by the complexities of international relations? Anxious to shine
over the dinner party by demonstrating an easy grasp of the relations
between Russia, the European Union, and the U.S.? Nothing simpler.
Think of them as a soap opera in which bisexual Natasha wants to
break up Sam and Marianne but is unsure which of them to
pursue if she succeeds. Natasha had long intended to attach herself
to the Eurotrash babe, Marianne. Their relationship would be a lesbian
one, of course, since both of them have feminine nurturing views
that favor interventionist government and the welfare state. But
lately Natasha has begun to suspect that Marianne could never give
her the protection she needs in a dangerous neighborhood inhabited
by Triad gangs and colorful ethnic thugs.
would be the perfect protector, having just scored a knockout victory
over a local bully (who, as mother always said, turned out to be
a coward after all.) But Sam's trouble is that he is slightly drunk
on victory, is inclined to think he doesn't need the love and support
of anyone else, and refuses to make those little gestures (holding
off from missile defense, shelling out money uncomplainingly) that
win a maiden's heart.
What's a girl
Mr. Putin seems to have decided on Natasha's behalf to attach himself
to Sam despite the latter's current brashness. He plainly calculates,
however, that he can always change his mind if the situation changes
if, that is, Marianne shows any sign of going down to the
gym, losing some of that surplus weight, putting on a few attractive
muscles around the upper arms, and of course breaking up with Sam.
For her part,
Marianne is perpetually flirtatious, ogling Natasha outrageously
and hinting that Sam doesn't really understand either of them. At
the same time Marianne tells Sam she wants her independence and
even makes flighty little gestures in that direction, joining the
other girls in Neighborhood Watch. But she refuses to do anything
realistic to keep the muggers at bay, such as buying bullets for
her new handbag handgun and whenever she hears mysterious
sounds in the night (or sees a spider in the bath), she telephones
for Sam to come round.
Sam is tempted
to wash his hands of both them and send off for one of those mail-order
Asian brides. And we can all understand how he feels. Nonetheless,
the long-term interest of the U.S. is in consolidating an Atlantic
relationship in which America remains the dominant power in a united
West. That means putting up with a great deal of Euro-grumbling.
But the prize is a historically great one. For if Western unity
is maintained, the sheer force of political gravity will eventually
pull Russia into joining NATO and other Atlantic institutions. Our
old adversaries would then become part of a U.S.-led Western coalition
that could more or less permanently exercise the main influence
in world politics and international institutions.
be a highly desirable outcome because Western influence would generally
be exercised in favor of democracy, freedom, human rights, and economic
policies that promote prosperity. But it cannot be achieved overnight.
cannot happen until Russia unmistakably establishes its democratic
and free-market credentials as all other candidates for NATO membership
have done. Here Mr. Putin's recent curbing of press freedom shows
that Russia still has a long way to go. Additionally, unlike other
candidates for NATO membership, Russia must meet another exacting
test: It must show it has abandoned any neo-imperialist nostalgia
for its rule over "near-neighborhood" countries.
once have been either miracles or fantasies. They can be reality
in the next few decades, however, if the West remains united and
determined and if Western leaders such as Bush and Blair
hold the Russians to high standards on such matters as democratization
and the rule of law. And the war on terrorism has been a catalyst
accelerating the speed with which Russia might be acceptable in
the West and, in particular, to its former European satellites now
The only real
obstacle to this highly desirable future is the possibility that
the European Union will develop into a rival superpower with an
independent military capability and a common foreign policy. If
that were to happen, it would gradually but inevitably divide the
West and restrict the ability of transatlantic allies such as Britain
and Poland to support U.S. policy against a narrowly European consensus.
That in turn
would reduce the force of gravity drawing Russia into the Western
orbit and thus into adopting the constitutional liberal institutions
of freedom and democracy. Worse, it would even encourage Russia
to ally itself with this new "Europe" in order to contest
the "hegemony" of the U.S. Natasha would seek to seduce
Marianne into setting up a joint ménage in their "Common
European Home" leaving Sam out in the cold.
No doubt that
would not pose any immediate threat to American security. But it
would point to an unstable future of competing regional power "blocs"
in which the U.S. would be harried and obstructed by nations that
now generally join their interests with ours to promote a safer
and more prosperous world. The world would become a more dangerous
place for no better reason than that some European politicians
want to establish a militarily needless and pointless Euro-force
as the symbol of some hypothetical future European nation. It is
far more irresponsibly "unilateralist" than anything done
by the Bush administration.
As the World Turns the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warning for