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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Boston Globe Blasts Condi's Limp Confrontation of Putin

A reader points out that a Boston Globe editorial says Condi could have done much more on her recent visit to Russia. LR is disappointed to say that she couldn't agree more. Tsk, tsk, Condi! History is watching you!

DURING HER visit to Russia Tuesday for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did what a diplomat ought to do: She asked for a cooling of "overheated" rhetoric. "I don't throw around terms like 'new Cold War,' " Rice noted, prudently. "It's a big, complicated relationship, but it's not one that is anything like the implacable hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union."

There is wisdom in Rice's attempt to keep provocative oratory -- as when Putin recently seemed to compare US behavior to that of the Third Reich -- from making US-Russia relations even more strained than they already are. But as much as the Bush administration may need Russia's cooperation to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, or to counter terrorist networks, most of the stress in relations between Washington and Moscow is caused by Putin's regime. And it does no good to pass over in complete silence the rapacity, the crookedness, and the bullying of that authoritarian regime.

Rice did meet Tuesday with selected Russian human rights activists and journalists. She used them as a sounding board to gauge popular Russian reactions to a United Nations plan that would grant postwar Kosovo a form of independence from Serbia. She was told that if the plan was implemented against the will of the Serbs, it could induce an "anti-American hysteria" in Russia.

It is all well and good to harvest such advice from human rights defenders and independent journalists, but they desperately need more solidarity and public support than they have been receiving from the West. This failure of solidarity has been more conspicuous among governments of Western Europe than in Washington, and it has caused tension between former Soviet satellites, such as Poland and Estonia, and the Kremlin's avid energy customers in Western Europe.

Speaking to a seminar at Harvard's Davis Center for Russian studies Tuesday, Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer for Mikhail Khodorkosvky, the imprisoned former CEO of the Yukos oil company, described the European banks, corporations, and governments doing business with the Kremlin's state-owned energy corporations as "enablers of kleptocracy." Russian journalists who have seen brave colleagues assassinated in unsolved murders and human rights activists who are treated like traitors or spies deserve a public sign of support from Rice and envoys from the democratic nations of Europe.

True, the Soviet Union has vanished, and the Cold War is over. But if Putin's kleptocrats are allowed to have their way, their Western energy customers will become as vulnerable to the Kremlin's thuggish ways as the isolated, endangered democrats within Russia


Russian patriot said...

...most of the stress in relations between Washington and Moscow is caused by Putin's regime.

Not right. Most of the stress is caused by the USA who "tricked" Russia when in the end of 80-s and early 90-s promised first not to expand the NATO, than not to deploy the NATO troops in the new NATO memebers-former Soviet block states, than by bombing Yugoslavia, than by cheating the whole World to justify invasion in Iraq. Then come USA "interests" and military bases around Russia, "coloured revolutions", their welcoming Georgia and pulling the Ukraine to the NATO, plans to deploy ABM system in Check Republic and Poland... Add here the US support of Yeltsyn and advisers on his reforms so destructive to Russia...
Iraq failure has chilled the USA ambitions a little bit but the attitude: "We are the only superpower, we are going to do what we want, and we do not give a damn about what the others may think about it"-still alive, yet not that loud like before.
The USA are trying "to cut" Russia all the time. What love from Russians they may expect?

Commenting said...

Oh. It's sad to see that "patriotism" does not always go with "know your facts".

Let's see:
- Where are those NATO troops in the new NATO states? Are you talking about Baltic Air Police? In that case, yes, 4 planes sound like a major airbase. As if Russia and Belorussia do not try to violate Baltic air space every other day.
- How the hell is NATO involved with Iraq war? This is personal trouble of USA and selected allies, not NATO.
- Georgia and Ukraine? Ever heard of "sovereignty" concept? Sure, it might be hard for you to grasp. And, by the way, it's NOT defined as "doing as Russia says."

Commenting Lithuanian

BEING HAD said...

I am completely sure that the situation in Russia as concerns human rights issues and expectations of anything resembling a strong or even consequential voice from the opposition are exactly the same as they are and have been for Belarus. It is easy to say, from a western perspective, that things do not seem up to snuff or that there seems to be a lack of "western Style" democracy, but it is simply foolish to think that the Russian (or Belarusian) feels any pain as a result. The reality is that the voting public does not really identify with life in Europe in any way other than with luxury items that might be available for purchase. The Life, the pursuit of a living, is so far from European life that any rhetoric from the west usually simply inspires laughter. The realities of day to day existence for ordinary people in the former USSR have much more to do with fulfilling the basic needs of life than style choices or eclectic thought. I think most western pundits make the mistake that folks in the former USSR are simply westerners who got caught up in a charade. This is simply not the case. I don't think that the US or the EU should be surprised at its lack of popular support and for sure, they should not be surprised at RF's rather direct method of doing business.

Oh, and what Russian Patriot has to say is, absolutly, status quo for belarus as well. Bez vapros.

Anonymous said...

This is Hector,

Here is a better cartoon of Condoleezza Rice which republicans try to accuse of being racist