Nuke Advantage Emboldened Putin's Russia

US disarmament partly to blame for Georgia war, says Schoenfeld
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2008 9:25 AM CDT
Nuke Advantage Emboldened Putin's Russia
Russian soldiers sit atop a tank, with a portrait of PM Vladimir Putin at left in the background, in Tskhinvali, the main city of South Ossetia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008.   (AP Photo)

Diplomats and pundits have debated what led Russia to attack Georgia so forcefully, pointing to everything from newfound economic strength to a sense of national humiliation. But Gabriel Schoenfeld, editor at neoconservative magazine Commentary, has another explanation: it's Russia's growing nuclear advantage, especially with short-range arms, that has "helped embolden the bear."

As Schoenfeld writes in the Wall Street Journal, while the US has disarmed, Russia has been much slower to eliminate its short-range missiles. Only recently, Vladimir Putin threatened to target Ukraine with nukes if it joined NATO. Watching the war in Georgia, Schoenfeld wonders if George Bush has made a major error by accelerating disarmament: "Given the pugnacious Russia that has suddenly emerged, what is the strategic legacy that he will leave for his successor?" (Read more nuclear disarmament stories.)

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