The $1 Million Rogozin-NATO Challenge

nato030510.jpgSo everybody is talking about this $1 million challenge posted by Russian Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin on his Twitter for someone to “prove that NATO is not pursuing military planning against Russia.”  Don’t bother trying to win, as Julia Ioffe points out, “Conveniently, it doesn’t matter whether Rogozin possesses such a sum because Rogozin a) believes beyond a doubt that NATO is in fact out to attack Russia, and b) was asking a rhetorical question.

Blogger Luke Johnson makes a good point that NATO can barely keep its guys together on a nasty campaign in Afghanistan, so any idea of actually entering conflict with Russia is ludricrously far-fetched.  I can appreciate how the hawks in the Kremlin dislike NATO expansion and seek to curb it by talking about war, but really the interests are more in terms of political influence in the region than any realistic scenario of conflict.  Seriously, Russia – look what happened after the invasion of Georgia: squat!  Could there be any greater acid test to prove that there exists no desire, grounds, expediency, or political will on behalf of NATO members to attack Russia?

Nevertheless, Russia’s new military doctrine unveiled earlier this weekshows that NATO is viewed as the centerpiece of the country’s securitythreats, described by Power Vertical as “a completely Soviet military doctrine.” Terrorism and separatist violence in the North Caucasus, nuclearproliferation in Iran, North Korean antics, and the silent ominousbreathing of China on the doorstep – these are all considered lessurgent threats after the clunker alliance of NATO.

Trumping up the idea of NATO as an external threat and enemy #1 ispolitically convenient, allowing for the favored portrayal of Russia asa besieged fortress, a victim in need of strong protection, and worthyof moral panic justifying certain liberties of executive power.  As Rogozin himself has statedhe would never have Russia join NATO because it would be an admissionthat it had lost the Cold War, which he denies (the Soviet Union lostthe Cold War, not the Russian Federation).  But with so much imperialnostalgia injected into this security assessment, could it be that theKremlin’s vision has gone foggy?