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Jewish World Review
Oct. 19, 2009
/ 1 Mar-Cheshvan 5770
Hillary Goes to Moscow, Or: What, No Umbrella?
This administration doesn't practice appeasement but, to use its newspeak, constructive dialogue. Not that the results are any different. Remember when it canceled plans for an anti-missile defense system in Eastern Europe? The Poles and Czechs must have had a familiar feeling (betrayal) but the Russians were going to make it all worthwhile. Moscow would form a common front with Washington and the West to keep Iran's mullahs from developing nuclear weapons. Peace through weakness!
Hillary Clinton went to Moscow the other day to collect on that empty promise, or maybe just empty hope. What she got was a polite nyet. Not even a worthless scrap of paper to wave in front of a cheering crowd, a la Neville Chamberlain after Munich in 1938. Now, in 2009, Russia's foreign minister explains that the time is not yet ripe to employ economic sanctions against Teheran and, as anyone who has followed Russian policy might know, it may never be.
The upshot: Washington has given up its best bargaining chip with the Russians in exchange for ... a snub. This new but somehow familiar Russia has agreed, however, to process Iran's nuclear fuel. This is supposed to be assuring.
There on Wednesday's front page was a picture of our secretary of state standing next to the Russian foreign minister, her smile painted on. She was as convincing as she'd been in the good old Clintonesque days, when she went on television to explain how she made that unlikely fortune in the commodities market all by her little self.
That stellar performance won her an award from "TV Guide" in 1994 for "best performance" of the year. And she deserved it. This week's act wasn't quite up to her old standards. Her audience may have caught on since. Certainly the Russians have.
This time we're supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton went to Moscow without any expectation that the Russians would agree to join the West in applying economic sanctions against a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. On the contrary, Mrs. Clinton insists she made no such request of the Russians during her visit.
Maybe she ought to pass that word to her staff. Just the day before, an unnamed official traveling with the American delegation had assured the press that Mrs. Clinton planned to ask the Russians to support "specific forms of pressure" against Teheran. That official better stay unnamed if he values his career. Nothing is more dangerous to a diplomat than telling the truth.
Of course our secretary of state is coming back from Moscow with empty hands. It's become the latest diplomatic vogue to turn the Americans down. Everybody from the International Olympic Committee to our European allies does it. Remember when Chicago was a cinch to get The Games, the Europeans were going to accept their share of those dangerous prisoners at Guantanamo, and the Libyans weren't going to give their most famous terrorist, the Hero of Lockerbie, a triumphant welcome home?
Now this administration is going to tame the Russian bear. Preparatory to preventing Iran from becoming the next nuclear power. Right.
Instead, from North Korea to Iran and beyond, appeasement is bearing its usual bitter fruit: more abasement, more failure and an ever greater danger of war here, there and everywhere. It's quite an accomplishment when you think about it: What other American administration has ever made the French president look like a strong, realistic, clear-eyed leader by comparison?
Like so many others, the Russians have noticed that this American president is no Ronald Reagan. He's more a Jimmy Carter, and so are the results of his kick-me diplomacy. At this point, his loyal secretary of state -- once a proud, strong-minded woman -- is more to be pitied than despised.
Paul Greenberg Archives
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