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 »