(….to finally bury Cold War residues)

One would have thought that our European friends, and we Americans, would have realized that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by several decades of internal turmoil as it worked to purge itself of the remnants of that past, that the best way of bringing Russia into the European fold, to finally bury Cold War residues, was to help it in from the cold and further integrate it into the European Union.

Instead, both we and Europe have tended to treat it as still essentially “Soviet” in practice, if not in form. Not surprisingly Russia has reacted to that arms-length attitude by flexing both its political, and military muscle over a number of its former republics bordering Western Europe….namely Belo-Russ and the Ukraine. And the further eastward extensions of our Cold War anachronism of NATO, has simply added to Russia’s concerns, leaving its hierarchs with somewhat paranoid perceptions that it’s further evidence of our efforts to strategically block it out of Western Europe.

Which may explain the recent strong growling noises coming out of Moscow.

Frankly, this seems not just short-sighted policy, but downright strategically self-defeating on the part of the European Union and ourselves. While no longer the military behemoth it once was, Russia has become an economic one for Europe, since it supplies some 25% of all its energy needs in terms of oil and natural gas. And it has demonstrated that it’s not afraid to use that economic muscle (viz. its occasional shut down of oil and gas flows through the pipelines supplying Europe).

The current Euro zone financial crisis may now be a portal of opportunity to invite and draw in Russia to become a member of its union. The inclusion of Russia as a fully active member of it would create a giga-economic entity of enormous capacity, ranging east-west from the Urals to Portugal, and north-south from Scandinavia to the shores of the Mediterranean.

Besides helping to resurrect the Euro, such a development would then make NATO a truly obsolete anachronism of the Cold War, deserving of being properly de-commissioned and buried with all its other residues. In its place, Europe could then establish its own multi-member defense organization against which, since it would include Russia, there would be no external source capable (or even capable) of threatening it.

Russia has a much more to offer beyond mere energy resources (or gorgeous mail-order brides). Its closer integration and membership with the European Union could be a significant step forward towards global stability and economic activity. From an American perspective such a development would free it from the strategic obligations it has had to maintain in Europe against it since the end of WWII, allowing it to evolve a more rational formula for Russo-American relations in the future.

But the greatest benefit for America would be that it could then focus major attention on its two most important strategic national interests. That is, its place in the Western Hemisphere, and, its place in the Pacific world, both of which are vital to its future and global standing for the rest of this 21st century.

Such a tectonic shift in today’s international matrix would be a first positive step towards a truly peaceful and prosperous global community, and it could all start by bringing Russia in….out of the cold.

Well, what it really comes down to is whether it’s better to have a big old teddy-bear inside the house you can cuddle up to….or….to leave a grumpy old grizzly prowling around outside it, looking for ways and means to break down your door…to get in.