Monday, May 09, 2005

Bush Plays Texas Drop 'Em With Putin

Broken child's car in Chernobyl

The great trip is over. All the photo ops were operated and functioned. All the poses were struck and all the words were spoken. One more utterly messed up diplomatic trip finished. What did our globe trotting child come home with? What agreements and joint ventures and promises of mutual cooperation and future plans did this babbling idiot get?

If one reads major papers like the NYT, this exercise in futility was a rousing success:

President Bush met Sunday night with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in what was widely expected to be a tense encounter after days of recriminations over Russian rollbacks of democracy and the Soviet Union's actions in the World War II era, but the top foreign policy advisers to both men swiftly pronounced the meeting a success.

We know that if Bush doesn't throw up in someone's lap or dangle from the chandelier, his dinner dates are "successful". But why did the Russians call it a success? Let's review the facts: Putin expressed great anger at Bush's demeanor and speeches and actions all the way up until he had dinner with the President of China, Hu. Suddenly, Putin smoothed over roiling waters and showed a smiling face to Bush. Bush fell for this ruse, badly. So did the craven American corporate press. Indeed, the dinner was a great success for the Russians.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, appeared in an unusual joint briefing at a guest house on the grounds of Mr. Putin's presidential dacha outside Moscow to say the two leaders had talked extensively about nuclear proliferation and Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza this summer.

Putin just toured Israel and Palestine. His visit with the Palestinian leader, Abbas, is shrouded in KGB-standard secrecy. His visit with Sharon was more open. He gaged Sharon, saw that Sharon is going to flub the whole thing about "withdrawing" from Gaza and came home, satisfied with his new information. Putin made his living gathering intelligence just like Bush spent his life losing intelligence.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin even took a brief spin on the dacha grounds in a gleaming 1956 Volga, with Mr. Bush at the wheel. In a photograph that is likely to become a symbol of the good will that the White House and Kremlin sought to portray here on a damp spring evening, the two presidents waved from the windows as the car, purchased by Mr. Putin last year, emerged from a forest of birches.

Chitty chitty bang bang will never be forgotten, I hope. Other world leaders will learn from it.

But the two sides announced no formal agreements or breakthroughs, and the meeting seemed more of a place holder until Russia holds a summit meeting of the world's major industrial democracies, the Group of 8, in St. Petersburg next summer.

Readers of this news service know that we track the amazing travels of the successful diplomats, Wen and Hu of China. We know they never come home empty handed. They don't accept promises of some surprise (lordy!) in some future meeting. When India suddenly contacted them when America betrayed India by selling fighter jets to Pakistan, the Chinese leadership didn't waste one minute in flying over and negotiating a swift treaty ending 60 years of sometimes open warfare, settling borders in an historic agreement that got very little coverage in American press. Indeed, all the startling treaties and mutual aid agreements were ignored by our press.

Looks to me like "Independence" Chen of Taiwan is getting ready for reality.
President Chen Shui-bian's new willingness to reconsider his long-standing drive for Taiwanese independence has provoked charges of betrayal and risked alienation of his core supporters.

Following his election five years ago, Chen consistently encouraged loyalists' hopes that he would one day turn Taiwan, which China still claims, into a fully independent country. Now, with his praise for recent visits by two political rivals to the Chinese mainland, he has muted and perhaps relinquished that aim in favor of seeking a negotiated peace -- an end to the state of war that has gripped the Taiwan Strait for more than a half-century.

Rebuffed by every Asian nation but Japan, with Japan's corporate elite wailing at Koizumi because of his destructive political choices are hurting them in more than one Asian nation, with America run by an infant who can't understand anything, Chen sees the writing on the wall. He is preparing his followers for the Great Game of Go's next move: reunification with China. It is now inevitable. A peaceful merger is vastly better than a violent merger. I, personally, feel that the vibrant people of Taiwan, intelligent and hard working, used to democracy they finally gained 12 years ago, will be a great force for change in China, an open window to the world.

Another Chinese diplomatic victory indeed.

Back to the Russian playing Texas Hold 'Em with Bush and his aides:

"These two men have developed a relationship in which they can talk about any subject, and talk about it in a constructive and friendly manner," Mr. Lavrov said.

Ms. Rice said: "I would characterize the relationship as absolutely straightforward. They say what they think, they say what they mean, and then they act on that."

This is so sad. It is beyond sad, it is criminally stupid. Once again, the Bush group imagines diplomatic hand shaking is actually personality politics and that world leaders meeting the Infant Terrible are personally charmed by his antics and can't wait to bend a knee to USA power because they are so happy and pleased to be with him. They think, if someone chats with them and then goes away empty handed, this is a great personal victory. If every time I set out to win a customer, I smooze with them but all the time my inner eagle eye is upon that most valuable item: the signature on the contract. When I hosted the communist Chinese in my home I took them on my quests for contracts so they could understand this vital activity. After each sales visit, we would discuss what I did and why I did these things. I always praised pictures of family once I got a client to show me them. I would discuss the weather, too. All was preliminaries for the real meat of the matter: signing that precious document.

As for the "absolutely straightforward" chat: this shows why America is doomed. Seriously. If I were to meet with a former KGB officer who suddenly took over Russia on New Year's Eve when an obviously drunk and very unhappy Yeltsin suddenly resigned, the last thing I would call him is "absolutely straight forward". One thing though, when Putin met with Hu, both men spoke frankly about geo politics and the blatant American attempt at placing American Go stones all around Russia, moving our military into nearly every former Soviet province that left the Union and I am 100% certain Hu returned in joyous triumph to China with a secret agreement which Putin uttered not a word to Bush about. Taiwan saw this too. And is now preparing for the inevitable surrender.

Eventually Americans will have to figure out for themselves that the juvenile and brainless churning we do is dangerous. When huge Russia warned us to stay out of their backyard, instead of heeding their growls, we merrily went in and places our military deep into a danger zone which we cannot support if we get bogged down in a war in say, Iraq. As we steadily alienate our allies, we court dangerous company who are collectively and individually extremely weak and very exposed. In the game of Go, placing stones in such extended positions is considered suicidal. Here is a Russian paper talking reality from Rice's pre-Bush visit late April when she was supposed to personally negotiate some important agreements:

(Condi) Responding to concerns that American access to nuclear facilities jeopardizes Russian national security, Rice said: "I don't regard the forthcoming inspections as a sovereignty issue. We are talking about cooperation... No one wants nuclear weapons or materials to end up in the hands of the bad guys. The United States and Russia have both experienced terrorism. We all know what could happen if terrorists get their hands on these weapons." According to Rice, she and Ivanov had discussed American inspections of the Russian nuclear facilities.

But Ivanov denied Rice's words, making it plain that inspections of nuclear facilities aren't even on the agenda. "Visits by American inspectors to Russian nuclear facilities are out of the question," he said. "We aren't even discussing it."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more careful with his words. Lavrov reminded journalists that at their meeting in Bratislava, presidents Putin and Bush had "settled the matter by instructing appropriate departments to cooperate in the sphere of security for nuclear materials and nuclear facilities." Lavrov said that he had not been present at Rice's meeting with Ivanov, and had not heard anything about "any new agreements" concerning American inspections of Russian nuclear facilities.

You can bet the professional diplomat, seasoned negotiator Ivanov was more careful than Rice with his words. He knows each word is worth its weight in gold and uses them sparingly. When Rice mistakenly gushed about an agreement she revealed her detachment from reality. There is no signiature on any document. Ergo: no agreement has been reached at all.

With deluded diplomats running America's foreign policy, it is no wonder we are rapidly losing the Great Game of Go. Let's reconsider all this as the game, "Monopoly". We just traded Broadway and Boardwalk, ie, Russia and China, for Baltic Avenue. This is beyond stupid.

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