Thursday, August 02, 2007

Negotiations with Russia, China Most Worthwhile

Written from Klamath, Calif.--

Although Sen. Barack Obama fell into trouble by suggesting negotiations with such thugs as Syria's Bashir Assad and Venezuela's dictator, Hugo Chavez, there are certainly negotiations the U.S. is not adequately pursuing today that could well be advantageous.

I'm thinking particularly of Russia and China. Both countries have had their own troubles with Muslim fundamentalism. In the long run, both could be as threatened by it as much as we are. So there is a potential common interest here, and bringing a coalition of the willing together to confront the fundamentalists almost certainly would desirably include them.

In the present gathering crisis in Pakistan, for example, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, have directly attacked Chinese workers who have often been active in Pakistan development. China has complained about the attacks officially to the regime of Pervez Musharraf, and he has promised to try to counter them. In a bombing near Karachi last week, the Pakistani police and army intervened to protect Chinese workers.

China has cracked down hard against Muslim separatists in Sinkiang in northwestern China.

Russia, too, in the Caucasus mountains of Chechnya and other provinces has had to confront Muslim rebels. Russian leader Vladimir Putin fought a war in Chechnya, which the West showed little sympathy for. But Russia now has prevailed and terrorism in Russia has dropped off.

The Russians thus far have not been very helpful in terms of squelching Iran's nuclear aspirations. In fact, it is Russia who has helped build an Iranian nuclear plant.

But Putin recently suggested to the U.S. that missiles the Bush Administration wants to place in Poland to counter Iranian missiles be placed in Azerbaijan, which is closer to Iran, instead.

It would seem therefore that building on common interests we might get further with negotiations with the Russians and Chinese on Middle Eastern issues than by negotiating with terrorist sympathizers there. Russia is already part of the quartet of powers which has been making suggestions in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Talking with Assad and Mahmound Ahmadinejad is likely to get us nothing. Democrats who wish to advise the Bush Administration might suggest China and Russia instead.

--

I'm staying at the ReQua Inn, a couple of miles off the Redwood Highway, overlooking the Klamath River. Built in 1914, the inn has been owned for the last six years by Barb and Dave Gross. They served eight of the guests dinner last night, and it was delicious. This is yet another place that can be recommended along California's north coast.

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