Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Memo to Washington: Give Putin the Cameron treatment

Europe didn’t invent gun powder, politics, or political vanity. Yet, it’s obvious that European leaders are crazy about state dinners in the White House.

Furthermore, vanity is one thing Vladimir Putin definitely has in common with his counterparts in Western Europe. It’s also widely agreed that we’d all be safer, and America’s pre-election recovery surer, if the newly elected president of Russia was more oriented toward the West’s interests in his thinking.

Mr. President, let them moralize up in Boston and out in San Francisco about which one of you has the best team of billionaires. It’s time Putin was invited to Washington and treated like a very powerful winner who could make a strategic difference in the world. (There’s not much to say to him about the past that hasn’t been wasted on the Brits or that Putin would be open to reconsider.)

It’s diplomatic to go on about our “essential” relationship with Great Britain when you’re dining with David Cameron. But, don’t let that interfere with your priorities or your appointment schedule.

It’s interesting that Cameron’s government may try to help avoid, temporarily, along with others, a price spike in crude oil prices this summer, one that would harm the US recovery and drive voters crazy.

He’s agreeable, but he is not very influential—either in Europe or globally. Putin is difficult, but he has considerable influence; in the Middle East, on oil supply, as well as on oil prices. The tide of world events, including confidence in representative democracy, will carry on with or without the Rt. Hon. David Cameron. Fair or not, however, Putin’s performance will make a difference globally.

Mr. President, you are making compromises in order to be able to make more compromises for another four years.

After the November election, you hope to talk sense with Mitch McConnell on a whole range of American problems. Let`s practice that kind of problem-solving by working on a few problems in the world with Vladimir Putin.

Neither Putin nor McConnell are going to go away.

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