10.14.2009

Disappointing diplomacy

Personally, the most interesting thing to me about the disappointments of the recent Clinton overtures to Russia was the split it revealed -- not between Russia and the US on Iran, but between Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin:
As if we needed any more evidence that Medvedev was speaking way off script at the UN when he hinted that “sanctions are inevitable” against Iran, Foreign Minister Lavrov took a buzz saw to the whole idea.
This doesn't make the decision to remove missiles from Central Europe a worse one -- it was a bad program from the start, and there are better ways to work with our Central European partners. But putting the ball in Russia's court was an important step to take, and this makes Russia's position much clearer going forward.

Clinton's trip has had another interesting outcome, however, as the opposition members of the Duma staged a powerful political protest. Clearly there are splits to work on, to promote some kind of more real democracy in Russia. One hopes the Obama administration will use that, but given his reaction to Iranian protests, one doesn't expect much.

Update: there may be much more to the walkout than I'd realized at first. A land of smoke and mirrors indeed.