One can hear the disbelief in capitals from Washington to London to Berlin to Ankara and beyond. How can Vladimir Putin, with a sinking economy and a second-rate military, continually dictate the course of geopolitical events? Whether it’s in Ukraine or Syria, the Russian president seems always to have the upper hand.
Sometimes the reaction is derision: This is a sign of weakness. Or smugness: He will regret the decision to intervene. Russia cannot possibly succeed. Or alarm: This will make an already bad situation worse. And, finally, resignation: Perhaps the Russians can be brought along to help stabilize the situation, and we could use help fighting the Islamic State.… Seguir leyendo »
“Meet Viktor Yanukovych, who is running for the presidency of Ukraine.” Vladimir Putin and I were standing in his office at the presidential dacha in late 2004 when Yanukovych suddenly appeared from a back room. Putin wanted me to get the point. He’s my man, Ukraine is ours — and don’t forget it.
The “Ukrainian problem” has been brewing for some time between the West and Russia. Since Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, the United States and Europe have tried to convince Russia that the vast territory should not be a pawn in a great-power conflict but rather an independent nation that could chart its own course.… Seguir leyendo »
The civil war in Syria may well be the last act in the story of the disintegration of the Middle East as we know it. The opportunity to hold the region together and to rebuild it on a firmer foundation of tolerance, freedom and, eventually, democratic stability is slipping from our grasp.
Egypt and Iran have long, continuous histories and strong national identities. Turkey does as well, except for the matter of the Kurds, who are still largely unassimilated, mistrusted by Ankara and tempted by the hope of independent nationhood.
Every other important state is a modern construct, created by the British and the French, who drew borders like lines on the back of an envelope, often without regard for ethnic and sectarian differences.… Seguir leyendo »
As I watched Hosni Mubarak address the Egyptian people last week, I thought to myself, "It didn't have to be this way."
In June 2005, as secretary of state, I arrived at the American University in Cairo to deliver a speech at a time of growing momentum for democratic change in the region. Following in the vein of President George W. Bush's second inaugural address, I said that the United States would stand with people who seek freedom. This was an admission that the United States had, in the Middle East more than any other region, sought stability at the expense of democracy, and had achieved neither.… Seguir leyendo »
Durante gran parte del mes pasado, la atención mundial ha estado centrada en Rusia. Hemos aceptado el reto urgente de apoyar a Georgia tras el ataque ruso, un reto que, por el momento, estamos cumpliendo con éxito. La principal pregunta que surge, y que abordé extensamente en un discurso el pasado jueves, es la siguiente: ¿qué implican los acontecimientos del mes pasado para la relación de Rusia con el mundo y, en particular, con Estados Unidos y Europa?
Las circunstancias que rodearon el conflicto del mes pasado son bien conocidas. Ambas partes cometieron errores, pero la respuesta de los líderes rusos -invadir un Estado soberano a través de una frontera reconocida internacionalmente y tratar después de desmembrarlo reconociendo Abjasia y Osetia del Sur- fue desproporcionada.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past year, we have seen that Iraqis are committed to affirming their own sovereignty. The Iraqi army and police are taking the lead in providing security over much of the country. Iraq is building relationships with other nations in the Middle East. The Iraqi people want to meet their own needs and control their own destiny. And they desire a more normal relationship with the United States.
Our troops and diplomats have made untold sacrifices to help put Iraq on the path to self-sufficiency. A crucial phase in this process will unfold in the coming months, when our ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, begins negotiating a basic framework for normalized relations with the Iraqi government -- to include what is known as a "status of forces" agreement.… Seguir leyendo »
It is unusual in Washington when an idea is overwhelmingly supported by the president, a bipartisan majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department, and both the civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon. But that is the case with the proposed Civilian Reserve Corps, a volunteer cadre of civilian experts who can work with our military to perform the urgent jobs of post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.
Creating such an institution is essential for our national security, and the Senate should authorize the creation of the corps. Over the past decade and a half, the United States has learned that some of the greatest threats to our national security emerge not only from the armies and arsenals of hostile nations but also from the brittle institutions and failing economies of weak and poorly governed states.… Seguir leyendo »