Russia and China seem to have the United States -- at least publicly-- flummoxed. In recent days, President Bush has praised China as "a good partner to have at the table with us" regarding North Korean negotiations. This week, he has cited his "good friendship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yesterday, Bush praised Putin for his "helpful role" in diplomacy on the same day it was revealed that the Russian government forced Russian radio stations to stop broadcasting news from Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. And, since 2001, Bush has talked about America's "strategic partnership" with Russia.
It is true that often diplomacy requires a statesman to insincerely publicly express friendship with nations that are well understood not to be friends. Such public diplomatic utterances become of concern only if they betoken an actual assessment of the nations' relationships. In the cases of China and Russia, there is evidence that our government still sees them as partners in a dangerous world.
We all should wish that they were partners -- or could be in the future. I am not in the camp that sees either of those great powers as inevitable enemies. And we should constantly direct our foreign policy toward gaining as amicable relations as possible with each of them (while, of course, being ever vigilant and prepared to deal with their hostility as it may emerge).
But it is becoming increasingly suggestive that currently it would be a miscalculation to premise our actions on the assumption that either Russia or China view themselves as our partners in any meaningful use of that word.
Regarding the North Korean missile controversy, China would appear to be opposing our aims. While China told us before the missile launches that they were pressing North Korea not to launch, North Korea's non-compliance would suggest that China did not really insist. After all, China can turn on and off the energy and food spigot to impoverished North Korea. While one cannot be sure of these things, the better judgment is that China is perfectly happy to have their ward, North Korea, continue to show up American impotence. Each time we make and then withdraw various deadlines, American diplomatic credibility is reduced worldwide. (As we pointed out last week in a Washington Times editorial.)
Whether it pleases China to let this humiliation continue, or whether China finally enforces its mandate on North Korea (perhaps in exchange for an American concession to China on some unrelated economic or foreign policy matter), the conclusion must be accepted that China is not "our good partner to have at the table."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.