Exit Strategies

Bear Baiting, Part XXLM

The WSJ opinion page has always made it clear that any Western recognition of Russian regional interests is tantamount to donning a top-hat and declaring Peace For Our Time. In that spirit, Heritage analyst Ariel Cohen's recent piece strikes a fittingly alarmist tone regarding France's planned sale of possibly four Mistral-class vessels to Moscow. In a twist of irony, the neocons' favorite Frenchman, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been receptive to Russian inquiries for purchasing the ship. The Mistral is designed for amphibious operations and can house helicopters, landing craft and up to 900 troops. The carrier would be a qualitative addition to Russian naval capabilities, provided that the appropriate adjustments in doctrine were made.

The potential for a Mistral purchase by the Kremlin indicates a sensible formulation of strategic priorities -- Moscow is concerning itself with its "near abroad," such as the neighborhoods of the Baltic and Black seas, to secure interests near and dear and head off any further encroachment by the U.S. and NATO. This, of course, is too much for Cohen, who still pushes hard for Ukraine and Georgia's entry into the liberty-loving Open Society that is the modern West. If Tbilisi and Kiev can't join the Euro-Atlantic Community (and needlessly antagonize Moscow into conflict), then be warned of dark days ahead. Washington's favorite ongoing energy projects like Nabucco will be toast, and the Kremlin's Northern Fleet will once again menace the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap, just like good old times.

Unfortunately our policy elite has no capacity for self-reflection. Russia seeks regional power-projection capabilities to defend a reasonable sphere of interests. Washington, meanwhile, will soon deploy Patriot Missile batteries in Poland and has also enlisted Romania and Bulgaria into its anti-missile defense architecture, which coincidentally consists of U.S. military assets along Moscow's European periphery. To top it off, the Pentagon is moving forward with a weapons program known as "Prompt Global Strike." Hypersonic precision-guided munitions could be delivered in record time anywhere the Commander-in-Chief might choose. So ignore the Empire's quest for full-spectrum dominance across the entire planet- the revanchist Russians are buying helicopter carriers.