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
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)
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(Newser) – 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?"