Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lavrov to Hillary Clinton's Successor: Make No Assumptions

As you know, "assume" makes an ASS of U and ME.  When Bill Richardson peeled off Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008, he might have assumed that by supporting Obama he would be named Secretary of State.  Many, including yours truly, expect that if  Obama is reelected, John Kerry will succeed Hillary Clinton in the post for which she bested Richardson.   Most reasonable people hope that if Romney is elected he will not name John Bolton to that post.

It is interesting but probably not a coincidence that on the morning when the State Department released the New START stats, we see Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov issuing a warning that the "reset" is not interminable.  Lavrov had a rocky relationship with Condi Rice during the Bush administration, and Hillary Clinton put every personal skill she possesses into healing the resulting abrasions to the bilateral flesh.   If  it began awkwardly, with the mislabeled reset button, it developed into a partnership akin to a political marriage of sorts when their teams hammered out a New START treaty which they signed in April 2010 and the Senate ratified in December of that year - probably Hillary's best possible Christmas present from her former colleagues.

So as the days of her service in this cabinet position wane and the appointment of a successor looms,  the effect of the transition is impossible to ignore, perhaps most suspensefully  for her counterparts the world over.  The Clinton Doctrine of Smart Power has served us, our partners and friends well.  What will the next administration bring to the table?   Sergei Lavrov, if we are to judge from last week's scenes at UNGA , is not the only foreign minister wondering.

Russia warns Obama's 'reset' in relations 'cannot last forever'

Jim Watson / Pool via Reuters, file
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sign a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Antarctica during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept. 8.

By Reuters

MOSCOW - Russia and the United States must do more to strengthen relations because the "reset" in ties cannot continue forever, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview published Wednesday.

President Barack Obama called for the reset in ties before taking office in 2008 but relations have been strained by differences over issues such as missile defense, human rights and the conflict in Syria.

"If we talk about the 'reset,' it is clear that, using computer terminology, it cannot last forever. Otherwise it would not be a 'reset' but a program failure," Lavrov told the Kommersant business daily.

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Here are the New START stats as published by the State Department this morning.

New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
October 3, 2012

(As of September 1, 2012, as drawn from the exchange of data by the Parties)[1]

Category of Data
United States of America
Russian Federation
Deployed ICBMs, Deployed SLBMs, and Deployed Heavy Bombers
Warheads on Deployed ICBMs, on Deployed SLBMs, and Nuclear Warheads Counted for Deployed Heavy Bombers
Deployed and Non-deployed Launchers of ICBMs, Deployed and Non-deployed Launchers of SLBMs, and Deployed and Non-deployed Heavy Bombers

[1] Data in this Fact Sheet comes from the biannual exchange of data required by the Treaty. It contains data declared current as of September 1, 2012. Data will be updated each six month period after entry into force of the Treaty.