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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Russia and the US: Can the love affair last?
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Russia and the US have signed a landmark deal that slashes the two countries' nuclear arsenal by two thirds.
The deal was signed during a visit to Moscow by US President George Bush, and has been hailed by the Americans as banishing the legacy of the Cold War.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also secured an expanded role for his country in Nato, the West's defensive alliance.
But there is disquiet in Russian political and military circles about what they see as getting too close to the West.
Some expect a backlash if Russia's economy fails or if Mr Putin's star declines.
Is the Cold War really over? Can Russia ever be an ally of the US and the West?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The end of the Cold War has been announced more times than the sale of the Millennium Dome. Given that people keep feeling the need to say it is over, it must still be ongoing. Either that, or else Americans and Russians need more persuading than anyone else.
Putin is just a pragmatist. Russia is too poor to find its own way and an alliance with the west is more attractive than siding with the likes of China and Iraq. Russia needs America much more than America needs Russia. Good for Putin that he knows this and is not too proud to play along with Bush.
I think that the recent warmth shown in the USA-Russia relationship, and especially in the Bush and Putin personal relationship is a solid although small step in the much larger relationship that is yet to come. Russians and Americans need to become more intimate through further trade and continued diplomacy before the world starts to feel confident or frightened in their closeness. The relationship has barely scratched the surface of what it can become. It seems right now that it's a bit overblown.
As long as Russia & USA have an Islamic fundamentalist "problem" to deal with, they'll be the best of buddies.
Vasya Ivanov,Novgorod, Russia
I believe the Russians, like the Chinese, are honourable people who have a lot to contribute to the world of the future. These countries have rich cultural pasts. The main problems with their countries' poor image in the west is that they have been poorly represented and run by a series of leaders in the 20th century. Hopefully, as democratic systems increase, there will be a chance of getting someone who can do proper job of running the country and not just another dictator looking out for themselves.
How anyone can take US foreign policy seriously when the country as a whole still clings to ageing ideas and refuses solidly to move in a changing world. The land of liberty, that was once so progressive in its legislation and attitudes has slid into total social stagnation and conservative views. The war on terror is nothing more than a giant overreaction, which has cost a fortune and killed many thousands of people to no benefit whatsoever. The US should seriously reconsider all its policies, and essentially its entire standpoint before any relationships with anywhere in the world can continue productively.
Nothing last forever, so the U.S, Russian will change and there will always be flux. After all, it was Disraeli who said, nations just have interests.
After the attacks of September 11th on New York and Washington, a new bond has emerged between Russia and the US. Both parties now understand what terrorism in their own backyards mean. Chechnya, in the case of Russia, and the Al-Qaeda, in the case of the US. A new threat, in the form of terrorism, has finally brought two former foes together. Before the attacks, the countries were at loggerheads over Mr. Bush's missile defence shield.
Russia was suspicious of the true intentions of this programme and in general Mr. Bush's focus on strengthening the US without caring much for the rest of the world. Now Russia and the US, instead of fighting each other, are fighting a common enemy, both are finally thinking on the same wavelength and trust between the two is growing. Under this backdrop, the recent signing of the disarmament treaty and the new friendship between the two looks set to blossom and remain firm in the future.
Having returned from Russia in August last year after a year-long student exchange program, I got the impression that the younger generation in Russia seems to warm more towards the US more so than the older generation. This is, in my opinion, due to the fact that American businesses are getting into the Russian market more and more and providing Russian teenagers with an image of a country perhaps better than there own. The older Russians seem to me to be more sceptical and weary when it comes to relations with the USA. Most teenagers, on the other hand, want to do well in school, learn English, and prosper in the West because they don't see Russia as having much of a future.
It's certainly nice living in a multi-polar world, but not at the expense of peace and common sense. This country used to challenge the American global dominance. Those days are gone, and good riddance to them; I don't miss living in a poor empire. The US is not the worst choice for projecting global dominance, but I think it would be a good idea for Russia and Europe to team up now and then, and make sure it doesn't fall too deeply in love with itself.
I really don't believe that the US and Russia can be anything other than "just friends and brave enemies" because Americans love their allies as long as they" stay in there" place." Meaning that Americans want to run things their way without any input from the outside. The Romans had this attitude. Americans are the New Romans.
Democracy, along with economic opportunities, is the way Russia must go. What is present now isn't democracy. In order for the real thing to come along and thrive, their must be responsibility on the part of the government to insure that the laws are applied equally or not at all. Stop the corruption; cease stealing from their own people, don't tolerate this from those that do, etc; then you will have the makings of a just society. If not, then you will become like us. So live with the consequences.
The ones that see the US-Russia friendship as an everlasting achievement are absolutely ignorant about geopolitics. Every powerful and developed nation's government, including the UK's, knows that there are no "friends forever" in this matter. Did you really think that Bush wants Putin to go and play in the garden for fun? It's all about economic and security interests.
Peter Nelson, Boston, US
Russia, along with many other proud and original countries, is falling for the American dollar. America has always has its own interests at heart, and every other countries interests are secondary.
The end of the Cold War gave a sense of security in world politics as the Soviets were all but weakened. There is a new wave of insecurity in terrorism.
To achieve security in the whole sense of the term we ought to make more friends than enemies. Russia remains an influential player in world politics and by co-operating with them we eradicate the differences that thwarted world security in the past. Unless we engage with Russia and the rest of the world, we will see some of these threats re-emerging.
Benjamin, Osaka, Japan
Russia commands immense respect on the diplomatic field, whilst American commands immense respect on the battlefield. If the two can cement an intimate friendship, it can only help to further stabilise the world.
Arjang Arya, Hayes, UK
America and Russia have more to gain from mutual understanding than they do with continued disdain.
At the moment, America is in position to aid Russia and could easily help them rebuild their economy. America doesn't want certain technology to fall into, for example, China's hands. That isn't a selfish desire, it would not only safeguard the Americans, but everyone else. So it would be only logical that Russia develop a closer relationship with the US. They have more to gain in being our allies, as do the Americans of Russia, than they would in being
Russia has nothing to fear from the States, other than McDonalds.
The Cold War in the old sense is certainly over. However, I think that the present US-Russia friendship is rather logical than sincere. US needs Russian oil, vast market and stable military ally. Russia is undergoing a major historical transformation during which old values and principles are re-evaluated and major lessons learned. Russia realizes that it has to learn from the West right now to become strong and powerful again. How long this learning period will continue is the only question.
Andrew, Moscow, Russia
Both relations inside Nato and relations with Russia are being redefined. There should be no reason to long for the "good old days of stability", i.e. the Cold War.
Relations between the EU and America may not be as close as they used to be, but differences in approach, and priorities, should not let us forget what we have in common, and that some solidarity has served all of us well, on both sides of the Atlantic. Pitching about differences is useless. Let's cooperate, where there is common ground, and be tolerant, where our choices differ.
I salute both presidents (Russian and US) who want to stop the spread of terrorism around the world, and our responsibility as a people is to stand united and support these leaders, trust and believe in the best of the future.
I think it's a good thing that world leaders continue to visit and talk to each other, despite the thinly veiled self-interest objectives and general posturing. The more our leaders travel and talk to other leaders the more they will find that we all share common goals. More of our politicians and administrators should be around travelling and talking to people and colleagues on a regular basis. Free and open communication between nations is a necessity in our global village.
I think that as our once great country welcomes one of the most powerful men in the world, we must take stock and decide whether we really want to go the same way as America. McDonalds is now a reality here, but we regret its presence very much. Long live socialism!
John, Ohio, USA
I think the US's stance presently is far too defiant and belligerent to serve anything but redundant and atavistic ideals. The US is feeding terrorism with the kind of response that has dragged world peace into the worst crisis since the Cold War. Europe should not unconditionally acquiesce. On the contrary, it should deflate the surge of radicalism by pressing on in its efforts to enable different races and creeds to live, if not in peace with, at least in tolerance of each other.
As a true Russian I believe that Russia must rise up to its true potential as the great nation it is, and not kiss up to the US.
The special relationship was extremely useful during World War II and the rebuilding of Europe afterwards. However, now it may only be debilitating to the expansion of the EU as a whole and the UK especially. I believe it's time that the EU moved on to independent thinking with the US as an ally rather than a mentor/watchdog.
I think there is a huge danger in being too closely associated with the US. The US is currently in an extremely aggressive and bullyish mood - both in terms of foreign policy and trade, and there needs to
be some kind of voice of reason and balance out there. The Bush administration is McCarthyist in its use of paranoia and patriotism to remove dissent - such a thing must be considered a poison to those committed to free speech and justice.
Sundar, New York, USA
There is no special relationship between the US and Europe, and there never has been. The real special relationship exists between the US and Britain, along with Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This is because there are common histories, social, and language ties.
In the light of current events and the probability that we shall be involved in a new war in the Middle East in the near future, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a United States of Europe to act as a countervailing force to American hegemony?
I think we are giving away a bit
too much solidarity and
kindness to Americans.
In the Middle East,
Europeans are seen as more
reasonable compared to the
the Arabs are looking towards Europe
as an unbiased mediator toward
the Palestinian issue.
Quentin Holt, New Zealand
It is very difficult to determine whether the Cold War is actually over because my understanding of disarmament does not actually mean destruction. There is a spirit of co-operation and trust which must be good for the US and the Russia in eliminating any threat. The treaty of Moscow concluded today is bound to help futuristic governments of the super-powers in at least controlling the stock of arsenals but what about reactors being sold to Iran from Russia which has become quite easily the number one threat of nuclear proliferation to the world?
Other countries acquiring rockets such as Taiwan goes against the goodwill of this pact agreement but so to does the building of power stations in North Korea by the US. It does echo sentiments of hypocrisy when other off-the-hand deals are being made elsewhere. The threat might not come directly from the US/Russia anymore but what about these other countries stock-piling directly from the US and Russia? It is very difficult to see all lines of demarcation fragmented in allowing Russia to 'join-up' forces with the West, when the main priority has always to be vested interests by national governments in their own security.
The US and Europe have always pursued foreign policies that are in their own interests. The difference now is that these interests are not as closely linked as they were. If there ever was a special relationship it ended with the Cold War. We still have much in common but any European (such as Tony Blair) who thinks we should unconditionally support the US, is naive and should consider the interests of their own country first.
There has never been a special relationship at political level. Every country is only interested in itself and what others can do FOR it. I wish this myth would disappear.
The relationship between the US and the EU will always be strained because the EU, even in times when the far right appear to gain support, will always endorse all manner of socialist ideology not compatible with US politics. We are somewhere in the middle and I suggest we make choices as to who we want to buddy up with as supporting both will be a tricky balancing act. If our loyalty should ever fall completely with the US, then I would move to the EU. Nothing against Americans but I think we have enough rubbish of our own to contend with.
I believe that the current tension between EU and the US is only representative of a small, yet vocal, portion of our society. The vast majority of Americans and Europeans have no hostility towards each other. Perhaps it is time to listen to the majority who wish to work together towards common goals instead of focusing on the minority who consistently wish for dissension and chaos.
Michael Z, United States
The irony for Bush is that many of his unilateral policies, such as steel tariffs and agriculture subsidies also make voters in America angry. These policies were designed to appease very narrow political pressure groups and fly in the face of his own party's free-trade philosophy as well as US public opinion.
Ronald Vopel, Belgium
I don't have much hope that Bush is going to make the world a safer place. The special relationship under Bush appears to have been, "Great if you're with us but we don't care if you're not."
I believe most Europeans are aware that is America's Middle Eastern foreign policy that caused the tragedy on 11 September, while most Americans are not aware of this. And since US foreign policy is directed more by Tel Aviv than Washington, very few Europeans will follow any policies not in their own best interests. I also doubt if Europeans wish to create a billion people to hate which is the sad legacy that our foreign policies have given us.
Bush is not well liked in Europe. People think he is stupid, especially the youth and students. As Europeans are not patriotic to US, most do not agree with his "war on terror", and although he may gain support from leaders, the people of Europe will never fall for it.
My concern is that Britain is becoming a puppet pulled and cajoled by both sides. America is right to say that Europe is anti-Semitic, and Europe is right to say that America is arrogant. I don't much like the prospect of either one. And neither side will ever truly resolve their personal issues, no matter how much the German leader bows and smiles at Bush like a humble servant.
So the US acts in its own interests...unlike France of course, which is purely altruistic. Note the EU agricultural policy or refusal to deregulate the energy market. All countries are out for what they can get. France just tries to hide them as European interests rather than purely French interests.
I am really rather irritated at the European attitude towards the US. While we are not perfect, we certainly are trying to rid the world of a common enemy - terrorists! It is a very frustrating thing to see Americans being bashed by the various countries of the world only to have these same countries screaming for help when they are being attacked and their people/governments under siege... Maybe we SHOULD leave the Europeans to fend for themselves.
I believe that the current tension between EU and the US is only representative of a small, yet vocal, portion of our society. The vast amount of Americans and Europeans have no hostility towards each other. Perhaps it is time to listen to the majority who wish to work together towards common goals instead of focusing on the minority who consistently wish for dissension and chaos.
I ask Europeans and myself, where is the proof to pass such judgement? I believe that the only reason for the US to criticise Cuba is that Cuba has been the only non-capitalist country that has not bent to their will. Moreover, Mr Bush's tough stand on Cuba is probably triggered by the fact that his brother Jeb Bush is seeking re-election. We all know Florida is full of Cuban-Americans that represent potential voters.
Those exiles would love to take a bite out of Castro and the Cuban people in the island. I would be insulting Europeans' intelligence if I were to re-count the endless list of biased, shallow, corrupt, preferential, selfish and unscrupulous foreign policies that the US has dictated in its entire history as a nation. If you ask me, I find revolting, despicable, biased, opportunistic and despotic the majority of US foreign policies. i.e. Vietnam, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Yugoslavia, the list goes on!
What 'special relationship'? Since Bush, the American administration has gone out of its way to alienate its European partners and antagonise its rivals. The Bush administration is very selfish and I do not support any of their actions.
The longer the Bush administration is in power the more anti-American and pro-European I become.
I hope our politicians will tell Bush that we won't be treated like mugs when it comes to America's selfish policies. We in Britain, and Europe in general will stand up for our own interests just as much as America does for herself.
Special relationship? Well, what good can anyone expect from a country whose leader has a cowboy mentality, talks as if he addresses farm boys, (''Smoke the bad folks out'') shoots first and then asks questions and is responsible for thousands of deaths i.e. ''collateral damage'' in Afghanistan! Can any European feel that we have anything in common with such... folks??
As Europeans we have experienced first-hand two world wars and countless small skirmishes between our nations for centuries. We (I am speaking as a European) are therefore better placed to understand the consequence of war and the time it takes to mend wounds. Europe has learned to live in harmony and we have, through time, patience and mutual understanding, been able to forge an unbreakable union together.
It is now time for this union to come of age, to stand up to the US and to show it how to behave towards others. It is time for Great Britain to behave as a true bulldog and bite the heels of Uncle Sam and not pander to him like a pathetic pink poodle. To make him understand will not be easy.
Continental Europe, France in particular, has historically always been against the English-speaking countries which it sees as undermining its own culture. The problem for the UK is that our main trade partners are countries with which we have little else in common. Bush's pro-US stance will undoubtedly cause a rift with Europe, but the question is just how badly Britain will be affected. I suspect that, sooner or later, we will have to decide whose side we are really on.
Being a Canadian, I favour a strong relationship between the US and Europe. Maybe you guys can talk some sense into them.
The so-called special relationship between the EU (specifically the UK) and the US is most definitely not working, and I believe that the current presidential visit is just a PR puff to provide pictures of the President looking busy for home consumption to give the impression that he is world class leader rather than a pariah.
I think that is time the UK stopped deluding itself that it has any influence over the current highly dangerous Bush administration.
Britain should stop acting like Europe is the great bogeyman and start to take more of an active part in the EU.
The only way that Europe can avoid being subsumed by the US is to start asserting itself.
I would love to see a strong but fair Europe. Strong economically, strong socially and strong militarily.
Yes, in the past the United States did help Europe deal with Fascism but things were very different 50-60 years ago, for one thing the US was not the all embracing Behemoth whose stated aim is 'full spectrum dominance' that it is now. The US of the past accepted its place as one power amongst many, and its help in defeating Fascism.
In Britain we have learned of the folly of Empire building - a lesson which has been ignored by the Bush administration.
Recent US Governments from the 50's onwards have rarely worked for the benefit not of the US people but for the Corporations who own the US Government.
I'm quite frightened of the way the US is going socially and politically at the moment. It appears that in the land of the free people are anything but when it comes to expressing political views that differ from GW Bush, who sadly has the potential to turn into the Tomas de Torquemada of the White House.
I'm not anti-American, just anti the worst aspects of America, which I believe could ravage the world and make it ungovernable and unliveable.
Richard G, UK
Cheers to Jason in Manchester. I'm a firm believer in the "special relationship" but only between the US and the UK. Such a relationship has never existed between the US and Europe and frankly, excepting maybe the Scandinavians, I don't think we're missing anything. If you think your neighbours to the East are without grave errors of their own, I'm afraid you haven't been paying attention. Many in the UK, particularly younger Britons, don't know the full history of the "special relationship" or its ins and outs over the last two centuries. There have not always been agreements; the UK didn't back the incursion into Vietnam, and the US did not back your Suez debacle.
Thatcher served as a go-between for the US and the former USSR, and Alexander Haig's shuttle diplomacy over the Falklands was one of many return gestures (it didn't change things in the end, but it was a solid attempt). There have been varying degrees of cooperation between the leadership of the two states, perhaps the best unwavering "love fest" being Blair to Clinton. The UK has become like a young woman who must choose between two suitors. If you feel your future is with the EU then go; you must do what is right for the UK. But I won't say I think it's a good idea. You really want to cuddle up to France?
To my mind, the special relationship is being stretched to breaking point by America's blinkered, unilateral stance on anything it feels strongly about these days. Most especially, it's stance of blindly supporting Israel and the atrocities it's committing against the Palestinian people while illegally occupying their land, while at the same time hypocritically trying to push all the fairness and justice 'hot-buttons' in decent people around the world. In the past I've greatly admired the US and all that it stands for, but I'm finding it very hard to respect the country in the face of these hypocrisies.
As long as we try to reclaim our centre-of-the-world status that Russia and the US took away from us after our second world war, Europe will never have very good relations with the US. We've seen Russia sink drastically over the past couple decades and now we're 'friendly' towards them while we continue to pursue the sole surviving superpower and probably China over the next few years. Watch out, world, here we come! What a hoot.
What I simply do not understand is why so many Europeans seem to believe that the American President should do as they wish, when they wish it. While it is always interesting to get different opinions, Bush was elected by the American people to represent American interests, not yours. If you wish to elect leaders who will put the wishes and benefits of other countries before your own, that's your business.
Jason, Manchester, England
The US is increasingly isolationist in its war on terror, whilst Europe has become obsessed with opposing anything the US does as it sees America as the bully-boy. The main concern here is how the two are going to combine their interests for the greater good.
I think that the relationship can work, however perhaps it needs redefining a bit. The important thing is for Britain to keep friendly dialogue open with America and our EU partners. This is a big superpower we're dealing with, and the UK seems to be the only real EU friend that the US has right now. If we don't provide that essential bridge to the EU for America to cross, then they will just retreat into their own world. That would be dangerous for everyone. So I applaud Tony Blair's successful efforts to get George Bush to come over to Europe this week. Hopefully there will be better relations between the EU and US from now on.
President Bush is pursuing a unilateralist course regardless of what his so-called allies think. Just look at the facts. Europe, and especially the UK, has made a great effort to normalise diplomatic relations with Iran. The US, our ally, then says Iran is part of an "axis of evil" undermining our efforts at a stroke. The US also slaps tariffs on our steel, to protect its own inefficient steel industries, while threatening WTO sanctions on those countries (including us in Europe) for not following free-market principles. The US refuses to sign the Kyoto agreement: Europe did. The US refuses to support an International Criminal Court and US policy regarding Iraq and Israel differs from Europe's. Don't get me wrong, I'm no knee-jerk, anti-American left-winger, I just think the Toxic Texan and his selfish policies are bad for Americans, Europeans and frankly the world.
Until Europe increases its defence spending by a huge amount, it will have to rely on American protection. It's ironic that so many Europeans are anti-American yet do not realise that if they were attacked by a rogue state the only country that could protect it would be the US. They should start realising what side their bread is buttered on.
To Philip Shorter, England. Well done mate. You have just indicated that the European armies are completely useless and couldn't deal with one country. Which country were you thinking of by the way, because the only nation on this land mass with enough military force to threaten the whole of Europe is China? Congratulations on annoying our entire military establishment.
Joe Ryan, France
Joe Ryan: The "special" relationship is not based on a delusion but a calculation that participation in the US-led Nato is (still) the best way of ensuring our security. Who
else can we rely on? Spain? Greece? A
common EU foreign policy whose
direction (and directors) has
yet to be determined?
The countries comprising the EU are too fractured for any special relationship with the US to work satisfactorily. If it was working, George Bush's current whistle-stop tour would be unnecessary, wouldn't it? The only country that has been positive and unconditional in its support of the US has been Great Britain. The rest have followed along behind at a safe distance.
America and Europe keep moving further away from each other, even on traditional military grounds. The US has to take partial responsibility for this with all their taking and little giving, especially on items close to the hearts of Europeans such as Kyoto. On the other hand some Europeans don't understand the US, especially over the International Criminal Court which the US has withdrawn from because its hallowed constitution states that there shall be no higher court than the US supreme court, and the US President's primary objective is to serve the people of the US. As Europe moves towards its inevitable federation of states Britain will soon have to choose to get closer to the US, the EU or renegotiate its position with in the EU allowing for a European commonwealth around the core states to keep British independence.
The only way this special little relationship will continue to work is if the EU acknowledges that it takes more from and gives less to the US than it really thinks it does. Bush is, in the eyes of other EU leaders, little more than a southern good ol' boy who is incapable of truly understanding the intricacies of international politics. Whether or not they are correct is not the point. If they see him as inferior, then they will treat him as inferior, which will only impact US-EU relations negatively.
To Matt, USA. "Thanks for nothing France" ?
I think as an American you mean "thanks for everything France." The reason why the USA exists is because of Frances involvement in your war of independence. Where do you think the Statue of Liberty came from?
Matt, USA. Just out of interest. When was WW1 and WW2 according to the USA's very short history? You have yet to realise that having Europe under the control of one single power was never in the USA's national security interests. How long after conquering Europe would the Soviets have waited before having a go at America. With no other significant allies, would the USA have been able to stand against them? It's your kind of 'you still owe us one' attitude that is causing a divide between Europe and the USA.
I could write a book about the hypocrisy and hatred I've read on this page! President Bush is a fine leader of our nation- it seems the EU simply wants to gripe about anything it can lay its teeth into. Please- build up your own weak foreign policies before you start picking on ours! At least we have the courage to act on what we believe in. I only hope our good ally the UK doesn't fall into the EU mire of cowardice and ignorance. Yes, we'll continue to stand behind our ally Israel; EU can stand back and watch the flaming synagogues in France.
Europe, birthplace of - socialism, communism, fascism, racism, totalitarianism. Think of all the millions of dead due to these isms. Were it not for America, the world would be dark place. Europe a superior culture? Please, give me a break.
I'm wondering how long will it take to finish with terrorism and
get back with to normal life because I'm tired with
those threats, I think that we must support, I mean all of us, the Americans in fighting terrorism until the end. Americans, just go for it, the people of Kosovo are with you.
23 May 02 | Europe
22 May 02 | Europe
22 May 02 | Americas
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