Americans should be happy because soon the darkest time for their country since world war two will be over. Bush will be gone and America will begin to wake from the long, eight-year nightmare. Then, the real work will begin. The first step for Americans will be to measure the true extent of the disaster. The mood is somber here because it’s just dawning on us how bad things are! Between plunging home prices, staggering credit card debt, and soaring energy and food costs, the average American family is pretty near broke. The dollar is practically worthless, so Americans can’t afford to keep importing consumer goods and few will be going abroad on vacations this summer.
Maybe some snooty Parisians will think that’s a good thing, but the rest of Europe will soon miss those chubby American tourists and their lovely green dollars. And of course, Washington is embroiled in two hopeless wars that will continue to bleed the country white for the foreseeable future. But from the Russian perspective, this all sounds like pathetic whining. Americans, who don’t even know what real suffering is, are simply getting a long overdue comeuppance. So who cares? What does this have to do with Russia? The short answer is plenty. Russia needs a strong America. The two world superpowers and old allies still need each other, if purely out of self -interest.
If America, like an economic drunk driver, crashes into a long, deep recession and drags Asia and Europe down with it, the price of oil (and other commodities) will plunge. That won’t be good for Russia. If the dollar continues crashing, cheap American goods and services will flood global markets, outcompeting the Europeans, who are Russia’s best energy customers. And if the dollar falls low enough, it could provoke another currency crisis, just like in the late 1990s. That would be terrible timing, with the Russian Ruble set to float in global currency exchange markets. It could drive a new round of inflationary pressures in Russia, as risk adverse traders flock to safer currencies like the Euro and the Pound.
A world wide economic slump and a rising cost of capital could slow or stall emerging markets in general and the amazing progress of the Russian economy in particular. And if America is severely weakened economically, her military preparedness must also suffer. America has unintentionally aggravated two potentially enormous problems on Russia’s boarders, one in China and another in the Muslim world. If America fails to constructively engage Islam or to contain the Chinese Frankenstein, huge security problems for Russia will be the result. These are only some of the nuts and bolts of the general reasons why Russia and America need each other.
Cold war style rhetoric and games have to stop. Yes, old habits die hard, but these are pointless, puerile distractions. Another cold war is in neither country’s interest. When Bush is gone and sanity returns (hopefully) to the White House, new democratically elected leaders in both Russia and America need to recognize realities, roll up their sleeves and start working together. For example, on a missile defense system that will really make Europe safe. That’s in (almost!) everyone’s interest. Russian policy can help moderate the cost of energy so as not to stall the world economy and cause a global recession that no one wants. Such a move would win the hearts of average Americans too, especially since their own leaders aren’t likely to do anything to help them, at least in the short term.
Everyone clever knows that Bush is the puppet of Saudi Arabia, and over the last eight years, his Administration has done everything possible to send the price of oil sky high. It’s clear that neither Bush nor the House of Saud care a fig about struggling American families. In fact, the Republicans know that they have a better change of electing the next Pope of Rome than the next President of the United States. So as the Bush Administration winds done, far from helping American families, I expect the Republicans will try to steal even the furniture out of the White House. With respect to human rights, Russia can lead the way. On the Security Council, Russia can engage China over the Tibet issue and send a clear message that at least one of the world’s superpowers won’t silently tolerate that kind of abuse. Such a move would force even the China-coddling Bush Administration to recognize the Asian monster they’ve helped create. And what would really cement the relationship is increased mutual investment. Russia might invest more of her petrodollars here in America, and encourage American companies to take larger stakes in the booming Russian economy, like Pepsico has done recently.
America and Russia sit top either half of the globe. Thanks in no small part to the old alliance, and even to the competition of the Cold War years, both nations have become superpowers with political, economic and military influence that will decide the future of humanity well into the next century and far beyond. Its obvious that the more constructively we work together, the brighter that future will be.
Dominick L. Auci, Ph.D.