Secretary of State Rice is in Tblisi finalizing a French-brokered ceasefire agreement that lays the groundwork for legitimizing the Russian annexation of Georgia’s two breakaway territories. She insists that Georgia’s interests and territorial integrity are being upheld, but the agreement not only permits invading Russian forces to remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it further permits them to conduct protective operations outside South Ossetia. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Gates tells the Washington Post that, as late as last week, “he was in direct contact with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who assured him that Russia had no intention of sending its troops south into Georgia.”
Gates acknowledges that the fundamentals of our relationship with Russia must be reexamined in light of what has occurred in the last two weeks. That is the subject of my article this morning, which argues it has been extreme folly to regard the Russians as “strategic partners” as President Bush most recently did in April, in a joint announcement with Putin, and in May when he submitted the U.S.-Russia Civil-Nuclear Agreement to Congress.
In addition to the measures that have been announced over the last couple of days — our military’s humanitarian mission to Georgia, a missile-defense agreement with Poland, etc. — the administration should immediately withdraw its submission of the nuclear cooperation pact and make clear that a mafia family dressed up as a regime cannot be a strategic partner of the United States. We must also acknowledge that what passes for our Iran policy — which depends critically on the fantasy that Russia is a cooperative friend rather than a sneaky, proliferating enemy – is a failure and must be rethought.