Speaking of Vladimir Putin Hillary says “hard men represent hard choices” and goes on to provide her analysis of him and how who he is informs his particular choices. She says he views geopolitics as a zero-sum game where if someone is winning someone else has to be losing.
Her recommended strategy for managing a relationship with the Russians: work with them on specific issues; rally other nations to work with us against negative behavior as needed.
She betrays a clear preference for the vision Yeltsin had for Russia and mentions this moment when he turned back the forces of an old soviet-era coup.
We know Yeltsin kept a photo of her in his office. There was mutual admiration, clearly. For the heck of it I also share these. They always make me smile.
We will never see anything like that from Putin.
Calling Russia the fourth most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist, she refers to this meeting with civil leaders where she spoke of press freedom and human rights.
October 14, 2009 by still4hill
She also gave this daring radio interview on this trip and spoke of human rights.
October 15, 2009 by still4hill
It was during the 2008 primaries here in the U.S. that term limits forced Putin to relinquish the presidency to Dmitri Medvedev whom Hillary found surprisingly conciliatory.
The approach, therefore, that was THE reset, was three-pronged:
- cooperation on aligned interests,
- firmness where interests diverged,
- engagement with the people.
She attributes the use of the term reset to Joe Biden who used it first. As she looks back at her first official meeting with Lavrov, we get a glimpse of the value she places on the use of humor in diplomacy. Even funnier, in the book she relates how Philippe Reines tried to get the button back to correct the label, prevailed upon the Russian ambassador to Switzerland who said he would have to ask the minister, and Philippe said that his minister was going to send him to Siberia if he didn’t get it back. Hillary said she was tempted.
March 7, 2009 by still4hill
The next month the two new presidents would meet. It was a watershed moment – a very productive meeting. Medvedev acknowledged that the U.S. was probably right about Iran nuclear intentions and the two decided that it was time to revisit the nuclear treaty our two countries share. START had expired, and nothing had been done to revise and renew it. Hillary and Sergei Lavrov were about to be assigned what might have been their most important mission: a New START. They, and their respective squadrons, would prove to be a close and impressive team.
A year later, she and Secretary Gates introduced the New START Treaty.
March 27, 2010 by still4hill
The presidential signing took place in Prague in April 2010.
Immediately afterwards Hillary went on the offensive to get the treaty ratified. In the book, Hillary manages to reduce the battle for ratification to about a page. In real life, it took a year for the teams to hammer out the treaty (not bad considering the massive assignment) and then it took all of this to get it ratified.
Her allies on The Hill were Vice President Joe Biden, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Richard Lugar. Her companion in the trenches was Robert Gates.
April 9, 2010 by still4hill
April 9, 2010 by still4hill
Yes, it was and is that McConnell Center (a very smart move). She also published an international op-ed.
April 9, 2010 by still4hill
May 18, 2010 by still4hill
June 17, 2010 by still4hill
July 14, 2010 by still4hill
August 11, 2010 by still4hill
Always keep smiling, even when the struggle is hard!
September 16, 2010 by still4hill
When possible, wear pink. It weakens resistance.
November 3, 2010 by still4hill
But, as Hillary remarks, after the 2010 mid-term elections it appeared that ratification was going to be a tough battle. Many Tea Party candidates had been elected to Congress and some seats had been lost in the Senate. There was pressure from the far right that threatened to get in the way.
This is just me, not Hillary, but her analysis of Putin and what drives him could also apply to some Tea Party folks who believe in a zero-sum game and think our glory days lie in a past century. One way Putin is more advanced than they is that he is less insular. He intends to organize with his Pacific neighbors.
I do not believe New START would have been on the agenda, however, if he and not Medvedev were president.
November 17, 2010 by still4hill
November 18, 2010 by still4hill
Finally, right before Christmas, as if a gift, ratification! It was a present – from Hillary and Sergei Lavrov to the world. Thank you both and your industrious teams!
December 22, 2010 by still4hill
December 22, 2010 by still4hill
The instruments of ratification were exchanged in February 2011. Hillary was so happy that they finally had gotten this done that she remarked that she was having trouble signing her own name – a problem we have not seen on the book promotion trail.
February 5, 2011 by still4hill
If anyone tries to tell you she accomplished nothing or that the reset did not work, show them this page. She worked very hard to get this treaty and to get it ratified. We are lucky. This protects us all.
But as 2011 began with this extraordinary bi-national victory, the tone shifted with the year drawing to a close. As Hillary recounts, Russian parliamentary elections in December were marred by fraud reports, and Putin announced his intention to run for the presidency again.
Hillary expressed concern about these reports, and when folks in Russia hit the streets to demonstrate their disapproval, Putin blamed her for the unrest.
At this OSCE conference Hillary quotes herself.
December 6, 2011 by still4hill
The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And that means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.
Although she argued to Putin that it was unlikely that people woke up and went into the streets because they thought she wanted them to, she does not completely reject the idea that she might have inspired some courage to protest.
As Putin retrieved the presidency and rejected an invitation to the G-8 at Camp David, she warned President Obama that Putin’s “regional integration” was code for rebuilding the empire of the past.
The reset, she tells us was what you think it was. It delivered or disappointed according to your expectations. A Rorschach test of sorts. It was meant, she states, as a recognition, not as a reward.
To illustrate the complexities of the reset she provides the example of supply routes to Afghanistan. As we saw in the Pakistan chapter, one of these was over land. But we also leased former Soviet air bases in both Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan for air transport.
Given the world-view Hillary assigns to Putin, it is not hard to see why he might perceive our presence on former Soviet military bases as a threat. That, indeed, is what he warned the Kyrgys and Uzbeks of – a permanent U.S. presence on these bases (that we were leasing).
A long, but necessary land route for supplies crosses Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan by rail. The complex came to be known as the Northern Distribution Network and was crucial to the Afghanistan surge. Medvedev signed off on our use of Russian rails for this purpose in 2009 (for a price). The movement of lethal cargo across former Soviet land provided an opportunity for Russia to exert some muscle.
When Hillary visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan in 2010, she was asked where they stood in the reset.
QUESTION: Where does Kyrgyzstan come in in your reset with Russia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Russia and the United States, we think, have to work hard to overcome a legacy of mistrust, and try to chart a new course. So when the Obama Administration came in, President Obama and I said we’re going to try to reset relations with Russia. That doesn’t mean we will always agree, because we will not. But it does mean, where we can agree, we should. And we should try to make the world safer and more secure, fewer conflicts, fewer problems.
… But what’s important for us, for the United States, is that Kyrgyzstan be left alone to make its own decisions about what is best for Kyrgyzstan, and that no country interfere with or undermine the legitimate aspirations of the people of Kyrgyzstan to have a democracy that will fulfill the aspirations of you, and no one else. That is our hope.
QUESTION: And is there any rivalry going on between Russia and the U.S., I mean, in the region, particularly in Kyrgyzstan?
SECRETARY CLINTON:… I think it’s important for you to have relations with many, but not be dependent on any. Try to balance off all the different relations you have, and get the best help you can from other countries that wish to participate with you.
The entire transcript is here.
December 2, 2010 by still4hill
Strategy to counter Putin’s neo-colonial agenda included helping Europe, eastern Europe in particular, secure alternative sources of fuel and energy and reduce dependence on Gazprom since Russia could shut down those supply lines at will.
With Cathy Ashton she initiated the U.S. – E.U. Energy Council. Although, as she says, these efforts did not make headlines here at home, they forced Gazprom to compete and influenced Ukraine’s desire for closer ties to Europe (and freedom from Gazprom) which, in turn, relaxed Putin’s grip on the former Soviet state and emboldened Ukrainians to stand firm in their intent to join with Europe.
November 19, 2010 by still4hill
As she brings this Russian chapter to a close she shares some personal insights and moments with Putin, including the invitation for Bill Clinton to tag polar bears with him.
Another involves her attendance at APEC in Vladivostok in September 2012.
September 8, 2012 by still4hill
She mentions that President Obama could not attend because of his campaign schedule here at home. Both Putin and Lavrov resented 1) that President Obama was not there and 2) remarks she had made about Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Assad and therefore resisted a meeting with her. Protocol dictated that the former APEC host (U.S.) be seated beside the current host at the ceremonial dinner. As the president’s representative, the U.S. CEO was Hillary and she was seated beside Putin at the dinner. Not only did they socialize and talk issues and strategy, but Putin shared a story about his parents that no one had ever heard.
She does not mention, so I shall, that at this APEC Summit she signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Antarctic and a Joint Statement on Strengthening U.S.-Russian Inter-Regional Cooperation with Sergei Lavrov. So the reset continued to succeed.
September 8, 2012 by still4hill
Prior to leaving the department she sent President Obama an analysis of relations with Putin’s Russia and some recommendations that some thought extreme at the time. More recent events have shown her assessment to be on target.
As was the case with some previous chapters, the final paragraphs seem directed to Putin and the Russian people more than to us. It is excellent advice and they all should attend to it.
She does not mention this, so I shall even though it is off-topic. The APEC summit in Vladivostok came at the end of this trip for which she cut short an already brief vacation.
August 28, 2012 by still4hill
She had been away and working non-stop for eleven days. There are no “weekends” for a traveling secretary of state. It was eleven solid days packed with work. She had been in six countries. She was in Vladivostok through the September 9, flew home and was at the State Department for a 9:15 meeting on September 10.
September 10, 2012 by still4hill
Take note of the date. She came home to more than a dozen embassies and consulates under siege and was at her office late the next evening as tragic events unfolded.
To those who question where she was and what she was doing, I can answer that she was working as she had been for two solid weeks with no break. I would also ask them when the last time was that they worked through two weeks straight for the long hours that she worked without a day off. To imply or assert that Hillary Clinton ever shirked any aspect of her duty as secretary of state, especially with our embassies and consulates in danger, is a reprehensible assault on a dedicated public servant – particularly when the agenda is purely political.
As I said, it is off-topic, parenthetical, and it is just me.