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The White House is denying a front-page story in the New York Times yesterday claiming that the Bush Administration...

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White House Disputes New York Times Account on Punishing Russia

The White House is denying a front-page story in the New York Times yesterday claiming that the Bush Administration…

The White House is denying a front-page story in the New York Times yesterday (September 9th) claiming that the Bush Administration, "after considerable internal debate, had decided not to take direct punitive action against Russia for its conflict with Georgia."  According to the Times article, co-authored by Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, the Administration has concluded "that it has litle leverage if it acts unilaterally and that it would be better off pressing for a chorus of international criticism to be led by Europe."  

I raised this point at the daily White House press briefing yesterday, pointing out that backing away from earlier threats such as vetoing Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a reveral from some of the original rhetoric that came out of the Administration immediately after the Georgia invasion last month.  What led to this change of position on Russia, I asked Press Secretary Dana Perino.  

"I found that criticism somewhat curious," replied Perino, "because it came on the morning after the President withdrew from the 1-2-3 agreement, which was something that was a bilateral agreement that we had worked out with Russia in April. We did that with regret, but we did it because of Russia’s unacceptable recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent of Georgia. And unfortunately, it’s the Russians actions that led to this and Russia is increasingly finding itself isolated. And we will continue to work with our European partners and our international allies to decide how to move forward in a relationship with Russia."

That was a little vague for me, so I pressed on: "So those reports are exaggerated about blocking Russia from the WTO?" I asked Perino.

"I think everybody is reevaluating how we move forward," the President’s top spokeswoman told me, "but I just find that the criticism that the President of the United States doesn’t want to take any action against Russia curious, given that it came on the very same day that the President withdrew from the 1-2-3 agreement."

Andrei Sitov of TASS later weighed in, citing " the quotes in today’s New York Times from Secretary Gates about calibrated response and all of that — are these reflective of the overall approach, the White House approach?"

Perino replied that "what that article talked about was a mature, responsible, comprehensive review of how we decide to move forward with Russia. We’re obviously extremely disappointed in the Russians. We expect them to live up to their commitments and to remove their forces, and to return to the status quo ante of August 6th."

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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