So nothing dramatic happened in Maine. The two presidents cruised around the coastline and ate lobster.
That was the point.
In recent months, on a variety of issues, from missile defense to Kosovo to Iran to democracy, the United States and the Russian Federation were locking themselves into opposing positions. Increasingly, it appeared that no common ground could be reached between the two sides and that the only possible outcomes were confrontation or for one side to engage in the humiliating ritual of backing down.
So, no compromises were reached. No solutions were found. But what both George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin needed was breathing room.
The theme of the Bush-Putin meeting was: we are still talking. No definitive conclusions have been reached. No options have been ruled out. Dialogue is ongoing. We have disagreements on a number of issues-and some of them are serious-but the relationship is too important to be left to spiral downward on autopilot. . . .