Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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The Emerging Russia's Terrorism Issues
I am not a Russia expert and defer to Robert Kagan and others to paint the macro picture of what Russia's incursion into Georgia means.

But there are several issues, outside of these, that need to be looked at in terms of Russia in the greater world, and our relationship to Russia, particularly in counter-terrorism and weapons proliferation issues.

What is clear is that Russia is set on selling weapons to those who want very badly to hurt us, and who buy their weapons with the stated purpose of using them for that.

Everyone sells weapons, and yes, the United States plays in the game. But Russia's willingness to arm non-state actors and states that are facing international sanction is qualitatively different.

The three clearest examples are the arming Hezbollah in the summer 2006 conflict (courtesy of their favorite delivery person with almost-plausible deniability, Viktor Bout); Venezuela, which recently purchased an additional $2 billion worth of weapons from Russia, in addition to the $4.4 billion already purchased in the past four years-including two AK-47 factories; and Iran, receiving advanced missile systems.

As noted above, Chavez's pitch for purchasing the weapons was the formation of an anti-US coalition with strategic interests in Latin America.

Bout was also known to be delivering, on behalf of the Russian government, weapons shipments to forces in Georgia's separatist regions, helping to pave the way for the armed incursion.

One can argue that sovereign nations can buy and sell weapons as they choose, and that is true. But Russia's willingness, and downright eagerness, to arm those who want to hurt us and have established ties to international terrorist organizations with a demonstrated willingness to attack, should give policy makers pause.

For many year, since President Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul, we have been living the illusion that Russia is an ally. Bout was forgiven his multiple atrocities, in part, because we did not want to upset Russia while he delivered their weapons around the world, wreaking havoc.

The Georgia invasion may finally change this. But it has been evident for a long, long time that Russians friends are often our enemies, and Russia's willingness to arm them to hurt us is abundantly clear.

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