The ‘Do What We Say’ Foreign Policy?
Radio Free Europe has an interview with Randy Scheunemann, who is one of the McCain campaign advisers on our policy towards Russia, especially with regards to Georgia. One part of the interview that seems problematic to me, as well as others, is this bit about potential negotiating of issues with Russia:
RFE/RL: In situations like this one, many analysts start talking about possible trade-offs between the superpowers. In this particular case, there was a lot of talk about allowing the United States to develop its antimissile defense system in Central Europe in exchange for giving up the idea of supporting the NATO aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine. How would you comment on that?
Scheunemann: Well, I think first of all the administration has said very clearly and publicly that there will be no trade-offs. Trade-offs like that are kind of a relic of a bygone era of power politics. Second, it’s not a question really of Russia “allowing” missile defense. The question of missile defense is between three sovereign governments — the United States, Poland, and the Czech Republic. And they are able and must be able to make their own sovereign decisions.
I don’t think there’s any dispute that the issue of missile defense is ultimately a question for the nations involved. That said, the idea that Schunemann is articulating here, that there “will be no trade-offs” is extremely troubling. At first glance, I simply thought he meant no trade-offs on these issues. But the phrase “Trade-offs like that are kind of a relic of a bygone era of power politics” seems to imply that Scheunemann does not believe that the United States should concede anything in trying to negotiate a dispute with another nation. Clearly that’s not a workable notion, and if a country actually tried to articulate and implement it, I don’t think the end results would be that good.
Given that Scheunemann has the ear of the Republican nominee for president, I certainly hope that I’m reading too much into that statement. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure that John McCain has the good sense to ignore that advice anyway. That kind of rhetoric just can’t be treated seriously. We’re not the rulers of the world, and if we want something from other countries, we should be negotiating for that something with a willingness to make concessions, not a simplistic “do what we want. No, we’re not going to give you anything for it.”