Thus, at its inception, missile defense had a fruitful purpose-to bring to a close the Cold War, i.e., the division of Europe into mutually antagonistic blocs. Reagan was so concerned that his plans for missile defense not destabilize the nuclear balance and thus deepen and prolong pan-European discord that he offered to share the technology with Moscow that was still the capital of the Soviet Union.
The Obama Administration, having launched its wise and admirable reset by canceling President Bush's plans to deploy a missile system on Russia's borders, has since revived that very bad idea, and thereby torpedoed one of its few solid foreign policy achievements. It plans to park elements of a missile defense system in Poland and Romania, prompting Russia's once and presumably future president Vladimir Putin to ask publicly: "So where is this reset?"
Sadly, Obama has shown himself unable to withstand the pressures of powerful lobbies and factions within his own party for empire-that is to say for the maintenance and expansion of our globe-girdling hive of compliant states.
The upshot: Russian President Medvedev recently announced Moscow's intention to counteract the deployment of any new American missiles on his country's periphery by targeting them with missiles based in Belarus and Russia.
Our impending insolvency may yet save us from this potentially disastrous course. Why disastrous? Because it thoroughly undoes the heroic and beneficent work of Reagan and Gorbachev who laid the groundwork for a new pan-European zone of security and economic cooperation stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and embracing North America. They aimed to put a definitive end to the European civil war that dated back to the outbreak of World War I and the subsequent Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, and continued through World War II and the Cold War.
Many in U.S. foreign policy circles reject the notion that Russia can be a reliable partner ostensibly because it does not share our values. They have long made Putin out to be neo-Soviet, indeed Stalin reincarnate, and now feel justified in that laughably slanderous misconception on the strength of alleged voter fraud in the December 4th State Duma elections. What they fail to mention is that for the first time in the history of Russia a ruling party has been rebuked at the polls, effectively losing the election. A significant loss of support for United Russia was predictable; nevertheless, the government allowed a largely free (though clearly imperfect) process to proceed. When it takes office, the new State Duma will approximate to the real shape of public opinion, and will credibly serve as a legitimate forum for debate and political action.
Thus, Russia continues its long, sometimes halting, but inexorable march away from totalitarianism. America, meanwhile, continues to march in the opposite direction: once a free Republic, it strives for global strategic dominance, and pays a heavy toll in disregard for civil liberties as its bossy, unaccountable, and incorrigible elite throws its weight around in every nook and cranny of the globe. Our militarized foreign policy, the monopolistic duopoly of the Republican and Democratic parties, the ubiquity of embedded regime media (msnbc on the left and Fox News on the pseudo-right, for example) conspire to render the quaint, non-interventionist, commercial Republic of George Washington as remote and defunct as the lost world of Atlantis (unless Ron Paul wins, and/or the global economy crashes, and even then a restoration is far from certain).
The reset needs to be more than a temporary suspension of our efforts to strategically encircle Moscow as we extricate ourselves from interminable foreign wars. It needs to be the first step towards divesting ourselves of empire and constructing a new pan-European entente cordiale for the sake of the moral, cultural and spiritual renaissance of the Northern Hemispheric nations of greater Europe.
Pan-Europe will revive by recuperating the heritage of Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, and Constantinople or not at all. And this will happen only in accord with Russia. It will not happen otherwise.
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the U.S.A. under Ronald Reagan, is back. Those of us who fought to relegate Marxism-Leninism to the ash heap of history did so in the hope and expectation that Russia would emerge from under the rubble of a failed ideology still breathing and conscious.
Americans should be proud of their contribution to Russia's revival, and work with Russia's leadership to fashion a new zone of economic and security cooperation spanning the Northern Hemisphere.
To this end, the 2012 Republican Party platform should contain a plank calling on Moscow to reaffirm the sovereignty of all former satellites and Soviet republics. At the same time, it should insist that NATO halt further expansion eastward, and desist from basing military forces, including missile systems, anywhere east of Germany.
Thus, the newest NATO members would have the benefit of Article 5 protection while post-Soviet Russia would achieve stability on its borders, thus allowing it to develop internally, and repair the damage of 70 years of Marxist-Leninist misrule. The path would then be open to a strategic partnership with Moscow -- much needed if pan-Europe is to meet the strategic challenges posed by a rising East Asia and resurgent Islamic extremism.
In addition, the U.S. should scrap any notion of deploying missile defenses in Europe pointed towards Russia, and instead opt for a joint U.S.-Russian system designed to defend against threats from rogue states -- if indeed it proceeds with missile defense at all.
Republican candidates for president should call for an agonizing reappraisal of American foreign policy with a view to pan-European solidarity rather that a global hegemony we do not need and cannot afford. We should have done this in the immediate wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but never did. We must make up for lost time. The time to act is now.
James George Jatras is the former Foreign Policy Analyst, U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer
Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow and Professor of the Department of World Politics at the Moscow State University.
Anthony T. Salvia is the former Special Advisor to the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (appointee of President Ronald Reagan)