ZB believes this stand off with Russia needs a quick resolution, and if not it could be a steady deterioration in the relationship with Russia. (That's basically what Secretary Gates said today, but how well prepared was the administration for this conflict?) It was not prepared because this conflict was mushrooming over a longish period of time, during which the President was declaring his admiration for Putin. (This is part of President Bush's insistence that personal diplomacy has worked with Russia.) I don't linger on that. Right now we have serious problems with our relations with Russia so it's a time to stand together�we shouldn't be sniping at Bush. The U.S. should be united in a pursuit of an international law in which respect for other countries is desirable, and Russia needs to know that as well. But let's be clear: this is not a new Cold War. Russia is quite vulnerable, and Russia could be scared that it could lose its assets that it has stashed in the West. I think if we're steady and clear in that there are consequences, Russia might back off. (What should the U.S. do then?) There will be consequences, serious ones, we need to tell them that. (How could they not know that?) Because that's been our behavior over the last several years, that we would not react strongly. (But there's no chance this could end in a war?) I don't believe so, the Cold War was a global competition. Russia has no ideology right now, so there won't be many countries that want to line up behind Russian nationalism.

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