Posts Tagged ‘IAEA’

December 2011

The Autumn of the US-Russia Reset

World Affairs

A colleague and I have described the post-Soviet era in Russia as the “age of impunity,” whereby even the most howlingly obvious crimes of man or state are implausibly denied or whitewashed in a manner redolent of Stalinist propaganda. Two such examples have furnished themselves in quick succession in the last month, one relating to the conviction of a notorious Russian arms dealer and the other to a Russian nuclear scientist’s facilitation of Iran’s atom bomb project. Both acts would have spelt the end of the US-Russian “reset” without the added complications of renewed brinkmanship over the placement of a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe and the drubbing delivered to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in a transparently fraudulent parliamentary election on December 4th.

First the arms dealer. On November 2nd, Viktor Bout was sentenced in a New York court of attempting to sell heavy weapons to FARC, Colombia’s Marxist-Leninist terrorist group. Nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” and vaguely the model for Nicolas Cage’s character in the forgettable film Lord of War, Bout was a one-man clearinghouse of post-Soviet munitions for dictators and murderous regimes. There was scarcely a civil war fought in Africa in the 1990s and 2000s—and consequently, a limb dismembered or body decimated—without Bout’s hardware. He was chummy with the indicted war criminal and ex-president of Liberia, Charles Taylor. According to Bout’s biographer, Douglas Farah, the Merchant of Death was also seen schmoozing with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, just prior to the second Israel-Lebanon War, which saw the Party of God firing Russian-made, armor-piercing antitank weapons that shocked even the IDF in terms of their sophistication and impact.

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