Your views are extensive and impressive. The thing with Russia that you're also no doubt aware of is that they went through quite a dark period after perestroika that nearly, but didn't run the Russian ecconomy into the ground. Russia went through a deep recession, and had a whole lot of debt to pay down. The easy thing to do i to say Russia caused that by over posturing in the initial arms race. I'm not old enough or wise enough to understand what happened in the Cold War in Russia beyond the propaganda. While its easy to throw around the "In Soviet Rusia" jokes this does not progress the discussion forward in any meaningful way and while I can understand the sentiments people had at the time, and many people still have them I drag it back to the same thing. That's nice but what does holding that view actually get to the bottom of?
Mostly purely very personal feelings of resentment with no substance to saying anything other than "Well I hate communists" Yes... and what?
My understanding of the Cold War is mostly from the ages of zero to 8 years old between 1984-1992, and what just happened? The USSR fell apart a wall came down and a new war started in the Gulf. I only have bits and pieces of memories from those times.
That as an aside, Russia found a lot of new wealth by drilling oil and gas in Siberia and in the Arctic circle which has allowed it to modernise its mostly Cold War era military alongside with its economy. Russia being Russia there is a gulf between those who have benefited a new middle class which is quite big and the uber wealthy tycoons in Russia. The poor and the minorities still suffer and the rule of law is not exactly what you would expect from a modern democratised country, but it is a product of the East and it doesn't conform to Western stereotypes. We must be incredibly careful in diplomacy to recognise the ways and cultures of each nation that we're dealing with and to try to understand and be sympathetic towards understanding why the way things are the way they are.
This is a process of still undoing most of what happened in Soviet Russia and this is another issue which draws parallels with North Korea. That even if there was a possibility for one Korea at this stage the South Koreans would not want the responsibility for pulling the masses out of poverty the way Russia to a lesser extent and China has done in the last thirty years.
There is a new arms race on and we're just as much a part of it as anyone else. I don't like to get to into who owns what and what capabilities people have. I'm a civilian and I've never had the privileged position to be privy to what the defense forces do with their spending or what the government does with its white papers beyond what is released to the public sphere which is far from everything.
I will say this we have a short sightedness here in Australia that is largely caused by our alienation from the rest of the world with large sea borders and masses of land which makes any invasion seem highly improbable, but when I look at our own capabilities and what to do with this in terms of where you're heading which is power conflict I look at what we have got with the Canberra Class and think we should have and could have done better by putting STOVL aircraft on it.
I don't get the point of saying we're never going to have another carrier in the 1980s and buying one now and yet not actually putting any planes on it other than the government excuse "it was the most convenient design." It's short sightedness which causes capability issues in Australia and its not the first time either. Lets look at the Sea Sprite debacle, trying to arm and rearm the F-111 with the Popeye thing and trying to find new air frames, and the amount of issues we got working, but extremely good submarines. There are some issues with the ADF but I can't say exactly what because I am a civilian, never been in the ADF, and don't have a whole lot of insight having never been a publically elected government minister so my strategic foresight I can offer is at the think-tank level.
What I can say is that we need to be part of maritime patrols and we need to keep sea lanes open so we can do what we do in trading with other nations and using this countries greatest strength which is soft power and negotiation. A little hard diplomacy on the sidelines helps to grease the wheels. The way we deal with this situation is the same way we always deal with it. Integration, training operations and the maintenance of our greatest asset which is the AUSCANNZUKUS agreement and FIVE EYES.
We're never going to win that battle alone so we may as well get used to working out how we can pool our resources together to serve our best interests and that includes all of the above nations together and when we do we come back to just what to do with the modernation of China and Russia and how that affects all of us in response.
Yes they are modernising, and we have to act responsibly as a result to make sure we stay within capability ear shot and we need every capability we can get which to me I've already said, plonk those F35s ontop of the Canberra class and change our orders.
People will mistake diplomacy for a sympathy. I have no sympathy for any particular nation other than the one I live in. It's a matter of being able to understand that gives you power on the thin edge of the wedge in discussions unless you want to go back to super power conflict which just boils down to my gun is bigger than yours. My view is you may as well watch this cartoon instead. It resolves all the issues of being a realist.
The final nail in the coffin is that I'm not a realist, some may even say due to my insight into historical and cultural insights that are significant I'm a constructivist, but that's a very messy IR school of thought if there is one. What that has me pinned down in believing though is that we can negotiate things rather than blow them up.