Clinton’s Reassurance Tour and the Withering Reset

clinton070910.jpgWriting in Asia Times Online, MK Bhadrakumar has a good article reviewing Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s recent tour of the former Soviet neighborhood, and a number of stinging statements in response from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs which may indicate a crumbling of the reset policy.  I disagree with any premature dismissal for several reasons.  It’s possible that this article ran before the Ministry pulled 180 degree turn with this sanguine statement, and further it seems clear that the Democrats are heavily leaning on the reset as an example of foreign policy “success” … so even if it completely lacks substance, both parties will be happy to pretend it is working for a while longer.

Was Uncle Sam really as intense as he seemed about the “reset”? Was its real purpose merely to extract Russia’s cooperation in isolating Iran? What is the balance sheet of the “reset” so far for Russia? With all the happenings of the past fortnight, does the “reset” hold out the prospect of putting the US-Russia relationship on a sure footing, let alone a real partnership? If not, what next?

The track opened by the Prague Treaty in April on armscontrol seems to bemeandering already. Equally, the Iran sanctions routeon which Obama andMedvedev held hands for a determined walk seems to havereached a T-junctionand the two must now part ways, with the US imposingsanctions unilaterally.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s capacity to influence Iran hassharply declined with thedramatic worsening of Russian-Iranian ties. Washingtonmay not even feelinclined to see much utility in the Kremlin’s stance onthe Iran nuclear issueanymore. (Moscow announced on Thursday that the Bushehrnuclear power plant wasnow set to become operational.) In any case, the USmight as well turn toTurkey or Brazil to influence Tehran. Yet, Iran was amajor focus of theUS-Russia “reset”.