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You Can't Have It All

One United Nations diplomat joked on Saturday that “if someone went to the Russians and said, ‘OK, Kosovo for Iran,’ we’d have a deal.”

That might be hyperbole, but there is a growing feeling among some officials in the Bush administration that perhaps the United States cannot have it all, and may have to choose its priorities, particularly when it comes to Russia. ~Helene Cooper

It’s an encouraging sign that this feeling is growing at least among some officials, but what does it say about this administration that they apparently believed that the U.S. could have it all and didn’t need to prioritize which policies were more important and which were secondary?  This is the crew that thought it could expand NATO twice in five years and recognize Kosovo, all the while berating Russia for its internal political conditions, and then ask the Russians for help with Iran as if nothing had happened. 

There is a basic problem with having all these satellites whose interests we are supposed to protect.  U.S. interests will often require our government to raise the hopes of small nations, only to dash them when our real priorities conflict with lending support to them.  At the same time, to the extent that our government takes these obligations to numerous satellites seriously it requires compromising or limiting our ability to pursue policies in the American interest.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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