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By Dick Morris


April 25, 2003
Friday - 1:00 pm


Moscow, April 18... A week in the Russian capital meeting with the staff of former President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian experts on America makes clear how far President Vladimir Putin has strayed from Moscow's real interests in his misguided policy on Iraq.

In Moscow for the Russian language publication of my book The New Prince, I gave a lengthy interview to Izvestya, the leading Russian daily newspaper, which they ran on page one. I used the opportunity to underscore the error the Russian president had made in siding with the likes of France and Germany rather than deepening and broadening the budding relations between Putin and Bush.

With the end of the economic determinism of foreign policy under President Clinton and the return to the more traditional military and diplomatic motivations for our international relations brought on by the war on terror, Russia has a new role to play. But Putin doesn't get it.

A minor economic power, Yeltsin's and Putin's Russia had to sit on the sidelines as Japan and the European Union took center stage alongside the United States in a new world order founded on neo-liberal economic and trade policies. But now that global economic trade and shared free markets have been increasingly achieved and the threats of terrorism have taken their place as our key concerns, Russia need no longer wait in the wings.

With its huge land mass, borders with many trouble spots, its traditional relations with problem states like Iran, North Korea, and Syria, its role in the arms trade, and its remaining military and intelligence powers, Moscow has a future which dwarfs that of either France or Germany. Indeed, in the ruins of the United Nations, one can easily see a return to the Big Three of World War II vintage where the roles of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill are played by their more prosaic successors: Bush, Putin, and Blair.

It is no longer time for Russia to play for small stakes by co-operating with France in the hopes that some oil contracts will fall from the table. Instead, Putin should seize the opportunity to reassert a role for Russia by taking his seat at a more important table - not the round one of the Security Council where irrelevant nations like France, Germany, Angola, and Chile presume to dictate world affairs, but a triangular table where the Big Three lead the world.

Nor should Putin be overly concerned about opposition by the Russian people to co-operation with the United States in the war on terror. If Russia can re-emerge on the global stage as a major power, rather than a supplicant seeking aid or a scavenger looking for contracts, the Russian people will be thrilled and will reward Putin with even higher ratings than the 60% of which he now boasts.

Unfortunately, Putin doesn't seem to realize that the world has changed and that the Russian policy of looking to the United Nations and relying on its Security Council seat as its base of power in a world dominated by the big economies undervalues the potential of Russian power. President George W. Bush likely would and certainly should welcome Putin into the Big Three as an ally and partner in the eradication of global terrorism, a goal as important to Russia with its Muslim neighbors as it is the U.S. and the U.K..

Compare the power of Blair and Putin. The British leader, who accepted a seat at the Big Three table, has enormous influence over U.S. policy. Bush would have gone to war a year ago but for Blair's insistence on pursuing U.N. approval. Both because of his nation's contribution and his personal persuasiveness as he sits at Bush's side, Tony Blair is a power on the world stage.

By contrast, Vladimir Putin can get invited only to the losers club with France, Germany, and Kofi Annan. There they can raise alternate toasts of Vodka, wine, and beer to their lost days of world power.

Its time for Putin to realize that he can get back in the game and give Bush a call. Anyway, that's what I said in Izvestya. I hope Vladimir is a subscriber!


Dick Morris has become a familiar figure as a commentator for the Fox News Channel. He writes weekly columns for the New York Post, The Hill Magazine in Washington D.C. and The National Post in Canada.

Copyright 2003 Dick Morris, Distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. to subscribers.


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