Pundita is on vacation and will return to blogging on September 16; in the meantime (excepting on Sundays) the blog will reprise some of her earlier essays. The following Golden Oldie was originally published in January 2005.
"Thank you for introducing me to Peter Lavelle's writings. It's a lot to absorb. From what I'm learning it's evident the media are doing a really bad job keeping Americans informed about Russia. Lavelle writes for UPI so there is good reporting available but it doesn't seem to get featured in the mainstream media, at least not in this country.
However, America is at war. Russia's recent negotiations with Syria and Iran are potentially damaging to the US war effort. Given Putin's lack of support for the US invasion of Iraq, I think he would have gone ahead with the negotiations no matter how fairly the US media might have treated him, and even if there had been no US involvement in Ukraine. There has been talk of imposing sanctions on Russia, so I think the situation is becoming serious.
[Signed] Jan in Reston"
The situation will become serious when there is talk of imposing sanctions on Germany, France, and Britain for their deals with Syria and Iran. Then we'll know the Bush administration is getting down to brass tacks.
Russia is not an ally of the United States; they're a trading partner. It's the NATO countries that are supposed to be our allies. So it's during discussion with our dear allies about their actions in the Middle East that the United States should be making demands. Until we do this, why should Putin or any other non-NATO national leader join the United States in upholding a double standard?
I don't like Putin's negotiations with Syria and Iran but he's following the approach of the EU Three (Germany, France and UK), who dominate the European Union's approach to foreign relations. And if he stops following the E3 and sides with the United States--Bingo! he's made even more enemies in the EU than he did when launching the anti-corruption drive in Russia. Keep in mind Russia has to live on the same continent as the European Union.
If the State Department would not deploy a double standard with regard to NATO allies, if they adopted a position of integrity, as Bush did by refusing to deal with Arafat, then Putin and other non-NATO national leaders would be looking at a different ball game. How they might react, don't know, but integrity is catching--particularly when it's practiced by the world's leading nation.
Now that we have that off our chest, Pundita takes your point. If we study the Bush war plan, we see that Syria is the next weakest spoke in the Axis of Evil. So Putin's negotiations with Assad, and Russian sales of military equipment to Syria, are of grave concern to the US.
But again, the negotiations of our allies with Syria and Iran are of greater concern at this time. They've already told us to go sit on a tack, if we want military help in dealing with Syria and Iran. More than that, they've signaled they will work to marshal world resistance against any US action, including embargo, which the US wants to take against Iran.
This is showdown time with our NATO allies. But instead of showing up at the OK Corral, Washington wants to hang out in the saloon and talk about Russia. Put yourself in Vladimir Putin's place and look at the situation. Why should he listen to what Bush asks him to do with regard to Syria? When he can see with his own eyes that US allies have no intention of listening to Bush with regard to Syria and Iran?
The lame excuse is that they don't like Bush's style. What they don't like is a US policy that places integrity and consistency in foreign relations above expediency. So we are right back to the central debate, which pits the Bush Democracy Doctrine against the Chirac School.
And given that roughly half the US voters side with the Chirac School, those Americans young at heart enough to believe this can be Liberty's Century have a great deal of groundwork to do.
When more Americans get clear on the Democracy Doctrine and how it works in practice, there will be greater force behind the words of the US Secretary of State in negotiations with our allies. As it is now, we're just whistling Dixie. And Putin and a host of other national leaders know this.
This to include our dear ally Israel. What in the Sam Hill were the Israelis doing selling weapons to China? When Pundita last checked, there is only one China. So this would be the same China that helped the Iranians and every other Jew-hating government build nukes. Then Sharon rings up Bush, "Oh they've got the Bomb!"
But if you know that, then why did you sell weapons to China, which makes a career out of counterfeiting weapons and selling knockoffs to the highest bidder? What is this, the Kindergarten Age? Is this what our ancestors invented copper and iron for?
But I see we've descended from polemics to sputters, so this might be the time for a critter story. Most people don't know this but beavers are the best negotiators; they have to be, to avoid being mauled by creatures who don't have the concept of dam building down pat. The beaver has to clamber around the river bank and chew down trees. Imagine yourself a bear listening to that racket. So the beavers have to communicate to the local yokels that they don't plan to stay long and that all they want is some lumber.
One day I asked the beaver member of Pundita's foreign policy team, "Just how does a beaver negotiate logging rights?"
He replied, "Sincerely."
A reply to remember during our foreign relations dealings, especially during war. If we want Russia to throw up a few less roadblocks to the Bush war plan, the request should come with the sincere assurance that he won't keep pulling knives out of his back.