The world: today’s quick takes
A few quick takes… Word is coming out of Moscow that the Russians who met with the Obama team were underwhelmed. They felt the Americans were “naïve” and “arrogant”, that they didn’t listen well and simply listed demands. While the Americans on the trip came back crowing about their success, the Russians fumed about the ...
A few quick takes…
- Word is coming out of Moscow that the Russians who met with the Obama team were underwhelmed. They felt the Americans were “naïve” and “arrogant”, that they didn’t listen well and simply listed demands. While the Americans on the trip came back crowing about their success, the Russians fumed about the president being holed up in his hotel with his wife and kids blowing off productive time with his Russian counterparts and Putin was apparently not thrilled with the breakfast timing of his meeting. As if the rumblings of discontent (from multiple high level sources) were not enough, of course, the fact that the Russians then went straight to the G8 meeting at which they were nothing short of uncooperative on the issue of Iran adds fuel to the idea that the Moscow trip was something of a missed opportunity.
- On Iran, Russia seems likely to continue to drag its feet when it comes to pressing Tehran hard on its weapons program…even in September when G8 spokespeople said would be the time the eight have agreed to take action. This underscores my view that the only way to get effective multilateral pressure on Iran is by getting China on board. Ultimately, what China will agree to is what will end up happening because unless they agree Russia won’t do a thing and the Europeans will hang back. Once China agrees, the Euros will stay in line and Russia will face isolation…and is likely therefore to be more flexible.
- Honduras is working out very well for the Obama administration … whether by accident or design. The U.S. gets to have the best of both worlds: we took a strong stance against the coup…and Zelaya doesn’t seem to be making much headway in getting back. We look virtuous and have one less democratically elected enemy of democracy in the region.
- Tina Brown at the Daily Beast jumped on the “Free Hillary” bandwagon today but she did it in rather sexist fashion, casting her as Obama’s foreign policy “wife.” I can think of some male members of the cabinet are also being neglected in order to serve the vision of the policy architects in the West Wing. That said, borrowing Tina Brown’s analogy, Hillary’s foreign policy husband would do well to note how much better off her real husband would have been had he respected and treated her a little better.
- In the horse trading department, it’s interesting to note that as the White House scrambles for votes on health care, it is considering appointing a second person closely associated with key Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus as a Deputy United States Trade Representative. Demetrios Marantis, former chief international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee is already in one DUSTR slot and former Baucus aid Michael Punke is now a leading contender for the DUSTR slot based in Geneva. Yet another Baucus aide, Carol Guthrie, is assistant USTR for communications. Seems like Baucus is a pretty expensive vote…but come on, give another Senator or two a chance. Or better yet, for the Geneva job get someone who actually has some international trade negotiating experience. (And I say this as a guy who knew Michael Punke years ago…and who likes him a lot. He definitely should have a good job somewhere in the government if he wants it. And no one in the Senate knows trade better than Baucus. But a little balance on this front, please.)
DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images
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