Streetwise Professor

October 20, 2009

Hillary’s Excellent Moscow Adventure

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 4:34 pm

“Excellent,” in the same way that an unanesthetized root canal would be.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, Hapless Hillary handed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei (“The Tarantula”) Lavrov a button that was supposed to say “reset” in Russian, but actually said “overcharge.”  The Russians find the overcharge idea quite appealing, thank you, and are doing their best to take advantage of HH’s generous offer to overcharge the US at every turn, as Vladimir Socor makes clear (depressing reading alert):

On October 13, the Secretary Security Council Nikolai Patrushev announced the Kremlin’s intentions to change Russia’s military doctrine with regard to the use of nuclear weapons. The amendments substantially lower the threshold for such use. They envisage the possibility of Russian nuclear strikes at an operational-tactical level in regional and local conflicts. Under the amendments, Russia explicitly reserves the right to carry out preventive nuclear strikes in such conflicts; and also the option of first use of nuclear weapons if necessary to prevail in a conventional regional or local conflict (Izvestiya, Interfax, international news agencies, October 14).

The U.S. delegation failed to respond to this well-publicized, clearly pre-planned, and apparently unanticipated challenge to core U.S. positions.

The Obama administration has made the political objective of nuclear disarmament a top priority of its Russia policy. It has also given up the planned anti-missile shield in Central Europe, hoping for a Russian quid-pro-quo on U.S. concerns in other theaters (a deal precluded, however, from the outset by the administration’s own arguments for abandoning the shield). Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation topped the agenda of Clinton’s visit. Moscow’s public response through Patrushev amounts to a rejection of the U.S. administration’s nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation goals. It suggests that Russia will not cooperate in bestowing a nuclear disarmer’s mantle on the American president; and that the anti-missile shield’s abandonment has failed to restrain Moscow, while possibly emboldening it.

Relegating Georgia to the back burner and abandoning the missile shield in Central Europe has not elicited Russian cooperation on Iran sanctions. The U.S. delegation returned empty-handed from Moscow on the sanctions account. In the run-up to the visit, the White House and State Department had optimistically interpreted a highly ambiguous statement by Medvedev at the United Nations that Russia does not necessarily rule out support for another round of sanctions against Iran. With the administration’s own timetable for imposing “crippling,” or at least “biting” sanctions on Iran expiring, and with the missile shield’s abandonment expected to elicit Russian cooperation at the last moment, the U.S. delegation hoped to demonstrate success on that account in Moscow.

. . . .

Faced with multiple U.S. solicitations at every high-level meeting, Moscow feels that it can wait out and manipulate the process through arbitrary linkages and trade-offs.

The U.S.-Russia joint working group on civil society issues is widely seen as representing a U.S. unilateral concession, rather than a classical trade-off.

All take, no give.  Nothing for something.  That’s the essence of overcharge.  And unilateral concessions and repeated solicitations are an invitation to ask for more, more, more; to jack up the price; to overcharge at will.  The administration literally asked for it with the lame mis-labeled button.  Now they are figuratively asking for it again and again by repeatedly playing the supplicant.

Sadly, this is becoming a pattern, as Iran’s gladly taking the quid and telling Obama to fuggidabout the quo makes plain.

Apparently the operating principle behind the administration’s diplomatic approach is predicated on a form of projection: everybody is just like us and will reciprocate gestures of goodwill.  It is diplomacy by the golden rule.

The Russians and Iranians (and the NoKos) make it plain, moreover, that they view this as chumplomacy, and have no interest whatsoever in reciprocity.  They’re quite happy at taking what the chumps naively offer.

Oh, what a better world ‘twould be if the golden rule were an empirical fact.  But it ain’t.  Far from it.  In the world as it is, rather than as we wish it would be, such dreamy, delusional approaches are extremely dangerous.  They only encourage the most incorrigible and malign elements, and undermine the safety and prosperity of the peaceable.

It took the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to awake Jimmy Carter from his similarly naive reveries.  Will it take something so catastrophic to awaken Obama and Hillary to the true natures of the Russians, Iranians, et al?  I hope not, but am resigned to the likelihood that it will.

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  1. Obviously it will take at least two Afghanistans, since we’ve already had one. It was called Georgia 2008.

    Bob Dylan’s question is highly apropos: “How many deaths will it take til he/she knows, that too many people have died?”

    Comment by La Russophobe — October 20, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  2. Laying the bear trap was Carter’s greatest triumph. Zbig said so. 3000 Americans can’t be wrong!

    Comment by So? — October 21, 2009 @ 5:04 am

  3. Such prolixity, such venom. Is this your full-time job?

    Comment by So? — October 23, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  4. Moderator, please ignore the last comment. (wrong post).

    Comment by So? — October 23, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

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