts on the findings of his ballistic missile commission, we discussed the possibility of U.S.-Russian cooperation. He was hopeful, while I was dismissive.

Two years hence, I've come to believe that Rumsfeld made the better case. Clinging to the ABM Treaty structure gives Russia nothing except nodding approval from European elites and American liberals who are locked in the mental construct of Mutual Assured Destruction.

It makes Putin fashionable in the parlors of Brussels and Georgetown, but what does that do?

Entering a cooperative relationship with Bush on ballistic missiles assures a cooperative relationship with the United States. It's always preferable to be on better terms with the Administration in power than those out.

Objectively, Russia faces more hostile neighbors and rogue states within easy range of ballistic missile attacks than America. Its objective need for that capability exceeds ours.

Moreover, technical sharing of advanced scientific information surrounding the missile defense challenge can help Russian industry more than it would ours. Russian industry needs an infusion of money and projects. Our industry could use - but does not absolutely "need" - the technical expertise Russian scientists retain.

Last, Putin can consider whether America should build a missile defense a) with Russian cooperation, or b) with Russian opposition. If it's going to happen, he can figure, better be part of the project than left in its wake.

If President Bush handles his session well by making points along such lines, Saturday's meeting can be the most productive such summit since Reykjavik in October 1986, which similarly focused on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.

Russian cooperation on missile defense, beginning this week, would undercut the resistance of other NATO countries and American liberals to protecting our nation, friends, and allies against a serious threat in the future.


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