LAVROV AND RICE AT THE UNITED NATIONS: A COMMENT
"Well, a lot of that’s going to be up to those of us in NATO, at the European Union and the United States, to make certain that Russia understands that any further push would not be beneficial to them. But the truth of the matter is they achieved none of their strategic objectives in attacking Georgia. They attacked a small neighbor with overwhelming regional military force. Now, you and I would have known that that was possible before they did it. They did not succeed in bringing down Georgian democracy. They did not succeed in destroying the Georgian economy. They have recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, these breakaway regions, and their diplomatic company is Hamas and Nicaragua. That’s hardly a diplomatic triumph.
And there has been – and all that they’ve done is to call into question their suitability for the diplomatic, economic, and security institutions of an integrated international community. And for a country whose president, whose new president has said that he understood that Russia’s future really rested in integration into the international community, that Russia doesn’t want to be just an energy supplier for the world, it wants to be a country that draws on its brainpower, its ability to do the kinds of things that we do in the Silicon Valley where I’m from, that Russia is never going to succeed trying to be 19th century Russia that beats up on small neighbors.
So this hasn’t been – this hasn’t worked out very well for Russia, I think....
Well, we all know that Russia is not a debtor nation because it is – because of the price of oil, essentially. That’s really what this is. And Russia can continue to be a kind of tertiary resource supplier for its entire existence, or it can try to diversify its economy. It can try to deal with, by the way, the crippling problems that it has, including a sadly unhealthy population, a birthrate that is not going to even succeed in replacing the Russian population. It can deal with the fact that it doesn’t have the infrastructure that it needs to be a diversified economy. Or it can be a resource supplier. And the leverage, really, rests in the fact that I think that Russians have become accustomed to some of the benefits of having broken out of Russia’s – or of the Soviet Union’s isolation, whether it is travel or the 30-year mortgages that are very popular in Russia, or the ability for Russian businesses to actually have a role in the international economy. That’s what’s at risk if Russia tries to have it both ways: 19th century Russia or Soviet tactics, and trying to be a part of the international economy. Russia can’t have it both ways, and that’s the leverage".
American Secretary of State Rice, 23 September 2008, www.state.gov
"We don't believe it's right to make very the important items on our agenda hostage to the emotions and to feeling of being offended. There should be no such feeling," Lavrov said. "We acted [in Georgia], as I said, on the basis of international law, we have been protecting the lives of the Russian peacekeepers who had been attacked by their Georgian comrades, because there was a joint peacekeeping force....a combination of reasons -- first of all, moral, legal, [and] pragmatic" made Russia's military intervention in Georgia "the only possible solution."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, 24th September 2008, in www.cfr.org
One of the upshots so far of the meetings at the United Nations in New York this week, is that due to the irrational American animus vis-`a-vis Russia, the contact group ("3 plus 3") handling the matter of Persia's quest for nuclear weapons will not meet, much less impose more sanctions. As readers of this journal may recall, back in early to mid-July, when EU foreign policy supremo Javier Solana went to Tehran to make a modus vivendi proposal to the Persians, there was a deadline of approximately six weeks for the Persians to either accept the proposed offer or not. That deadline has long since past. And, yet here we are in New York in the latter part of September, and, the contact group is not even meeting, much less willing to contemplate further sanctions on the regime of mad mullahs (see: "Moscow's Iran Policy: a question of balancing priorities", 24 September 2008, in www.rferl.org).
What exactly is the logic of the American position vis-`a-vis Moskva? How much exactly does the USA wish to lose or destroy in its quest for attempting to damage Russia? Does not Rice, Bush, Hadley, et. al., realize that Russia has more leverage than the USA at the current time, and, push comes to shove, will not be be shy in using said leverage? To give one example: Russia in the Spring of 2008, gave NATO forces in Afghanistan permission to cross Russia proper in order to supply its troops in the former country. Convoys coming from the northern part of the country being safer than those entering from the south, aka Pakistan. Indeed, just this past week, Pakistan temporarily banned some supply convoys, as a tit for tat, in response to American cross border incursions (see: www.ft.com). Instead of the lightweight Rice indulging lectures which have very little in the way of credibility worldwide, she and her cohorts in the American government would be better off, doing a very hardheaded calculation about the costs involved in pursuing an essentially illogical policy towards matushka Roissya. Before more than merely the meetings of the contact group on Persia are lost or cancelled.