Don't Boot the Russkies

Behold, I am in complete agreement with Madeline Albright and Bill Perry:

We cannot expect help from a government we are attempting to blackball, nor would it be in our interest to push Russia further in the direction of an alliance of autocracies with such countries as China and Iran.

This is the kernel of the Clintonians’ brief against McCain’s Boot-the-Russkies-from-the-G8 plan, and it is the decisive argument. Our inappropriate and ill-fitting task of upholding, virtually alone, the West’s moral, economic, and political interests all around the world will go from moderately difficult to totally impossible with Russia as our enemy.

Only after many years, with an amount of work few want to take on, will Russian interests actually grow closer to ours on things like NATO and the missile shield. But as it stands, we need Russia. The West always has needed a Russia with one and a half feet in the West. Even when the West ruled most of the world, attending to an assertively anti-Western Russia was a full-time job with no guarantees. In the world of today, where former backwaters of power (Africa, China, the Middle East) have become fundamental problem areas for the West, pulling Russia off the bench and promoting it to the top of the crisis and antagonism list is literally about the stupidest idea I can conceive of when it comes to foreign policy.

Notice that this is true whatever you think about Iraq, Iran, or terrorism. Or global warming. Or rising food costs. All it requires of us is a stronger stomach when it comes to the ‘suffering’ of the Russian people. Emotional weakness on the suffering of strangers, here as elsewhere, has the great potential to do us more harm than good. Not a very happy lesson, but an important one.