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Max Hastings

Foreign Policy Is a Sordid Business. Sorry.

Open markets mean being open to the world's repressive governments, but China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are pushing the limits.

What’s the joke?

What’s the joke?

Photographer: Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images

Would you sit down to dinner with a mobster? We know Frank Sinatra did, but that was different. Most of us have scruples about mingling with crooks.

Nations are different, however. Our political leaders are obliged to rub shoulders with people who kill people, or at least order them to be killed — think­ of the evidence pointing to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. All nations make daily compromises, devil’s bargains, in the interests of commerce. The global system would lurch to a halt if everybody who buys stuff from a given state, or sells to it, required a certificate of moral probity.