Bear At The Door?

David Rothkopf thinks that Russia could be a bigger threat than Pakistan:

Russia, has been rattling its rusty sabers more frequently recently. There was the story the other day about its submarines off the U.S. coast, the not so comforting rebuttal today by one of its top generals, its recent naval exercises with the Iranians, its generally non-constructive attitude toward dealing with the Iranian nuclear problem, its belligerent rumblings throughout its near abroad ... the list goes on. And this is a country that has the ability, as the submarine (and earlier strategic bomber readiness) stories suggest, to project force anywhere in the world. [...] (For a very good take on Russia, see today's op-ed by one of our best experts on the country, Steve Sestanovich, in the Washington Post.)

Russia also has, as Joe Biden impoliticly noted, some problems that could be complicating factors. In short, the bear has the wolf at its door-demographically and economically. Biden interpreted these as factors that might weaken Russia. But they are also the kind of factors that often inspire leaders to dangerous postures and strategies.

David Satter is also worried. But Larison scoffs at their hand wringing:

Our government arms and trains the military of a neighboring state [Georgia], which then uses its army to escalate a war with Russia and kill Russian soldiers, and it is Russia that has an “aggressive stance.” [...] We try to bring every former satellite and province into our anti-Russian military alliance, and it is Russia that is the aggressor. When Russia has the gall to protest against these provocations and aggressive moves, or even dares to retaliate against attacks on its soldiers and the populations under their protection, it is Russia that must be acting aggressively. The most frustrating thing about these lies is that they are so transparent and incredible, but they are nonetheless widely accepted and believed. [...]

P.S. Scoblete offers one of the few sensible comments on this story:

Either way, this should serve as a good reminder that it is jarring when a not-quite-friendly nation brings military power right up to your borders. Food for thought.

Update: WaPo today released details from an intelligence report by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research:

Blair concluded the Russian military "is a shadow of its Soviet predecessor." Its conventional forces are "not a direct military threat to central or western Europe," and its ability to project large forces abroad "is very limited."