Monday, September 29, 2008

So Much For Trade Delegations With Russia

Palin’s alleged “Russian experience” is turning out to be even thinner than watching Putin’s plane fly overhead.

Although she told ABC’s Charlie Gibson that there are "trade missions back and forth,” a look through the governor’s website finds very little evidence of any such missions. And Palin herself put the kabosh on what opportunities did exist for Alaska-Russia relations by slashing the budget of the Northern Forum.

Reader g in comments directed me to this story:
Opportunities abound for Alaska governors to engage in Russian diplomacy, with the state host to several organizations focusing on Arctic issues. Anchorage is the seat of the Northern Forum, an 18-year-old organization that represents the leaders of regional governments in Russia, as well as Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea.

Yet under Palin, the state government — without consultation — reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group's executive director. That forced the forum's Anchorage office to go without pay for two months.

Palin — unlike the previous administrations of Gov. Frank Murkowski and Gov. Tony Knowles — also stopped sending representatives to Northern Forum's annual meetings, including one last year for regional governors held in the heart of Russia's oil territory.

"It was an opportunity for the Alaska governor to take a delegation of business leaders to the largest oil-producing region in Russia, and she would have been shaking hands with major leaders in Russia," Wohl said.

Odd that the person John McCain called the country's best energy expert didn't feel the need to go to a meeting like this.

I guess she had other priorities.