Friday, January 20, 2006
Ukraine, Turkey, Germany
But I'm tired of the Ukraine bait and switch here in Washington--where policymakers and pundits talk a good game about integrating Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community but are unprepared to pay the costs.
If U.S. national interests are best served by substantially changing the balance of power in Eurasia--and one can make a case for acting now to reshape the Eurasian environment, say by a major expansion of NATO--then do it--and be prepared for what it will cost.
Instead, Ukraine is being "Turkified"--if I can create that adjective. Remember how Turkey was promised it would be brought into the European community--by Charles de Gaulle? That was BEFORE I WAS BORN. For more than forty years, Turkey has been kept on the interdeterminate list. There were good reasons, but at what point should the Europeans have levelled with the Turks and said, full membership is not guaranteed to be on the table?
Ukrainians are being told they have a "European/Western" choice to make--but in reality they don't have a choice to the extent the Western option is not viable.
And speaking of Turkey--let's round out the discussion by talking about the two visits of Angela Merkel, to Washington and Moscow.
I recognize that symbolism and "impressions" are important components in the conduct of international affairs. Merkel has a much better relationship with Bush than her predecessor, and that was made abudantly clear. Similarly, I doubt Merkel will be getting any invitations to cozy get-togethers with the Putins at their dacha.
But what about the substance? Merkel could not give Washington firm assurances on two matters which are high-priority for the United States--that Turkey is on track for EU membership, not a "privileged partnership", and that Berlin sees eye to eye not only on the Iranian threat but what to do about it. Certainly a better dialogue than with Schroeder, that is for sure--but still nothing firm.
And while Merkel and Putin are "colleagues" rather than "friends" the core of the Russian-German partnership remains unaffected. The Baltic pipeline project is on track, Siemens is buying into a major Russian military-industrial complex, trade and business ties continue without interruption. Sure, Merkel met with NGO leaders in Moscow--just as Bush went to church in Beijing. Important symbolic gestures--but with the message that the core relationship remains unaffected.
On that note, we the West should be entirely willing to "buy" Ukraine from Russia -- making sure that Moscow holds up its end of the transaction. The entry of Ukraine into the West, however, can be done on those terms in a gradual, methodical way. Although Turkey may be frustrated at the excruciating slowness of its accession to the EU, from a U.S. perspective that sort of creeping membership would be far better than many alternatives for Ukraine. Let Ukraine move slowly toward the West -- so long as it moves inexorably.
Go to the web page of your very own CIA: cia.gov, and find the link to their World Factbook. Compare the vital statistics found there for Ukraine and that "Moscow-tilting satrapy" Belarus. You will find there that people in Belarus have a higher birth rate, a lower death rate, and have fewer of their babies die than people in Ukraine.
Perhaps you will then come to understand that, for the people who have to live there, there are worse things than living in a "Moscow-tilting satrapy". And one of them is living in a "Washington-tilting satrapy".
Turkey is not threatened by Russia the way Turkey was threatened by the USSR. In fact, Turkey has booming relations with Russia and similar perspectives about the international system. Turkey is also not threatened by Iran. There is no incentive for Ankara to carry Washington's water in needlessly antagonzing Moscow or Tehran if Washington can't guarantee that there will be no Kurdistan and that Turkey will be admitted to the EU.
It's in the interests of the Russians themselves (though not their leaders) that this model take root in the FSU.
And life. But I guess that's still missing the point.
"It's in the interests of the Russians themselves (though not their leaders) that this model take root in the FSU."
Interesing that you know so much about what is in the interests of the Russians themselves. Pray tell Charlie, how did you acquire it? Or are you just upset that Vladimir differs from Boris in that dosen't say "How high?" on the way up when the US says "Jump!"?
Improved democracy and freedom? - No.
Reformed economy? - No.
Solved problem at Caucasus? - No.
What is a reality in Russia:
Putin became billionaire!
- confiscation of big private businesses
- just illusion of stability
- corruption is flourishing everywhere
- no democracy, no free press and no real freedom of speach.
- rising costs of living.
- 60% of budget comes from oil and gas
- no economic reform
- exKGB and FSB officers rule almost everything
- intimidation & economic and political provocations in neighbouring countries and EU
- growing xenophobia and nationalism
Russia is going to collaps and nightmere just after the prices for oil drop less 45$. The question is just time.....