An editorial in the Washington Post notes that Russia is flouting the Obama administration on human rights (it overlooks the fact that, as we report below, the deal over Iran sanctions is for a watered-down sham no different than several similar pacts reached in the Bush years, and the deal over nukes is equally dishonest, achieving only tiny marginal changes in weapons stockpiles — so the price Obama has paid for this escalation in human rights atrocities is truly appalling).
RUSSIA’S GOVERNMENT has calculated that it needs better relations with the West to attract more foreign investment and modern technology, according to a paper by its foreign ministry that leaked to the press last month. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has recently made conciliatory gestures to Poland, while President Dmitry Medvedev sealed a nuclear arms treaty with President Obama. At the United Nations, Russia has agreed to join Western powers in supporting new sanctions against Iran.
Moscow’s new friendliness, however, hasn’t led to any change in its repressive domestic policies. The foreign ministry paper says Russia needs to show itself as a democracy with a market economy to gain Western favor. But Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev have yet to take steps in that direction. There have been no arrests in the more than a dozen outstanding cases of murdered journalists and human rights advocates; a former KGB operative accused by Scotland Yard of assassinating a dissident in London still sits in the Russian parliament.
Perhaps most significantly, the Russian leadership is allowing the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oil executive who has become the country’s best-known political prisoner, to go forward even though it has become a showcase for the regime’s cynicism, corruption and disregard for the rule of law. Mr. Khodorkovsky, who angered Mr. Putin by funding opposition political parties, was arrested in 2003 and convicted on charges of tax evasion. His Yukos oil company, then Russia’s largest, was broken up and handed over to state-controlled firms. Continue reading
In Putin’s Russia, Citizens most of all Fear the “Police”
Oleg Kozlovsky in Triumfalnaya Ploshchad
Here’s what happened to Oborona opposition faction leader Oleg Kozlovsky last week:
First, he was illegally arrested for doing nothing more than asserting his Constitutional right to peacefully assemble in Triumfalnaya Ploshchad in Moscow.
Then, he was illegally beaten while in police custody as he protested (peacefully) the illegality of his arrest.
Next, he was held illegally for nine hours in police custody (the law allows for only three).
Finally, he was indicted on the signature of a police officer who had nothing whatsoever to do with his arrest and therefore could not have been a party to it, and on a pre-printed form prepared by bureaucrats miles away.
In other words, in the space of just a few hours Oleg had his legal rights trampled upon by the Russian police who are supposed to protect those rights not once, not twice, not three times but four separate times. More than a hundred other activists were treated similarly by the Russian “police” and Oleg saw a reporter get his arm broken by these thugs for trying to cover and report on the their atrocities.
Russia, purveyor to Terror
Russia proudly announced last week that it plans to deliver vast quantities of offensive weapons, including fighter jets and armored attack vehicles, to Syria, as well as defensive systems for nuclear technology it also plans to to hand over the the rogue regime in Damascus.
So Russia is a pipeline to Syria. That crazed dictatorship, of course, is itself a pipeline — to the Hezbollah terrorist organization which is committed to the destruction of one of America’s closest allies, Israel, as well as to the United States itself, no differently than Osama bin Laden. In fact, as Pajamas Media reports, Russia is even manufacturing covert weaponry which appears to have terrorists as its primary market.
We can’t help but wonder: How would Russia react if the United States decided to begin pumping dangerous offensive weapons into a country that was well known to be supplying the same weapons to the terrorist “bandits” of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia? Would Russians be inclined to say “that’s America’s right, it’s none of our concern?” Or would they be outraged and demand that the U.S. cease such actions immediately?
Barack Obama, Traitor
In today’s issue we republish an op-ed piece by David J. Kramer, a former Bush administration State Department official in Eastern Europe. Kramer’s scathing condemnation of Barack Obama’s cowardly betrayal of American allies in the region is required reading for anyone who is concerned about Russian imperialist aggression.
In a second piece, from the Huffington Post of all places, Ken Blackwell documents how, at every geopolitical turn, Obama’s “foreign policy” has been naive, misguided and ended in failure.
In an original column, scholar Ethan Burger points out the folly of allowing Russia to join the WTO without embracing the WTO’s core values, making Russia a fox in the proverbial hen house.
Finally, in our lead editorial, we show how Russia is rapidly becoming a world-leading pipeline of dangerous offensive weapons to rogue terrorist states like Syria and venal terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
It all adds up to just one thing: Obama is, willfully or not, undeniably a traitor to American values and the nation that elected him to lead it.
David Kramer, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the George W. Bush administration, writing in the Washington Post:
The most glaring example of this trend came this week. In a message accompanying the White House’s resubmission to Congress of a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia, President Obama declared that the situation in Georgia “need no longer be considered an obstacle to proceeding” with congressional review of the agreement. The Bush administration signed this “123” agreement in May 2008 but withdrew it from congressional consideration four months later, knowing it would be rejected in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Georgia that August. Russian forces continue to occupy separatist parts of Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement between the two countries and are constructing bases in both regions, which Moscow has recognized as independent states. The situation remains tense and could easily explode again.
Ken Blackwell, writing on the Huffington Post:
As a candidate, Barack Obama wowed the world. He went to Berlin and gave a speech at their victory monument. It was a curious venue for such a speech. But a million Germans came out to hear him. It was a phenomenal scene. No one remembers what he said there, but it was quite a show. A year later, when he returned to the continent, as president, he spoke at Normandy. No one can quite recall what Obama said, but everyone remembers what Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said: “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above — above the world, he’s sort of God.”
If you are hailed as a “sort of God,” it’s no wonder that your head gets turned. You don’t want to seem puffed up, or succumb to the sin of pride. So you start apologizing. Not for yourself, but for your country. America has been arrogant, you tell the world. America has tried to go it alone. America has not sufficiently respected the rest of the world. And you bow. You bow a lot.
Defense policy expert Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
As they say in Italy, a little fish is better than a big cockroach. This also applies to the New START agreement that Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed Thursday. Despite all the hyped-up rhetoric that the treaty is “historic,” in the end the nuclear arsenals of both sides will be reduced by only 100 to 200 deployed warheads.
Unlike other treaties between the two countries that were truly historic — such as the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in which an entire category of weapons was destroyed — the only warheads that will be destroyed under the New START are those that will be decommissioned and were scheduled to be destroyed anyway. All other warheads exceeding the 1,550 limit imposed by the treaty will be stored in military warehouses.
Writing on Foreign Policy: Jamie M. Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative and Gary Schmitt, director of the Program on Advanced Strategic Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, say that Barack Obama is acting just like George Bush where Russia is concerned.
Still in the midst of a diplomatic fracas with Israel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also found herself in a mini-crisis with Russia during last week’s Moscow trip. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly snubbed Clinton during a meeting Friday, hectoring her in front of reporters after announcing Thursday that Russia would bring the nuclear reactor it is constructing in Iran online later this year. This comes just as Washington is hoping to tighten the screws on Tehran over its illicit nuclear program.
Putin’s treatment of Clinton raises doubts about the Barack Obama administration’s strategy toward Russia, which has focused on building up the supposedly moderate President Dmitri Medvedev, reportedly one of the few foreign leaders Obama has bonded with, as a counterweight to Putin.
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Tagged obama, russia
Obama Teaches Russia a Lesson
Obama, famous on YouTube for flyswatting says: "This year was a tough one. More and more problems every day." Source: Ellustrator.
Last Tuesday must have been rather disturbing for the denizens of the Russian Kremlin.
American voters helped the Republican Party adminster a “humiliating” beat-down of the Democrats in gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, both states Barack Obama easily carried last year in his presidential bid. The humiliation for Obama was especially intense in New Jersey, an overwhemlingly “blue” state that hadn’t seen Republicans in the statehouse in ages, a state Obama won in a landslide and where he campaigned actively for the Democratic incumbent. And the Republicans didn’t just win, they won in absolutely dominating, blowout fashion. It seems that reports of the GOP’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
These results would have the Kremlin heads spinning for two different reasons.
Here’s something you don’t see every day, a classic bit of Internet adventure. Someone claiming to be Michael McFaul, Barack Obama’s chief Russia advisor, has posted two comments to Oleg Kozlovsky’s Facebook page under a post which Oleg also blogged in which he discussed a report quoting McFaul in the Kommersant newspaper; Kommersant reported that McFaul had said the U.S. would back away from pressuring Russian on human rights. On Facebook (screenshot after the jump for those without Facebook accounts) “Michael McFaul” wrote:
Kommersant grossly misquoted me. See Interfax transcript if you want to see what I really said. And anyone who knows anything about my thinking would be suspicious of such an assessment of my views.
LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld has intiated a little dialogue with “McFaul” using our Facebook account, for those who are Facebook members and wish to follow it, for what it is worth. We’ve previously discussed McFaul’s alleged appeasing statements to Kommersant . Obviously, they tended to seriously undermine the impetus to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship, and although McFaul claims not to have made them there is scant evidence of either he or Barack Obama saying anything to the contrary, directly challenging Putin on human rights, since Obama came to power. In other words, perhaps what’s most troubling about the McFaul quote was that it was credible, not whether it was actually true or not.
Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, writing on the History News Network:
President Obama’s decision to abandon the plan to deploy a missile defense system in Europe shocked many analysts in the United States as well as our eastern European allies who were counting on the shield to protect them from the threat of Russian missiles. Perhaps the only one who was not surprised was the political chess grandmaster Vladimir Putin.
I did not understand the game that Putin was playing until a chance meeting two years ago with an Israeli who had just returned from a meeting at the Kremlin. At the time, the United States and its European allies were pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran at the United Nations and the Russians, as they had up to that point, refused to go along and threatened to veto any Security Council resolution that would have any teeth. The Russians were also in the process of completing construction of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, which further undermined the campaign to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Barack Obama, Traitor to American Values
Obama stabs liberty in the back
In a blog post on October 13th, as translated by Paul Goble two days later, Anton Orekh of the Echo of Moscow radio station declared that U.S. President Barack Obama had given up on the notion of democracy and human rights in Russia and would treat the country as a hopeless case on that score, the same as the U.S. had done to the USSR during the Cold War.
This came on the heels of a sensational story reported by the Kommersant newspaper quoting Obama’s Russia advisor Michael McFaul as saying “that the US no longer intends to teach Russia about democracy, creating tension with Moscow, and intends to concentrate on practical work with non-governmental organisations.” Oleg Orlov of the Memorial NGO allegedly then confronted (Russian link) McFaul about the remarks, and he supposedly denied making them.
The impression made by all this rumor-mongering, which Obama himself has certainly not denied, is predictable.
Putin Punks Obama
Mista Obama, u been played.
Last week, despite much Russian ass-kissing by Barack Obama, Russia’s chief diplomat spurned not only the notion of actual sanctions against the incipient nuclear weapons program being developed by Iran, with much Russian assistance, but even the threat of such sanctions. Soon after that, Putin himself began issuing ominous warnings about leaving Iran alone.
It was clear: Obama had been punk’d.
It was not a good week for the American President. First he was humilated when he sought to win the Olympic Games for his home city of Chicago, then when he won a Nobel Prize that nobody on the face of the Earth believes he deserves, and then finally when Russia spit in his eye after he unilaterally cancelled the ballistic missile system for Eastern Europe as part of his now infamous effort to “reset” relations with the neo-Soviet dictatorship.
The Scourge of Pandemic Russian Racism
(and the Cowardly Treachery of Barack Obama)
According to a recent report by the BBC, nearly 60% of black people living in Russia have been physically assaulted in a racially motivated attack, and live in constant fear of such incidents. A quarter of those surveyed by the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy had been attacked more than once and four out of five had been verbally assaulted.
These besieged people are terrified to ride the metro, cower in their homes like prisoners on any nationalist holiday, and avoid all crowds in general.
Commenters on the BBC story told the tale:
Just as LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld predicted would occur two weeks ago in her Pajamas Media column, U.S. President Barack Obama has shamefully stabbed America’s allies in Poland and Czech Republic in the back by withdrawing America’s proposal to install a ballistic missile defense system in their countries. Advantage, Russia. Not by any cleverness on the part of the Russians, mind you, but simply because of the American president’s lack of backbone, and brain.
Vladimir Putin is cheering Obama, calling him “brave.” It is truly psychotic for a man from whose mouth so much vitriolic anti-American rhetoric has issued would think he could deliver compliments and be taken seriously. It is truly undeniable proof of the depths to which the Obama administration has so quickly sunk that it is being praised as serving the interests of Russia by a proud KGB spy who has wiped out the last traces of American values in Russia.
But what Putin isn’t doing is offering any concecessions of any kind in return regarding Iran. Instead, Putin is merely giving reassurances that Russia won’t now station offensive ballistic missiles near Eastern Europe, something Russia never indended to do before President Bush established the shield initiative several years ago. And then he’s demanding even more concessions!
Writing on the Foreign Policy website A. Wess Mitchell, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington-based policy institute dedicated to the study of Central Europe, and Jamie M. Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2005 to 2009, warn the world about the consequences of Barack Obama’s repugnant cowardice towards Russia:
Late last month, a Polish newspaper revealed that the Barack Obama administration plans to discontinue the deployment of U.S. ballistic missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. In their place, the White House reportedly wants to build a modified, short-range version of the program in the Balkans or Turkey. This relocation, the administration assumes, will assuage Russian concerns while continuing to provide an effective defense against the threat of Iran’s growing missile program. Proponents of such a move argue that the result will be increased Russian cooperation abroad, newfound favor with anti-shield Western European allies, and — best of all — freedom to divert U.S. attention from Europe’s contentious east to bigger problems elsewhere.
If the administration is aware of the political costs of this new approach, it seems to think they will be limited to a minor abrasion in U.S.-Polish and U.S.-Czech relations — to be cleared up easily with some careful PR and a consolation prize. After all, what are a few hurt feelings among two small allies compared with improved relations with Moscow? Isn’t the prospect of a “reset” relationship with Russia worth the cost of U.S. disengagement from Central Europe in general and backpedaling on missile defense in particular?
Actually, no. These costs are very real, and they stretch well beyond PR to involve primary, long-term U.S. strategic interests. Consider just these four:
Celestine Bohlen of Bloomberg News, writing in the New York Times:
Russia is still getting away with murder.
On Tuesday, two more bodies of human rights workers were found in the southern republic of Chechnya, this time in the trunk of a car.
This comes less than a month after the shocking death of Natalya Estemirova, a 50-year-old human-rights campaigner whose body was dumped by the side of a road. She had been shot several times — at least once in the head, which is the signature for the killers who have been methodically eliminating critics and rivals of Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya.
Once again, Mr. Kadyrov, who is just 32, has mocked both his accusers and the victims. “Why should Kadyrov kill a woman who was useful to no one?” he scoffed when asked by Radio Free Europe about allegations that he was responsible for Ms. Estemirova’s death. “She was devoid of honor, merit and conscience.”
U.S. President Barack Obama’s benighted Russia policy is just one hallmark of an increasingly failed administration, and the people of the United States are getting wise. Just look at those job approval ratings! He’s inches away from seeing the red disapproval line exceed the blue approval line, and he’s only a few months into his presidency. Time for a rethink, Mr. Obama?
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Tagged obama, russia
Obaby Makes a Mess in Moscow
No sooner had we come out in support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Russia policy last week, based on his pronouncments setting the foundation for his first state visit to Russia, than he stabbed us in the back. When we called upon him to carry his diplomacy into real policy initiatives, we never dreamed what we should have done is call upon him to carry his diplomatic rhetoric through to the end of his visit rather than suddenly reversing course and babbling like a goose. A cowardly, benighted goose.
We hate when that happens.
Putin seems to have been a little slow turning the head to the right on this one. Based on that facial expression, Does Putvedev think he/it has a live one?
“I agree with President Medvedev when he said that ‘freedom is better than the absence of freedom’. I see no reason why strengthening democracy, human rights and the rule of law cannot be included as part of our ‘reset’ in relations. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
– U.S. President Barack Obama to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in an interview (Russian version) the paper has published just as he opens talks with the Kremlin
Other Russia is reporting that Obama intends to meet with opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov (who is crowing with in-your-face jubiliation). The combination of the interview and the meeting make one very bitter pill for Vladimir Putin to swallow. For the first time since we started blogging about Russia, we are excited about the country’s future in a positive way. Go, Obama, go!
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Tagged obama, russia
An editorial in the Washington Post sounds the clarion call of warning on Russian aggression in Georgia:
A year ago, Russian military maneuvers and provocations of the former Soviet republic of Georgia caused a couple of astute observers to predict that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a military invasion of its democratic and pro-Western neighbor. The warnings were laughed off — until Russian forces poured across Georgia’s borders on the night of Aug. 7, routing the Georgian army and driving thousands of ethnic Georgians from two breakaway provinces. Ten months later, with another summer approaching, Russia is once again mounting provocations on the ground and in diplomatic forums; once again it has scheduled a large military training exercise for July in the region bordering Georgia.
Give Poland her Missiles, Mr. Obama!
Polish leader Donald Tusk is practically begging the Obama administraton to give his country the Patriot missiles it needs to protect itself from Russian aggression. Having seen Russian tanks rolling into Georgia last August, every man woman and child in Poland is on edge, remembering only too well how it feels to look down the business end of a Russian tank barrel. The horror of Russia’s Katyn massacre of unarmed Polish officers still fresh in their minds, and a proud KGB spy ruling Russia, Poland knows it needs to act and act fast in order to protect itself.
Waiting for Godobama
“Most Russians don’t care whether they are ruled by fascists or communists or even Martians as long as they can buy six kinds of sausage in the store and lots of cheap vodka.”
- – Alexander Lebed (General, Governor, Presidential Candidate)The Financial Times, September 6, 1994
It was announced last week that U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a summit with “president” Dima Medvedev in Moscow on July 6th. Hopefully Obama will be smart enough to stay away from the Moscow Metro, where his lynching would be almost assured, and will not be idiotic enough to think he’s talking to the actual ruler of Russia. Vladimir Ryzhkov, who knows the corridors of Kremlin power far better than Obama, says the American naif is dealing with a counterpart who is just “pretending to lead.”
But the more important question is whether Obama will finally have the courage and intelligence to speak up for American values, something so many heroic people in Russia desperately want him to do.
Russia to Obama — Drop Dead!
At a news conference in Strasbourg, France following a meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy on April 4th, Barack Obama stated in response to a question from an Austrian reporter:
It was also interesting to see that political interaction in Europe is not that different from the United States Senate. There’s a lot of — I don’t know what the term is in Austrian — wheeling and dealing — and, you know, people are pursuing their interests, and everybody has their own particular issues and their own particular politics.
Nobody knows what that term is, Mr. Obama — because there is no “Austrian” language. They speak German in Austria, sir. You need to get out a bit more. Or maybe just reading a tad more widely would do the trick.
It’s just this kind of thing that, quite likely, has led the Russian government to believe that the President of the United States is a moronic patsy, easily duped, and recent events involving Iran tend to confirm this.