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From: "Peter Lavelle"
Subject: Untimely Thoughts
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001

Peter Lavelle: Untimely Thoughts - Quiet Flows the Don (re the Evans trade visit)

Most of us would agree the events of September 11 changed the world to one degree or another. Since that day there has been a great deal of excitement about the new US-Russia relationship, on the back of Putin's now historic telephone call after the collapse of the World Trade Center. In the mainstream media Russia has made a come back. Putin's Russia is a "friend", a forgiven past adversary. According to Bush and Putin, the Cold War is finally over and a new relationship is in the making. Don Evans' trade visit somehow is seen as a meaningful step forward in that relationship. The symbolism is there - this is his first foreign trade mission as Secretary of Commerce. America is opening its arms to Russia, and Russia is embracing the new friend in return. This all sounds like a not so sophisticated poster from the Soviet past. "Through international friendship the harvest will be reaped beyond the plan!" Well, something like that. Don Evans and his assemblage of American execs were slated to visit Russia before the tragedy. During his brief trip to Moscow in July, he spoke of enhancing American business relations with Russian businesses, always avoiding direct engagement of the Russian government - though never directly criticizing Putin's government. Meeting Evans speaks volumes of what kind of man he is and what kind of relationship the US hopes to ultimately develop with Russia. He is very focused and hard-nosed, while at the same time charming, disarming and very personable. His manner is more like a diplomat than that of a businessman. There has been a lot of talk of the "new relationship" since "911". Something may actually come it in the end. Though helping one another out of mutual interest during a specific time frame is not necessarily the makings of a long lasting alliance. Evans came here this time around with the same agenda the Bush determined earlier this year. Circumstances have changed, as the media makes us acutely aware. But Don came here with his like-minded friends in much the same way they intended prior to the advent of the "new war". His quiet Texan manner and acute sense of good and profitable business for America was not lost in emotion of the moment. Many US investors still have concerns about the rule of law in Russia, its banking structure and accountancy standards. Calvin Coolidge said once "the business of America is business". Evans and is his missionaries most certainly could not disagree. A "special relationship" does not automatically mean entrepreneurial kindness.

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