One of our resident lefty commenters was reduced to arguing in the Headlines thread that President McCain wouldn’t have any better answers to this than The One would. Which may or may not be true, but speaks volumes about the state of Hopenchange these days. From “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” to “we’re no worse than the guy who lost” in less than two months:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Moscow will begin a comprehensive military rearmament from 2011.

Mr Medvedev said the primary task would be to “increase the combat readiness of [Russia’s] forces, first of all our strategic nuclear forces“.

Explaining the move, he cited concerns over Nato expansion near Russia’s borders and regional conflicts…

Analysts say the brief war in Georgia exposed problems with outdated equipment and practices within Russia’s armed forces and led to calls for military modernisation.

Really? How do we get from problems with their tanks or whatever in Georgia to Medvedev rattling his nuclear saber here?

I’ve been assuming that Russia’s recent provocations, like wanting to station bombers in Cuba, are just a way to gain bargaining leverage with Obama over missile defense in eastern Europe, but the more I think about it, the less sense that makes. If, as many believe, The One isn’t all that keen on the program in the first place, then the obvious way to give him political cover to abandon it is to buddy up to him, declare yourselves believers in a new hopier, changier peaceful era, and humor him and his “reset button” crap until he cancels the missile shield. Instead they’re doing the opposite, escalating tensions to the point where he’ll have no choice but to follow through on it lest he appear weak. Which, I suspect, may mean that these moves are designed as much for Russian domestic consumption (if not more) as for Obama’s. With oil prices dropping and economic terror afoot, Putin and Medvedev have to show a strong nationalist hand to keep the public calm and focused on external enemies. Exit question: What fate does that same logic portend for Obama’s outreach to Iran?