She began the weekend with a pretty significant muscle flex, reasserting America's aim of building a missile shield in Europe -- and pointedly, in Poland, exactly where Russia hadn't wanted it previously.
I'll suggest the move had two points of significance. Firstly, on the heels of Dima Medvedev's visit with President Obama recently, I expect this was not entirely unanticipated by the Russians. There hasn't been a whole of of discussion of the move coming from Russia. In fact, the move is being posed in a much more conciliatory manner:
"We will continue this dialogue so that Russia and us can work together on the creation of a global missile defense system," [US ambassador to Russia] Beyrle was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as telling students at the Moscow Steel Institute.Russia has clearly been benefiting from the "reset" policy, and apparently feels that it has more to lose by ending that progress than by cooperating. Of such is diplomacy made, and I'll say that the "reset" is looking more and more like a real success for Obama's foreign policy and focus on diplomacy.
The move also was undoubtedly aimed at Georgia, where Clinton capped her tour. It was high time for that visit, after President Obama snubbed Saakashvili at the April nonproliferation conference in Washington. But Georgia now seems to think it has also reaped benefits from the reset, and that's a very big deal.
Azerbaijan was a soft spot, and highlights the precariousness of the continuing war in Afghanistan. Clinton was largely laughed out of Azerbaijan by its democracy activists, having done little more than parrot regime talking points and mouthing some platitudes about "democracy." That's saddening to say the least, but it reflects a larger geopolitical reality: Azerbaijan is, in addition to being a major oil and gas producer and transit point, a major hub for materiel going into and out of Afghanistan. And that means that the US doesn't have a whole lot of choice in how we handle the country.
Moreover, she doesn't appear to have made any progress on settling the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia (not that any could really be expected right now, with a fresh round of violence only just cooling off). Clinton has made attempts previously to broker a deal, only to have them undone at the last moment. But the questions remains: are these losses enough to justify shoring up Azerbaijani support for transit missions to Afghanistan?