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Us Against the Middle East, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1605

Research Paper

Russia

For almost an entire half century after the end of World War Two, the United States of America and The Soviet Union were deeply suspicious of one another. While never engaging in open conflict against each other, their conflict, known as The Cold War could be seen as the driving force behind many of the wars that did occur in this time period. For a myriad of reasons, the Soviet Union collapsed in the early part of the 1990s, meaning a new era of relations between The United States and the Soviet Union’s successor nation, Russia.

During the Cold War, The Soviet Union and the United States were not in an attempt to integrate the other into their system. The Soviets represented the communist ideology while the Americans were representatives of capitalism. The two economies were hardly intertwined and they belonged to few or the same international organizations. However, after the Cold War ended, the feeling of America was that they could and should help integrate Russia into the Western backed global community (Wallander). Implicit in this goal is the idea that Russia needed to strive towards becoming a market oriented, democratically ran country in line with the Western countries it was hoping to integrate with. Making the Russians and Americans allies on many fronts would make their interests naturally align.

However, the integration process has not gone as smoothly as idealists would have hoped it to go. In economic terms, Russia’s early attempts at market reform were catastrophic failures. The support money Western nations were giving to Russia was largely used by the powerful to buy favor and the nation was so important to the global economy that it had too much leverage with the International Monetary Fund in negotiations, leaving the organization unable to demand any conditions from Russia. By the end of the first decade of its supposed economic integration, Russia entered a crisis where its currency, the ruble, collapsed in value alongside the very default on Russian debt that IMF concessions to Russia were designed to prevent (Pastor and Damjanovic, 2001).

On the political side outside of economics, Russian integrated with the western world and specifically The United States was largely through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO. Ironically, the organization was established by many western countries primarily as a mutual defense organization against the Soviet Union and its allies. Relationships have largely been formalized in a way that seems to imply better relationships between Russia and NATO’s member countries, specifically its dominant member, The United States. However, there have been a number of conflicts between the two, specifically seen in the United States missile defense system and Russia’s conflict with the nation of Georgia.

In the time after the Cold War, the nation of Georgia was inhabited by the separatist South Ossetia region. While the Georgians consider the territory of South Ossetia to be a part of their nation, the power in it largely belonged to an unrecognized government backed by Russia. NATO and other countries had refused to recognize South Ossetia, creating a conflict with Russia. Violence between the region and the leaders of Georgia itself broke out, and Russian peacekeeping forces in the nation were amongst the casualties inflicted by Georgia. For this reason, Russia sent more troops into the area and quickly took control. It was quickly pointed out by the Russians that Georgia receives large amounts of military aid from the United States, and one official accused the nation of being a proxy for the interests of the United States in their region of the world (Nazemroaya). The existence of an armed conflict where the two sides were so clearly opposed to each other shows that the United States and Russia had not integrated as much as would have been hoped in 1991.

Another area causing conflicts between the two nations was the issue of the proposal by the United States to build a missile defense system largely in Eastern Europe. Since the early days of The Cold War, both nations have been intently focused on the missile capabilities of the other. Despite the softening of relationships between the two, the United States still shows a high level of distrust towards Russian missile systems as shown in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review.

“Russia remains the only nation that can conceivably destroy the United State because of the size of its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, uncertainty over the future course of Russian foreign policy motivates the United States to keep a massive nuclear weapons reserve force. For these reasons, Russia still occupies a place on the list of potential targets for U.S. nuclear weapons (Nuclear Posture Review.)”

The same year that report was published, the United States withdrew from a treaty with Russia that limited both of their nuclear arsenals. This went in line with a project to establish their missile defense system that would have left Russia’s nuclear weapons useless against the United States. Russia, with no option for forming a similar system near American shores, has been strongly against this project, creating great deals of tension between the two.

Iraq

Outside of Russia, the nation in which United States foreign policy has been most active the past twenty years is likely Iraq. Similar to Russia, the relation between these two featured a massive shift due to events in 1991. Specifically, the two went to war with each other in the Persian Gulf War, with the United States driving Iraq out of Kuwait after they had invaded the oil rich nation to their south. The 1990s saw sanctions and embargoes against Iraq from the global community, with the United States being a strong proponent of them in hopes they could eliminate the weapons programs they believed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was undertaking. Reports have shown that the Central Intelligence Agency was unsuccessfully attempting to overthrow his government for many years (Brinkley, 2004). The decade culminated with President Bill Clinton ordering the United States to carry out bombing missions that were intended to harm Iraq’s ability to produce these weapons.

Suspicions about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction then lead to the war between the two countries beginning in 2003. Iraq had shut out weapons inspectors from their country, leading to uneasiness about their weapons capacity from the United States and some allies. After a great deal of discussion in the international community, Saddam’s government was quickly toppled with the help of coalition forces. The United States was then instrumental in setting up their new government and kept troops in the country until late 2011 to help secure its power.

Despite the withdrawal of its troops, the United States is still going to be active in its relations towards Iraq. However, it is difficult to know what type of shape this post war relation is going to take due to the short term that we have seen them interact with Iraq outside of the war setting. Its geographical position mean that is can be a United States ally in a region where they value any support they can get (Turkish Weekly, 2011). Trade wise, the two look to become economic partners as Iraq shifts its concern from counter terrorism to spurring economic growth. This type of relation would also likely excite the Americans due to the geological resources present in Iraq.

Russian Policies against Iraqi Policies

Before comparing American policies Iraq and Russia since the Cold War, it needs to be established which Iraq and which Russia are in question. Iraq has been an enemy closed off to the international community; a belligerent with the United States, a country effectively ran by them briefly, and now a close ally. Russia was at first a nation the United States was attempting to democratize and introduce market reforms to, but as those efforts have fallen short of their intended goals, and Russia and the United States has butted heads over each other’s foreign policy, their relationship has become less amicable. Comparing the relations between the United States and the two countries at their most hostile, Iraq was shut out of the international community to an extent no one has attempted against Russia, as can be done with the much smaller, less powerful nation. In friendlier times, the United States has been much more intertwined with Iraq than it was with Russia. The United States was instrumental in protecting Iraq for years, while its diplomatic military relations with Russia had to go through NATO, an organization that the United States greatly influences, but does not control and must surely inspire distrust in the Russians due to its origins.

Modern Russian Policies Against Cold War Policies

Since The Cold War, America’s policy towards Russia has become more aggressive and without Russian participation. Reagan and Gorbachev were frequent collaborators, and signed multiple treaties limiting nuclear proliferation. Yet, since the United States and Russia entered an era that seemingly should have been friendlier, the United States has been more insistent with its actions towards Russia. The United States has withdrawn from treaties with Russia, while launching a plan to set up significant military infrastructure in Eastern Europe, something it would have never dared to do during the Cold War. It is likely that Russia’s decline as a power, and the subsequent American rise to hegemony means that they are able to be more assertive in their dealings with not just Russia, but others.

Works Cited

Wallander, C. (1999). Russian-US Relations In The Post Post Cold War Era.

Pastor, G., & Damjanovic, T. (2001). The Russian Financial Crisis.

Turkish Weekly. (2011). Us, Iraq Pledge Strong Post-War Trade Relations.

Nazemroaya, Mahdi Darius. (2009). America and Russia: Has the Cold War Really Ended?

Brinkley, Joel. (2004). Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90’s Attacks.

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