Putin and Foreign Policy "Haste"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Putin and Foreign Policy "Haste"

Yesterday, President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel made public statements calling on Iran to rethink its resistance to a proposed accord over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Speaking on the same issue, Russian premier Vladimir Putin issued a statement to a German TV station that included these remarks:
"We believe that the situation should not be brought to a deadlock to deteriorate it. .... We, of course, would like Iran (to) react quicker. But we also have negative examples of how haste in seeking solutions to other, no less sensitive or difficult issues, also in the same region, led to a situation that no one knows how to get out, that is emerging, say, in Iraq."
Putin is half-right and half-wrong.

Did the Bush administration have a clear, pre-determined agenda to invade Iraq? Absolutely. In this respect, the White House acted in "haste." But the Bush administration's decision to invade was, in many respects, facilitated by the unwillingness of France, Germany and Russia to broker any reasonable compromise. Their reluctance helped to provide political cover for Bush's decision.

Essentially, these three countries sat on their hands and were not prepared to do anything worthwhile to enforce the key UN resolution concerning Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps Putin is proud that Russia is stopping the UN from acting in "haste" to stop the suffering in Darfur.

So long as Putin, the Chinese and others continue to block or undermine every effort to exercise meaningful UN action, unilateral action will be encouraged. Multilateralism cannot succeed if the UN remains a toothless tiger.

Yes, haste in foreign policy is a bad thing. But so is the opposite of haste.

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