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Posts Tagged ‘John Kerry’

Ariel Cohen Thinks We Can’t Read Russian: Cohen’s Misleading Critique of Obama’s “Reset” of U.S.-Russian Relations

Posted by K.E. White on June 24, 2010

Yes, Ariel Cohen thinks I can’t read Russian.

Actually he’s right. But I can do a quick babblefish translation.

Why is this important? Because translating one of Cohen’s cites reveals his critique to be grossly misleading.

Ariel Cohen, a Heritage Foundation research fellow, launches this clumsy and fatally exaggerated data-dump on Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obama’s “reset” strategy towards Russia.

But his most explosive charge against the “reset” seems built on little more than exaggeration. In return for sanctions on Iran and a new START treaty, Cohen suggests that Obama has given Russia a free hand in “the post-Soviet ‘near abroad’”citing to a Russian publication. Now that vague term triggers images of a new Cold War divide in Europe.

Unfortunately, the cited article states nothing close to Cohen’s implication. In fact, the article, written by a Russian researcher, actually extols America recognizing recent Ukrainian elections that brought a pro-Russian government to power.

That’s a far cry from giving Russia a free hand to the post-Soviet near abroad.

And that doesn’t even get to the article’s most egregious omission: Cohen criticizes a lot, but fails to offer any alternative.

Sloppy research and data-dumping shouldn’t be permitted by any think-tank, whether it’s a blog-post or article.

Here’s a recapitulation of Cohen’s exhaustive list of U.S. “concessions” to Russia:

1. “limiting the U.S. ballistic missile defense”

2. Recognizing “Russia’s exclusive zone of interests” in the “post-Soviet near abroad” (Again, this actually means recognizing Russia’s increased influence in the Ukraine, not a free-hand in Eastern Europe)

3. “new security architecture in Europe”

4. 123 civilian nuclear reactor agreement — $10-15 billion in new nuclear fuel reprocessing business

5. Support for Russia’s entry into the WTO

6. Secret deal to limit U.S. ballistic missile defense (how does one argue against the charge of a secret deal?)

7. Russia has allowed more U.S. and NATO traffic of Russian territory

And in return, according to Cohen, America has received remarkably little:

1. Russia still supporting Venezuela and Syria

2. Weak sanctions against Iran “In short, Russia will be milking the rest for all its worth.”

3. A new START treaty with one-sides terms in two significant ways: first, the U.S has to eliminate 80 warheads more than Russia; second, the United States must eliminate 150 delivery platforms, while Russia can add over 100.  (A somewhat biased view of the agreement)

I have two questions for Cohen. First, what concessions would he take back? Second, what pressure should America apply to Russia?

Cohen’s article acts as a rejoinder to Sen. John Kerry’s defense of Obamaland’s foreign policy towards Russia. In his Politico op-ed, Kerry endorses the “reset” of U.S.-Russian relations: heralding the new START treaty, and Russia’s support of new Security Council sanctions against Iran, decision to not sell Iran anti-aircraft missiles and open airspace to US and NATO flights to Afghanistan.

Ariel Cohen serves as Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at the Katherine and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Owen Graham, Research Assistant to the Davis Center, contributed to the blog-post.

Posted in Diplomacy, Russia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Election NIght Pakistan: Sweeping But Not Complete Opposition Victory

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

While the PML-N and PPP have had a huge night, it appears initial forecasts of a two-thirds majority (which would allow presidential impeachment or Constitutional restoration) may need to be corrected. 

Whether owing to vote-rigging or not, the failure to seal a 2/3s majority may be why President Musharraf feels comfortable calling this “mother of elections” the “voice of the nation.”

It also appears that the PML-N had more success than expected. 

From The Dawn:

But while the partial results had already started trickling in, the president, while appearing briefly on the state-run Pakistan Television, called the vote “the voice of the nation” and said whoever won in what he called the “mother of elections” must be accepted. “We must accept the result gracefully.”

While the PPP was likely to win most of the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats in its main power base of Sindh province, besides sharing the spoils in the other three provinces of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan, the PML-N looked doing unexpectedly well in Punjab, even giving some shocks to a friendly PPP.

While top PPP leaders remained comparatively inactive during a 40-day mourning for Ms Bhutto and did not campaign much even afterwards, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif created his own wave in his home province of Punjab and Hazara region of the NWFP with his hard line against President Musharraf and for the restoration of about 60 superior court judges who were sacked under the extra-constitutional emergency the president had declared on Nov 3 in his now given up capacity as army chief.

Both the PPP and PML-N have vowed to cooperate in the formation of the future government — and possibly have a government of national consensus — if they together win a majority. A two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament would enable them to impeach the president and to deprive the presidency of its powers to sack a prime minister and dissolve the parliament by restoring the Constitution to its pre-Oct 12, 1999 position when General Musharraf suspended it while capturing power by toppling the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and then amending it by decree.

But that does not seem to be an immediate possibility while a PML-led coalition has a majority in the 100-seat Senate and it is not yet certain if all the opposition parties together will have a two-thirds majority in the 342-seat National Assembly.

The coming days guarantee high-stakes discussions between the PPP and PML-N. How these will pan out, and where Musharraf will end up seems an open question.

But one thing seems clear: While low turnout and violence did mar the elections, the day was a success—a considerable feat in light of Benazir Bhutto’s recent assassination.

And if you didn’t know, Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Kerry (D-MA) were in Pakistan for the historic day.

Posted in election, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »