Saying and Doing

Ben Smith, usually confined to writing on political non-stories, has a write up on an emerging foreign policy challenge for Obama: Russia. There’s a fair amount of foreign policy related stuff covered in the story, but I wanted to focus on this:

On the day after he won the election, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered an aggressive warning that he would respond to a planned NATO anti-missile shield by moving nuclear weapons to its western enclave of Kaliningrad. And the sword-rattling has continued: Tuesday, the Russian navy began joint exercises near Caracas with Venezuela’s military.

Gary Schmitt of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute predictably suggests that yielding on the missile defense shield would be read as a “sign of backing down,” but it’s important to remember the expansion of the shield was a needless provocation by the Bush Administration in response Russian retaliation in Georgia, and what’s more, doesn’t even work. There’s been a lot of talk about how reversing the Bush policies and this seems like a perfect opportunity to forge a cooperative relationship with the Russians, who have the capacity to play a key role in nuclear disarmament and engagement with Iran.

UPDATE: The story also deals with Obama’s views on NATO enlargement, which I think to be a pretty bad idea at the moment. Here’s why.

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