Writing in the Globe and Mail on the recent open letter from Havel and co., John O’Sullivan of the conservative Hudson Institute points out that it is pretty hard for the Obama administration to improve relations with Russia without suffering a deterioration of relations with the East:
It is not altogether new for Central and Eastern Europeans to feel they are neglected by the U.S. and Western Europe. What is unprecedented, as John Vinocur pointed out in the International Herald Tribune, is that they should express such feelings so openly, so strongly and so undiplomatically. Their description of current Russian policy – “it uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe” – is harsh. But there is a great deal of evidence to support it.
Which is exactly why the letter poses such a complicated dilemma for Washington. If its analysis is correct, then the U.S. can hardly place much trust in its new “reset” Russian policy. So it can hardly agree wholeheartedly to the letter. Nor can it reject the letter out of hand, because it is signed by America’s most distinguished European supporters.
In related news, today in Georgia VP Joe Biden gave the have-it-both-ways approach his best shot.