Thursday, August 21, 2008

Need to cool rhetoric

Aug.21 2008

Need to cool rhetoric,
avert revived Cold War

The Cold War seems to have been rekindled and it does not bode well for world peace and security because the tone of threats, implied and otherwise, has gone up several notches from the levels of the second half of last century.
Russia has openly threatened to use nuclear weapons against Poland if it allows the deployment of US anti-missile missiles in its territory on the pretext that it is defence against possible missile attacks from "rogue states" like Iran. It warned that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack. Russian forces would target “the allies of countries having nuclear weapons” to destroy them “as a first priority,” according to a senior Russia military commander.
However, Warsaw has gone ahead with signing an agreement with the US.
The flare-up comes against the backdrop of Russian military intervention in the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia. And Abkhazia, another Georgian separatist region, is said to be seeking Russian recognition as an independent state.
US President George Bush, who broke an international understanding when he recognised Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia only six months ago, says that "the Cold War is over… Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."
According to Bush, Russia’s military intervention in Georgia had damaged its credibility and the US stands with the people of Georgia. He called for the withdrawal of “invading forces from all Georgian territory.” Hwever, Moscow was in no mood to comply immediately. It took its own times planning and implementing the withdrawal call as part of a ceasefire it signed with Georgia.
Russian troops were said to be leaving Georgia on Wednesday, but that does not in any manner signal an end to the brewing conflict which has far larger dimensions than meet the eye.
Russia's Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn has accused Israel of arming the Georgian military with mines, explosive charges, special explosives for clearing minefields and eight kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Israel has also sent trainers to help the Georgian military, something that Georgia itself has admitted. The Georgian defence minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli who is believed to have played a key role in building strong Israel-Georgia military relations backed by the US.
Israel has interpreted the Russian charge that it supplied weapons to Georgia as preparing the ground for selling advanced Russian weapons to Syria, particularly the advanced Iskandar missiles.
It notes that Nogovitsyn's charge came on the eve of a visit to Moscow by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and contends that the occasion would be used to seal deals for the supply of sophisticated weapons systems not so far released to Syria by Moscow.
No doubt, the Israeli contention is linked to the Jewish state's quest for increased US military assistance to "protect" it against the "new threat" that is perceived in the alleged Russian deal with Syria.
The end result, however, will be a stepped up arms race in the Middle East. It is imperative that both Washington and Moscow immediately move to cool the rhetoric and review bilateral relations with a view to averting the dangers that lurk round the corner.