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War, What is it Good For?

war_cartoon051309.jpgIn what may be the understatement of the year, Mikhail Gorbachev complains that Europe misunderstands Russia:

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says Western portrayals of Russia as an aggressive, imperialist nation are “nonsense.”

Gorbachev said Wednesday that Europe misunderstands Russia and stressed that his country does not want military confrontation with anyone.

It’s not difficult to see where these portrayals of Russia come from.  Earlier in the day, a Kremlin policy paper signed by the president struck a much different tone, warning that armed conflict may break out at its borders over energy resources.

“The international policy in the long run will be focused on getting hold of energy sources, including in the Middle East, the Barents Sea shelf and other Arctic regions, the Caspian and Central Asia,” said the strategy paper that was posted on the presidential Security Council’s Web site.

“Amid competitive struggle for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems can’t be excluded,” it added. “The existing balance of forces near the borders of the Russian Federation and its allies can be violated.”

These aren’t unreasonable or unthinkable statements, but they are bellicose and do underscore Russia’s traditional sensitivity (which some describe as “paranoia“) about the imminent threat of invasion and attack.  Gorbachev’s role in Russian politics is becoming increasingly interesting with his foundation of a new liberal party along with Alexander Lebedev, but his argument about the harmless docility of the current leadership (or at least the Putin-Sechin clans) seems weakened by this paper.