The Bush administration should stop pretending Russia is a genuine strategic partner and adopt a new policy of "selective cooperation" and "selective opposition" to the authoritarian government of President Vladimir Putin, a bipartisan task force has concluded.Really? I had already thought that US policy (and US / Russia international relations) was one of "selective cooperation / selective opposition". I certainly don't see across the board cooperation between our two nations.
Further, I think that pressing Russia would be the wrong move at this time. The US simply doesn't have the international political capital to spend - Bush has spent it all (perhaps even squandered it) with Iraq.
I believe Russia has pretty much a free hand at this time in the realm of international politics - simply because Europe and China are hungry for oil and natural gas resources. Mainland Europe won't cross Russia as long as they keep the petrol flowing. China is even more closely tied to Russia. The strongest European allies that the US has now (outside of the UK, Netherlands), are all former CCCP or Warsaw Pact nations.
Further, to the eyes of many in the world - Russia's international politics have seemed more reasonable than the United States of late. Trying to gain cooperation with Hamas (the freely elected representative party of the Palestinian people, mind you) is a less inciteful path than the Bush/Israel stand-off. It will be good to remember this Palestinian democracy lesson, when Iraq votes in a government that the US isn't very fond of ... in the future.
This business with Iran is clearly Russia seeking to sell technology and weapons to a muslim nation in the face of Iraq - but who can blame Russia for playing that card? Iran is perhaps a poor choice of a nation to cooperate with in many ways - but it still a logical choice, from the Russian point of view. Of course, Iran is using Russia to develop nuclear weapons - but Russia is betting that cooperation with Iran will only strengthen the Russian position in international politics.
I personally believe the Bush administration needs to seek greater cooperation with all of our "allies" - where such cooperation can be found. This cooperation isn't going to be easily found with Russia anymore, Putin has decided on his own path, and he is betting the US can't and won't do anything about that.
"Selective opposition" isn't going to improve that - it will only harden Russian policies. The old language of "наш потенциальный враг" is already in play in Russia ... it is a well worn path, after all. There is no point in making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.