Friday, March 6, 2009

Washington foreign policy shift

RCW posted an excellent stratfor analysis of the Obama administration's foreign policy shifts, with regards to Iran and Russia.

Read the whole thing. Here are some highlights:

  • Clinton announced that the US would like to invite Iran to a March 31 conference on Afghanistan. This is a clear break from past Bush admin policy.
  • Washington voted to restore NATO ties to Russia.
  • Washington told Georgia it "needs some space" in its relationship. Georgia membership into NATO is highly unlikely, now.

Regarding that last point, quoting:

By disappointing the Georgians at this summit, the United States just moved the line of Russian influence in the former Soviet periphery several hundred miles to the west. The United States essentially told a recently war-ravaged country on the border of Russia — whose only real protection derives from its alliance with Washington — that the need for the United States to work out a deal with Russians is a bigger priority right now than providing for Georgia’s security. That message is likely to be met with horror throughout much of central and eastern Europe and with delight in Moscow.

That said, the diplomatic stage is still being set, and there is much more to be worked out in the United States’ distrust-filled relationships with both Tehran and Moscow. We will be watching for Russia’s reaction to the U.S. gestures on Friday, when Clinton meets with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and for the level of actual progress in negotiations in the month before Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev meet.

Regardless, Thursday’s events provided very clear indicators that Washington has — for the time being — chosen a new foreign policy path that will win some and lose some. Now is the prime moment for the major global powers to reposition themselves.

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