Washington Diarist: Unmending Wall
November 19, 2009
The absence of Barack Obama from Berlin on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall may be explained in many ways, and one of the explanations may be his view of the world. He is kein Berliner. No, he is not soft on communism, not least because there is no longer any communism, at least of the classical kind, to be soft on. In the video message that was broadcast to the commemoration--it allowed him once again to have the stage to himself, and to describe his own election as a climactic event in “human destiny”--Obama spoke all the right words for all the right sentiments.
Russia Upset With Holbrooke Over Afghan Drug Policy
November 18, 2009
An tricky difference of opinion on how to deal with Afghanistan's massive opium trade: The U.S. does not want to address the problem of drug production in Afghanistan, said Russia's anti-narcotics chief after talks with U.S. Special Envoy for AfPak Richard Holbrooke. "My meeting with Holbrooke unfortunately confirmed our fears that they are not prepared to destroy the production of drugs in Afghanistan," Viktor Ivanov, head of the Federal Narcotics Control Service, told Russian journalists on Tuesday, hours after Mr. Holbrooke left Moscow for Kabul after one-day consultations. Mr.
November 09, 2009
Monday marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is worth pausing to recall just how momentous, and unanticipated, this event and those that followed were. My students today have no memory of the cold war; to them, Prague and Budapest, just like Paris and Madrid, are simply places to visit or study in Europe.
October 27, 2009
After years of stalemate, negotiations over Iran's controversial nuclear development program seemed to progress last week when an Iranian delegation in Vienna agreed to the export and modification of its low-enriched uranium. The resulting optimism did not last. Officials in Tehran demurred, insisting that they needed more time to study the proposal and could not meet Friday's deadline to ratify the agreement. While Iran's stonewalling came as a disappointment to the United States, it did not come as a surprise.
October 26, 2009
Americans are used to presidential candidates promising to get tough on China only to turn tail once they are in office. Could the same be true of German Chancellor’s promises to get tough with Russia? The Financial Times has an extraordinary report on “The New Ostpolitik,” between Germany and Russia. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel first ran four years ago, she was highly critical of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s warm relationship with the Russians. Indeed, after leaving office, Schroeder became the chairman of Nord Stream, which is owned by the Russian firm, Gazprom, and is deve
No, not Dwight Eisenhower (and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles), who thought of his Arabs as the Egyptians. Frankly, in 1956, nobody thought of Palestinians, including especially the Palestinians. And, no, not even Jimmy Carter, who, while now especially entranced with the Palestinians, including Hamas, was beginning his macabre infatuation with Hafez Assad. Then there was George Herbert Walker Bush and his sidekick James Baker, who didn't much like the Jews but wanted especially to please the Saudis. The U.S.
"Russia Disses Iran Sanctions"
October 13, 2009
Well, that’s the way I read the headline in The Washington Post. “Russia Dismisses Iran Sanctions” was how it was actually written, followed by “Russian Foreign Minister: Threats of Iran Sanctions Won’t Work.” The dispatch is from Mary Beth Sheridan, a savvy reporter to whom I’m becoming attached. There are slight differences between the Post piece and the report in the Times, “Russia Resists U.S. Position on Sanctions for Iran,” by Mark Landler and Clifford J. Levy. Then there was “US, Russia: Iran No sanctions yet” in The Jerusalem Post.
Hillary in Moscow: Will the New START Treaty Cripple Conventional U.S. Military Power?
October 13, 2009
The news surrounding today's meeting between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is pretty bad. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken the opportunity to dump cold water on our hopes for more Iran sanctions and to trumpet a Sino-Russian gas pipeline deal that would weaken our hand in Central Asia. But, despite all that, it's worth keeping in mind that the "New START" treaty that Hillary is in Moscow to negotiate is a solid one. The deal would supplant both START I, the arms-control treaty signed by George H.W.
October 13, 2009
At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.
October 08, 2009
After the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008, the European Union found itself in a difficult position. Moscow had not only invaded a neighbor for the first time since the Soviet assault on Afghanistan in 1979. In recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, it had also broken the cardinal rule of post-cold war European security: that borders in Europe would never again be changed by force of arms. Yet Georgia, too, had clearly made mistakes, not the least in embroiling itself in a military conflict with Russia that Georgia's own allies had repeatedly warned against.