Friday, August 3, 2007

Options, Part III: The Fundamental Question

Ultimately one must consider the nature of the Russian regime. In spite of a democratic veneer, the Kremlin retains an iron grip over the media and industry of Russia. The Federal Security Service (Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB), successor to the KGB, is wholly unreformed and incompatible with democracy. It should come as no surprise then that such a regime is instinctively suspicious, both of its own people and of outsiders, however well-meaning they may be. Nor should we be surprised by the deceptive and uncooperative way the Russians have gone about dealing with CTR. So long as the Russian regime remains what it is, expecting good-faith cooperation on nonproliferation is probably wishful thinking.

Working to affect change in the Russian political arena may sound bold or even extreme; it is, however, completely consonant with stated US national security goals. The 2006 National Security Strategy argues
We must encourage Russia to respect the values of freedom and democracy at home.
In the document’s basic principles it explains that
Because democracies are the most responsible members of the international system, promoting democracy is the most effective long-term measure for strengthening international stability; reducing regional conflicts; countering terrorism and terror-supporting extremism; and extending peace and prosperity.
Thus, long-term efforts could be directed at increasing openness and ending the corrupt and conspiratorial ways that plague the Russian government. Then, and only then, can we reasonably talk about working with the Russians to keep their biological and chemical weapons stockpiles out of the hands of terrorists.

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