Sunday, October 25, 2009

Serbia and Russia Sign Friendship Pact

Serbia and Russia have signed a pact of friendship. The pact includes joint commercial ventures, cultural exchanges and security. The web site Balkan Insight reports as follows.

"Serbian and Russian delegations, led by their heads of state, Boris Tadic and Dmitry Medvedev, signed six agreements on bilateral cooperation at 1pm. The agreements cover the fields of culture, science and technology, security, education, air travel and parliamentary cooperation.

The pacts are as follows:

- An agreement on the establishment of a gas storage firm, Banatski Dvor, as a joint venture between Serbia’s state-owned gas company, Srbijagas, and Russian gas giant Gazprom."

When Yugoslavia was ruled by Marshal Tito, it was notably more friendly to the United States, even siding with us to a considerable extent in the Korean War. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, the US has sided against Serbia in a series of disputes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. For decades, the fear of being dominated by Russia drove Yugoslavia into a separate orbit.

Now, both Russia and Serbia are the respective hubs of smaller republics that have now gone their respective ways. Russia has to worry about its southern republics that now feel the pull of Turkey and Iran, as well as the attraction to resurgent Islam in its various forms. Serbia has felt the strong arm of Muslim countries who have sent arms and fighters to assist insurgents in Kosovo and Bosnia.

Russia has in turn dealt with a bloody insurgency in Chechenya, also fed by Muslim sponsors abroad.

The Serbian Russian alliance should be watched. America has a lot of fence mending to do in Russia's sphere of influence and concern as well as that of Serbia. How will this alliance play out? It is in America's interest that the resurgence of Islam in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and all of the other former Soviet republics be politically benign. The Turks are taking a fresh look at the hard line secularism of its modern founder Kemal Ataturk. This is also having repurcussions in the region.

Is America involved? Is it mending fences and building bridges? Russia is very skilled at building alliances with other than military means. Its style of reaching out to Serbia should be studied and if possible emulated. The Balkans is a difficult region. There is a lot of hatred and distrust between neighbouring republics that were at each other's throats only a short while ago. It will take understanding, tact and diplomacy to function effectively in the region. Getting off the plane and apologising for America would not only be useluss, but largely irrelevant.

America has a lot of interest in being engaged with Russia and in the Balkans not militarily but in the same areas mapped out in Russia and Serbia's friendship agreement. America is a superpower even today, and we do the world no good to pretend otherwise. We have for instance provided medical, educational and economic aid to sub saharan Africa. If we do not maintain our influence there, then Russia will be more than happy to fill the void. A good project in South Africa itself would be to broker a peace agreement to stop the slaughter of Afrikaner farmers as well as to train Black South Africans in agriculture and agricultural business. This is one of many trouble spots in the world that the US could influence peacefuly with no military expenditures.

I once worked for a boss who redecorated the office of his predecessor within hours of taking over. He fired those hired by the old boss, and suspended all of his predecessor's initiatives. He overlooked a primary lesson my father taught me when I was about five years old. Never flip a switch for no reason, or cut a wire without knowing what it goes to. The mess he made of his job made him a laughingstock during his short tenure in the company. Barack Obama seems to have made some similar mistakes. He has made differing with the Bush administration an end in and of itself. He has alienated long term friends and gained no new ones.

I do not know how peaceful the new Russia is. But under Medvedev as under Putin, it has been cool and single minded in assessing its interests and pursuing them. America would be in far better shape if the same could be said of the new administration in Washington. Right now under President Obama, this does not seem to be the case. And that should concern all of us.

1 comment:

Dan - Israeli Uncensored News said...

Do you think Russia has a great interest in spoiling relations with America by placing its strategic bombers in Venezuela? Putin is much less of a rationalist than many think.