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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Less Talk, More Action

Maybe it is the reporting from the Olympic games that is at fault. It seems as if the politicians have taken their cue from the sportsmen, and are trying to triumph at any price, to show that their country is superior.


After the comparatively successful settlement of the Bosnian crisis, these politicians immediately embarked upon a bitter quarrel over who gets the credit for the Serbs' withdrawal of heavy artillery from Sarajevo.


The leaders of Western nations claim that it was the NATO ultimatum that did it, that it was a triumph for the politics of strength.


In their opinion the situation is a strong argument that the alliance can maintain peace and stability on the planet. To reinforce this impression they want to establish peace in all of Bosnia through ultimatums.


Moscow is firmly against this approach. The president's press service condemned in very harsh tones the obvious striving of NATO to keep Russia from participating in the resolution of global problems.


Moscow's argument is that it was Russia's brave step in sending 400 of its young citizens as a guarantee of the weapons' withdrawal that saved Europe from an escalation of the conflict, and NATO from the consequences of its own decisiveness.


In my opinion the Kremlin is closer to the truth. But, honestly, this quarrel among the victors seems to be the height of immorality. After all, the louder the arguments, the more obvious it becomes that the goal of many political leaders had little to do with stopping a bloody war.


The main goal was to become the victor in public opinion in one's own country, and to demonstrate world leadership. And when this leadership was called into question by the actions of another country, then irritation showed through.


The FBI has chosen just this moment to arrest a high-level CIA employee who allegedly worked for the KGB and who had been under suspicion for some time.


Washington's wrath seems a bit forced. After all, judging by reports from America, Moscow's main interest was in CIA activity in Russia. It is a fairly understandable concern, is it not? Maybe the whole matter was raised to give vent to the irritation over Bosnia.


But to start a contest of this type in the ruins of Sarajevo is not only immoral, it is not very wise. The conflict is far from over. The calm that has been established will be temporary if the peace process falters, and if the warring sides, which are still counting on achieving victory on the battlefield, use the cease-fire to amass and regroup their forces.


This is why it is so important not to argue just now about "who has the ball." Russia and the West must not only work out a peace plan, they must present this plan to the warring sides, and begin to exert pressure on them.


In this context Yeltsin's proposal for a meeting of the leaders of the major powers to develop such a plan was more constructive than this manufactured tug of war.


All of this allows us, it seems to me, to look without illusions at the relations between Russia and the West, and at the prospects for their development. The crisis in Bosnia has shown us two things: First, the announcements of cooperative relations between Russia and the West are more an exercise in diplomatic rhetoric than they are an indicator of real international practice.


Second, the crisis showed that without Russia many crisis situations cannot be solved.


Considering these realities, relations between Russia and the West can develop according to either of two scenarios. One of these is the way in which the Sarajevo crisis was dealt with.


The West made its decision, ignoring Moscow's position. And Russia then, as a result of a complicated diplomatic game that it was forced to conduct in isolation, was able to restore its prestige and become the deciding factor in resolving the conflict.


As a result the West had to seek some joint solutions. This is what Vitaly Churkin was doing in Bonn, with his colleagues representing the European Union, the United States and Canada.


Such a manner of resolving conflicts has problems from the very beginning, although it appears to be very effective and dramatic from the outside.


But world politics is not a hockey championship. A loss here entails more than the jeers of disappointed fans -- it leads to new bloodshed.


There is another road, much less geared to spectators. It is the road of prolonged negotiations with Russia's participation, so that the decisions adopted are really joint ones.


This is not just because Russia is a great power, and has experience in regulating conflicts. It is also because it is Moscow that can best conduct negotiations with those who are condemned to isolation. These include the Serbs, and Pyongyang, and Havana. The world must see that just pressure and just ultimatums make these powers dangerous and unpredictable.


Yes, Russia today is a difficult partner. It is periodically subject to a "great-power inferiority complex," and the internal political situation can have the most unexpected influence on foreign policy.


But Russia cannot do without its Western partners, and the West cannot do without Russia. It is time to learn to cooperate. Without illusions, and without unnecessary conflicts.





Alexander Golz is a political observer for Krasnaya Zvezda. He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.