Dear Secretary Rice
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. State Department
Dear Secretary Rice,
We read that your second-in-command R. Nicholas Burns has tendered his resignation, and that you are thinking of replacing him with our Ambassador to Russia, William J. Burns (no relation). If this indeed comes to pass, you will need a new chief diplomat in Moscow. In that case, we have three words (and a Roman numeral) for you to consider:
Now, with any luck, Senator McCain will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States within the next few months (he's now won major primary contests in New Hampshire and South Carolina), and will go on to win the White House next November, and hence will unavailable to accept your nomination to be America's next Ambassador to Russia. He'll then be making radical changes in our Russia policy, and he himself will name our new ambassador to carry out that policy. But if he's not, and isn't chosen as the nominee's running mate, then he should be our next representative to the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin for the duration of the Bush presidency, hopefully to continue in that role thereafter.
Frankly, we think that Ambassador Burns should have been replaced long ago, for the simple reason that although we follow Russian politics religiously we almost never even hear his name being mentioned. His profile is so low you'd need a magnifying glass to see it, and he ought to be decrying the rise of dictatorship in Russia from every rooftop he can find.
Recent events indicate that an unmistakably strong signal must be sent to the people of Russia that their government is provoking the world's most powerful country and that if they don't take matters into their own hands, they will suffer dire consequences. As we report below, a sensational new book alleges that a major U.N. weapons inspector is a Russian spy. Russia is funneling weapons to our arch enemies in Venezuela and Iran, as well as supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is making outrageous gestures of imperialism both north (towards the Arctic sea floor) and south (towards former slave states like Ukraine and Georgia). And worst of all it is reimposing the vile Soviet tactics of repression against freedom and democracy in Russia itself, all while seeking to weaponize its vast energy resources to be used against us no differently than the USSR used its nuclear weapons.
The people of Ukraine, and their leaders, clearly understand their peril, and for that reason, as we also report below, have just implored NATO for admission; this request must be speedily granted, and the same goes for Georgia. We have just witnessed relentless efforts by Russia to unseat pro-West, popularly elected governments in favor of Russian puppets in both countries, and the only way Russia's determined efforts in this regard can be interrupted by is by bringing them into the NATO fold. If you allow these nations to fall back behind the new Iron Curtain as Hungary and Czechoslovakia did in the past, the judgment of history will fall upon you without mercy.
Actually, all things considered, we think it would be advisable for the U.S. to break diplomatic relations with Russia and treat the country the way China treats Taiwan. Russia is rapidly rehabilitating the USSR, and its people are proving that they never actually thought it was so bad after all. A strong message has to be sent that this position is intolerable to the United States, and no message could be stronger than to shut down our embassy and withdraw our diplomatic staff except for actual military confrontation. Given the way Russia's media and political environments have been choked off and stifled by the Kremlin, only the boldest of moves like this will ever actually come to the attention of Russia's increasingly benighted population.
However, we doubt you have the guts for such a move, no matter how necessary it obviously is.
So the next best thing to do is send in Senator McCain -- or, if he's unavailable, then the woman or man most like him that will accept the position. We'd suggest that the best way of identifying such a person would be to ask Senator McCain himself. He can probably offer many good choices, and we wouldn't presume to second-guess him.
You see, Ms. Rice, Senator McCain understands Russia. He understands dictatorship. Because he's seen it up close, having fallen into its clutches while risking his life to protect our country. So Senator McCain has called for the United States to take vigorous action to stand up to tyranny in Russia, suggesting that the first action we take should be to demand Russia's removal from the G-7 group of Western democracies, which now technically has eight members, if Russia's quasi-member status is counted. We have enough respect for Senator McCain to give him the benefit of the doubt on this; if he thinks we should try that move (and a coordinated set of other steps) before breaking relations, we can accept that.
As General Douglas MacArthur once said: "The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace -- for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Senator McCain, a former soldier, does not call for confrontation lightly, but only when our nation has no other alternative. He has said that, unlike our current president, when he looks in the eyes of Vladimir Putin he sees not his soul but three letters: K-G-B. Nobody who has ever been victimized by that entity can see anything else. President Bush, having lived a rather isolated and protected existence, simply has no idea what it means to be powerless before such an organization, nor seemingly does he understand that Putin has spent his entire life learning how to lie and deceive such as Mr. Bush.
As we've said on this blog many times before, you and your president are in serious jeopardy of leaving behind you a legacy of failure where Russia policy is concerned. To be sure, the deck was stacked badly against you by the gross incompetence, bordering on treason, of Bill Clinton which preceded you. Clinton was caught (and not for the first time) with his pants down when Boris Yeltsin tapped proud KGB spy Putin as his successor, and did nothing to oppose Putin's rise to power. But nobody in the world, including Bill Clinton, forced your boss Dubya Bush to make his obscene remark about looking in Putin's eyes and seeing a trustworthy soul. Maybe you had nothing to do with that remark, or even opposed it, but that doesn't change the fact that if you don't take immediate steps that insipid statement will haunt you for the rest of your life.