Finally, someone in the news media, albeit not mainstream, has responded to McCain's utterly insane proposal in quite candid terms. Nevertheless, we should all get used to the idea of John McCain as the next president of the United States. It sometimes seems as if nothing will stop these "Neocons" from dragging this nation down, even if it means taking the rest of the world down with it.

Arevordi

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McCain's proposal to kick Russia out of G-8 is bold and unlikely

April, 2008

John McCain dropped a little-noticed bombshell into his March foreign-policy address: Boot Russia from the G-8, the elite club of leading industrial democracies whose leaders try to coordinate economic policies. One major problem: He can't do it because the other G-7 nations won't let him. But the fact that he's proposing to try, risking a return to Cold War tensions with the world's second-largest nuclear power after 20 years of prickly partnership, raises questions about McCain's judgment. It also underscores that many of his top foreign-policy advisers are of the same neo-conservative school that promoted the war in Iraq , argue for a tougher stance toward Iran and are skeptical of negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program.

The Group of Eight, or G-8, as it's popularly known, makes decisions by consensus, so no single nation can kick out another. Most experts say the six other countries— Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada — would never agree to toss Russia, given their close economic ties to their neighbor. A senior U.S. official who deals with Russia policy said that even Moscow would have to approve of its own ouster, given how the G-8 works. "It's not even a theoretical discussion. It's an impossible discussion," said the senior official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. "It's just a dumb thing." Aside from that, many wonder whether McCain's suggestion would be wise policy. They fear that if McCain is elected and follows through on an attempt to toss Russia from the group, it could anger and isolate Russia , which has been increasingly assertive on the world stage, autocratic within its borders and is the second-largest producer of the hydrocarbons that feed the world's energy needs.

"In Europe , there's very little support ... for a policy like that," said Stephen Larrabee , an expert on Europe and Russia at the RAND think tank. "It's too late in the game to try and oust Russia ." The proposal also seemed at odds with the theme of McCain's speech, which promised a less unilateral approach to world affairs than the Bush White House has pursued. That could reflect tension between two Republican foreign-policy camps vying for influence in McCain's campaign: the pragmatic realists and the hard-line neo-conservatives— with the neo-cons ascendant for now in Russia policy. "There are a lot of important issues that we need Russia's support on. ...What's to be gained by tossing Russia out? We feel more self-righteous about ourselves?" said Andrew Kuchins , the director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for International and Strategic Studies , a center-right think tank.

Randy Scheunemann , the foreign-policy director for McCain's campaign, acknowledged that "there would be very vigorous discussion" within the G-8 of a proposal to exclude Russia . But, he said, Russia was "on a different political and economic trajectory" when it joined the group a decade ago, and he said it's unlikely that the same invitation would be extended today. Scheunemann vigorously disputed that the proposal is a product of McCain's neo-con advisers. McCain's position on the issue dates to 2003, he said. The G-8 is an informal alliance of the world's leading industrialized democracies. Leaders gather annually to discuss a broad range of global issues, from the economy to security to the environment. Ministers from member governments then coordinate policies behind the scenes in accordance with decisions taken at the annual summits.

The alliance was known for years as the G-7 until Russia was admitted in 1997, at the behest of the Clinton administration, as a way to encourage further democratic and economic reforms under President Boris Yeltsin . Russia has always been an odd fit for the group. While it's risen in recent years to join the ranks of the world's top 10 economies, that's due to its energy exports, not its modest industrial capacity. And its experiment with democracy has gone into reverse in recent years, which makes it doubly out of step with the seven industrial democracies. McCain's proposal addresses concerns about Russia's behavior, which became more adversarial under President Vladimir Putin (who, though he leaves office this month, will become prime minister and remain Russia's dominant figure). Examples include its meddling in the affairs of neighbors such as Ukraine and Georgia , its threat to aim missiles at other European neighbors in response to President Bush 's plans for a Europe -based missile defense and its crackdown on political dissent.

"It's not from left field," said Derek Chollet , a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security , a bipartisan foreign-policy research institution. "As Russia has de-democratized, there's been this whole question of, `What do we do?' The title is industrialized democracies. If Russia is drifting away from democracy, what do we do with it?" But McCain's solution "on a scale of one to 10 of possible action, is going to 11," Chollet said. Instead, "you just have to be cold-hearted about this," said Colin Bradford , an expert in global governance at the Brookings Institution , a center-left Washington research center. "We all believe in human rights and democracy. ...But it doesn't matter what the internal regime looks like. You need them at the table. We've got to figure out the incentives" that will make Russia behave better.

Some agree with McCain's approach. Ariel Cohen , a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation , said McCain's proposal was "right on the money." "It sends Russia a strong message to stop behaving the way it does," Cohen said. "As long as Russia doesn't behave like a democracy, why should it be in the G-8?" Cohen added that there are plenty of other forums for Russia to be heard in the world, including bilateral talks, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. McCain clearly dislikes Putin. A line he likes to use on the campaign trail is that while Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul, McCain looked into Putin's eyes and "saw three letters: KGB." Putin was a longtime officer in the Soviet intelligence service.

The feeling appears mutual: McCain and campaign pal Sen. Joseph Lieberman , an independent Democrat from Connecticut , regaled reporters a few months ago with a story of the conference in Munich, Germany , "where Putin last year chose to give his first real strong anti-American speech ...when you saw a real change," McCain said. "He looked over and glared at me and Joe in the front row a couple of times." That may be because McCain and Lieberman had sponsored a bill in 2005 urging what McCain is proposing anew: that Russia's G-8 membership be suspended. What's striking about McCain's proposal is how far it is from the Bush administration's long effort to engage Putin. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also have offered tough rhetoric on Russia. Of course, Kuchins said, "they're all on the campaign trail. Bush has to actually govern."

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20...latchy/2927033

More paranoid talk from the West:

Putin's legacy: strong Russia with a Soviet flavor


When Russian President Vladimir Putin steps down next week after eight years in power, he will leave behind him a strong Russia, self-confident at home and assertive abroad. But the smack of the Soviet past can be felt distinctly in the legacy that Putin, a steely-eyed former KGB spy, will hand over to his protege Dmitry Medvedev, who will be sworn in as the new president on May 7. Russia was in ruins when Putin became president in 1999. Its economy was spluttering, the country's cohesion was threatened by independent-minded regional leaders, a separatist rebellion in Chechnya and a wave of violent attacks across the country. Eight years on, Russia is very different country and voters give Putin much of the credit -- he bows out with an unprecedented popularity rating of about 70 percent.

He will stay on as a powerful prime minister. "We have restored the territorial integrity and unity of our nation, we have recreated the state," he has said, summing up his key achievements. "We have restored the fundamental basis of the Russian economy and are turning into an economic leader." Chechnya has been largely pacified and key rebel leaders have been killed, although a small-scale Islamist insurgency is still causing instability in the regions around it. The one-trillion-dollar economy, helped by high energy prices and liberal market reforms launched in the first years of Putin's rule, is booming with hefty 7 percent annual growth. Big Russian firms are elbowing their way into Western markets. "We feel more confident now," Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said. "The government no longer needs to plug holes and can focus on long-term goals." "I read newspapers again because I find things to be proud of there," said Oleg Georgiyevich, a pensioner who came to watch tanks and missile launchers rolling through Moscow as they rehearsed for a May 9 parade -- a revival of a Soviet-era tradition.

WORRYING SIGNS

But a vocal minority of Russians, along with Western governments and rights groups, see worrying signs. "Putin's main achievement is a spectacular return to the Soviet epoch," author and opposition activist Zakhar Prilepin said in the Internet publication Izbrannoye (www.izbrannoye.ru). Putin's rule has seen a rolling back of political freedoms introduced under his predecessor Boris Yeltsin. Hitherto elected regional governors are now effectively appointed by the Kremlin. Parliament, once the scene of political battles, has become under Putin a docile chamber that rubber-stamps the Kremlin's decisions.

Opposition parties complain they have been sidelined by a Kremlin campaign of harassment and elections rigged to favor Putin's United Russia party. The Kremlin says the opposition has lost ground because it is out of touch with what voters want. Russia's main television stations and biggest newspapers are either controlled by the state or Kremlin-friendly businessmen, and have become deferential in their reporting. At the grass roots, the pervasive influence of Putin's tightening control is felt too. "I had to get a United Russia membership card," said a 50-year-old businessman from the provincial city of Yaroslavl. "It is now an entry ticket to official contacts and protects you from problems, exactly like the Communist Party card worked in the Soviet Union." Putin argues that the Kremlin needed to wield stronger political powers to ensure economic growth and avert the disintegration of the country.

He also defends another element of his legacy: increasing government involvement in the economy. Some international companies have been forced to give up their stakes in lucrative energy projects and state corporations are mushrooming. Many investors were alarmed at the way the Russian state dismantled the Yukos oil company, arrested its top executives and sold off its best assets to the state-owned Rosneft in auctions which lacked transparency. Business leaders -- careful since the Yukos case to stay away from politics -- are now warning that too much state intervention could harm the economy. "There should be clarity about the role of the state and private business in the economy," the influential head of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, told Medvedev at a meeting last month.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/world...25888020080502

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