EDITORIAL: Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?

EDITORIAL

Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?

The new cold war is well underway, and Dima Medvedev’s Russia is consumed with a frenzied desire to provoke the Americans into a costly full-scale arms race Russia can ill afford.  No sooner had it been announced that the U.S. would undertake a massive program to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, obviously a direct response to Russian threats which have included buzzing the Americans with nuclear bombers, than Medvedev was threatening to place Russian offensive missiles on the border of the Baltics, in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.  This makes the missile defense system now being installed in Eastern Europe, of course, all the more essential.  Medvedev declined to congratulate president-elect Barack Obama, a clear signal that relations are about to get even frostier with the world’s only superpower.  Obama snubbed him right back.

And yet, Obama remains silent about Kaliningrad.  He is receiving national security briefings on a daily basis, yet we still have not heard one single word from him on Medvedev’s “missiles of November.” No sooner did we congratulate Mr. Obama on his electoral victory that he already has disappointed us.  We feel betrayed.  When another Democratic president, John Kennedy, was confronted by a missile provocation, he responded swiftly with condemnation and a U.S. military response.  Obama has been tested, and he has failed.  John McCain, America’s leading policymaker on Russia, cannot speak out for fear of being accused of divisiveness in the wake of the electoral results.  Obama must speak out, and he  must do it now.  The Washington Post attempts to give Obama cover, arguing he can just ignore the problem and it will go away, that all Putin wants is attention.  That’s naive nonsense, exactly the kind that gave us Josef Stalin.

One would never imagine, from Medvedev’s behavior, that Russia does not rank in the top 100 nations of the world for male adult lifespan.  No clue is given from his antics that the Russian stock market has collapsed, losing 75% of its value in the space of six months, or that his government will end the year presiding over double-digit consumer price inflation.  From his actions, no onlooker could guess that Russia has been condemned and ostracized by the entire civilized world over its naked aggression in Georgia, spurned by the World Trade Organzation and repudiated by international investors to the tune of billions of dollars in capital flight.

From appearances, it seems Medvedev believes his nation is invulnerable and equal in power not only to the United States but to the entire NATO alliance. Apparently, he’s not a frequent reader of the Moscow Times.  Were he, then on Wednesday alone he would have read how his government has been forced to lower the excise tax on crude oil in order to prevent the nation’s fossil fuel industry from going bankrupt, thus depriving his government of it’s only significant source of income as oil prices plummet.  He would have read how Gazprom and St. Petersburg local government, desperately strapped for cash, are cancelling plans to build a giant skyscraper for Gazprom’s new headquarters.  And he might have thought to himself:  Can we really afford to provoke a whole new cold war with the world’s only superpower, a confrontation exactly like the one that destroyed the USSR?

For the record, we should point out that there are those who might argue that America has no more right to object to Russia installing missles in Kaliningrad than Russia would to object to the U.S. putting missiles in Alaska. That’s simply false, for four reasons:

  • First, Alaska doesn’t share a border with a country the missiles possibly could be used against, Kaliningrad does. Therefore, it’s immeasurably more provocative.
  • Second, America is a superpower, Russia isn’t. Russia simply can’t afford to take the same kind of measures the U.S. can get away with. To believe otherwise is suicidal. Kaliningrad would not be at all easy for Russia to defend if NATO were to move against it.
  • Third, America has no record of mass murder and and repression in Alaska the way Russia does in the Kaliningrad region (Katyn, etc.). It’s flatly immoral for Russia to act in this manner.
  • Finally, it is ludicrous on its face to suggest that Russia has a clear title to Kaliningrad. Alaska was purchased in a business transaction; Kaliningrad was annexed by the Soviet army.

What Medvedev is doing in Kaliningrad is quite simple: He is intentionally escalating a military confrontation that Russia, like the USSR before it, has no hope of winning, and doing so even though he is fully aware of the dire and desperate need his countrymen have for investment in social services and infrastructure.

In short, Medvedev is far more dangerous to Russia’s future than any foreign “enemy” you can name.

__________________________

NOTE:  A word about Mr. Obama’s “Victory”

A few facts about Barack Obama’s “victory” days ago, just for context:

  1. Obama won 349 electoral votes.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan collected 489.  Though Reagan’s opponent, Jimmy Carter, was very unpopular, Obama’s opponent was far more unpopular. So Obama’s margin should have been much larger than it was.
  2. Obama won 63.4 million popular votes. That’s just 2% more than the supposedly despised George Bush got in 2004.
  3. In 2004 the two major parties collected 121 million votes. In 2008, they only got 119 million votes.   Nearly 40% of Americans ignored the election and stayed away from the polls.  So much for the Obama inspiration factor!
  4. Obama’s voters enacted gay marriage bans in many states, indicating his left-wing support is paper thin.
  5. Republicans still have the filibuster and can block any Obama initiative in the Senate, especially since conservative “Democrats” like Joe Lieberman are likely to cross the aisle.
  6. Democrats were lucky to lose in 2004. Had they not, they would have been blamed for the economic downturn.  Republicans may well turn out to have been very lucky to lose this election. Democrats would do well to remember what happened to Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson after their glorious “victories.”  The U.S. stock market has plunged dramatically in the days since Obama was elected.

35 responses to “EDITORIAL: Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?

  1. Two points here. The big one deals with LR’s list of why missiles in Alaska are different from Kaliningrad. The key difference to the Alaska and the Euro missiles is that they are purely defensive in nature. They have no capability to strike ground targets, they cannot be aimed at cities, and they pose no threat whatsoever to a peaceful neighbor. These missiles are designed strictly to shoot down other missiles and nothing else. So, if Russia has no plans to launch ballistic missiles at Europe or the US (in case of Alaska), then there is no threat posed by these missiles to Russia. It is beyond idiocy for Russian to claim with a straight face that these missiles are a threat to them. The Iskander (SS-21) missiles are an offensive weapon system. It is a missile that is several generations of improvement over the Scud of the Gulf War fame. The missiles do not serve any military value as they are too expensive and not precise enough to strike precision military targets. Just like the Scud (and the V-2 rockets of WWII) it is strictly a terror weapon against population centers. The Russians used them as such when they struck Georgia with them.
    Second, if I was Poland and Lithuania, I would close off all ground supply routes between Russia proper and Kaliningrad. I would allow the very basic humanitarian supplies to get through but every truck would get the gloved finger inspection to make sure that no military supplies are being sent.

  2. Anybody knows just how many Iskanders have the russkies built in the years of “getting up from the knees”?

  3. Dear Oleg,

    I’m dying of curiosity: just when, and how did Russia use the Iskander missiles against Georgia? As to “cutting off all ground supply routes between Russia proper and Kaliningrad”… well, back in 1992 Armenia resorted to arms to make a “corridor” (the so-called “Lachin corridor” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lachin_corridor) through the territory of Azerbaijan to Nagorno-Karabakh that is even not a part of its internationally recognized territory. The “international community” swallowed it… I’m afraid, if Russia follows Armenia’s example, the “international community” won’t bother much either.

  4. I would also like to point out that almost all Russian military supplies to Kaliningrad go by barge – not truck or rail over Lithuania (but to which it has a legal right).

    Missile defense in Poland is provocative because if the US were to launch a sudden mass counter-force strike on Russia, any remaining Russian retaliatory missiles could be wiped out by US ABM at Greely/Vandenburg and soon to be Poland.

  5. Is Katyn in Kaliningrad dear LR? As far i have understood the missiles in Kaliningrad would be respond to the missile shiled that will be installed in Chech Republic and Poland.

    Not arguing the usefulness of the measures taken by the Russian side, one would think that the main reason for Russians objections of the missile shield is the unstabilizating factor for the nuclear deterrent of the missile shield to be installed in Europe. Am I wrong?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    It says the REGION where Kaliningrad is located, you baboon. Russia commited vast untold human rights atrocities throughout the region. Please read what we write in good faith before you comment, unless you WANT to be banned.

    You are utterly wrong. Russia is escalating the arms race just as the USSR did, and it will lose just as the USSR did. Do you really think NATO will simply ignore this? If the missile shield had to be “X” with no missiles in Kaliningrad, now it must be “X+Y”. NATO can easily outspend Russia and drive it right into bankruptcy just as it did the USSR. Instead of negotiating, Russia is provoking. If Russia thinks it is threatened by the missile shield, shouldn’t it ask why Eastern Europe feels threatned by Russia? Apparently not, in your deluded and ignorant “opinion.”

  6. Dear Eugene,

    Google is a wonderful thing. You may consider using it or keeping up with the news. I will indulge you this one time. Here is an article from a RUSSIAN newspaper: http://www.novayagazeta.ru/news/318493.html. It is in Russian, so get your own translation. However, I will vouch that it said the Georgians found and displayed pieces of the Tochka (a variant of the Iskander) missile in a Georgian village in S. Ossetia. Just like I said, the Russians used it as a terror weapon. Here is one for you in English http://www.defense-update.com/products/i/iskander.htm — see paragraph 2.
    As for the land supply route to the Kaliningrad enclave, I could not care less how the Russians transported their military supplies. The idea would be to make it very painful for the Russian commerce and resupply.
    Finally, could the russophiles explain two things to me regarding the missile defense shield?
    1) If the Russians needed to launch a nuclear counter-strike (or a first strike) with their nuclear arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) against the US, these missiles would fly northward, over the North Pole, as the shortest distance to the US. Most of the Russian ICBM silos are in the middle of the country, way out of range of the european missile defense shield. Exactly when would those ICBMs be threatened by the missile defense shield in Poland?
    2) If, for whatever reason, the Russians decided to launch a nuclear missile strike at Europe, the Polish site has 10 (yes, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) interceptors total. The Russians have an arsenal of hundreds of missiles, many of them with multiple warheads. Exactly how would the 10 missiles from Poland be any threat to that arsenal?

  7. Dear Oleg,

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that the USA is a liar and father of lies. It lied that the NATO would not expand, it lied about the 9.11, it lied about Osama bin Laden hiding in Afghanistan, it lied about WMD in Iraq… No Russian in his sound mind will ever believe a syllable uttered by any US leader – except, of course, a handful of freaks from Novaya Gazeta, Echo Moskvy radio and other leprosaries for American ass-kissers.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: Whereas the KGB regime of Vladimir Putin is universally acknowledged to be a truth speaker and a father of truth, presumably?

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! You sure are a funny guy, Gene. And by funny,we mean teched.

  8. Truth hurts, Eugene, when you live in a Third World nation with nukes. As long as you keep your eyes closed, you think you live in a paradise on Earth. As the famouseDean Wormer said in Animal House: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

  9. La Russophobe, why are you disappointed in the Great Appeaser? I’m not surprised why Medvedev is aggressive and I’m not really surprised that Obama could care less.
    Things will be very bumpy in Eastern Europe.

  10. I don’t understand. If Medvedev did not congratulate Obama, how could Obama snub him by not responding to his congratulation?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Your problem stems from illiterancy and stupidity. Obama snubbed Medvedev by not including him in a round of telephone calls to world leaders offering greetings. Russia was excluded from that as McCain had suggested it be excluded from the G-8.

  11. Maybe I am illiterate, but didn’t the Kommersant article you link to write:

    “Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev wasn’t in the list of world leaders, to whom U.S. President-elect Barack Obama called to thank for congratulations on historic victory. ”

    I read this sentence as meanig one of several things:

    1. Obama did not call everybody who congratulated him.

    2. Obama called all those who congratulated him.

    3. Obama did not call anybody who did not congratulate him.

    In the first case, Medvedev was being snubbed only if he did not congratulate Obama, which you say he did not, in which case he was not snubbed. However, Obama would have snubbed a lot of other leaders who congratulated him.

    In the second case,

    In the second case, Medvedev was not snubbed, since he did not congratulate Obama in the first place.

    In the third case, Medvedev was not snubbed, since he did not congratulate Obama in the first place.

    So, Obama only snubbed Medvedev if Medvedev had send congratulations, which he apparently did not.

    Or am I missing something?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    There’s no maybe about it, you are illiterate and stupid.

    Medvedev DID send a message to Obama, but it LACKED an explicit congratulation and Obama did not respond to Medvedev’s message or include him in the list of leaders who obviously would be viewed by his administration as most deserving of contact and respect. Medvedev’s message contained an invitation to cooperate, and Obama snubbed that invitation, publicly and openly.

    Try to think at least a little before you publish your comments in writing. It will help you avoid looking as much like an insignificant baboon as you do.

  12. Dear Oleg,

    “Fat (after a lifetime of gobbling hormone-infested hamburgers), drunk (on a solution of obscure chemicals called Coca-Cola) and stupid (often unable to locate their own country on the map)” is a very precise description of those who have the immense luck to live in “the world’s only superpower”, a colossus whose feet are not of clay but of paper – those green shreds of paper decorated with images of long-dead Presidents. If you are a U.S. citizen, please try to recollect the astronomical sum your country owes to the world, and think how on earth can it be repaid?

  13. Eugene,

    Yes, obesity is somewhat less of a problem in Russia so far: with income levels like that, it is hard to eat enough, let alone too much. Under-nutrition is not very helpful when facing such an epidemic of TB as Russia does, though.

    Stupid? Take almost any world top-100 university rating – and you will find lots of American schools at the top. You may occasionally find 1 Russian school somewhere at the bottom, but mostly it is a big round 0.

    You may argue that there are many smart Russians in those American schools. That is true: given the way Russia is heading, looks pretty much like all smart Russians have already left.

    As for _drunk_, coming from a Russian – well, that’s a good one, ROTFL.

    As for the astronomical sum – you seem to forget the astronomical sum America is producing every year, year after year, not just when oil prices are high. Look at the dollar/ruble exchange rate to see, whose ability to produce value Russians trust more: money talks, Putin walks.

    Was that detailed enough for you to understand just how laughable your statements are?

  14. I hope we are not going to see more of this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7717669.stm
    US President-elect Barack Obama has not given a commitment to go ahead with plans to build part of a US missile defence system in Poland, an aide says.

  15. Dearest Ivan,

    Just a few weeks ago we saw with our own eyes what the AAA ratings assigned to American banks and mortgage agencies are really worth. Why should ratings given to American universities be any truer? And if the American nation is so well-educated and American democracy is such an efficient government system, couldn’t this great nation find itself wiser leaders than Dubya, McCain/Palin and Obama? I think, with a population of 300 million people, it isn’t that difficult.

  16. Eugene, who is more intellegent, the person that accepts conventional wisdom or the one that tirelessly tries to disprove it?

    You are the pinacle of ignorance.

  17. You can bash america all you like, but the average “poor person” has air conditioning, heating, indoor plumbing, cable TV, cell phones and welfare if they decide their too pridefull not to work.

    It’s fortunate for them that we elected a socialist, because Obama is the one that they have been waiting for.

    Once the rich are pilfered and robbed, who is going to pay for your STD tests? Where is the money going to come from when your daughter gets raped and you don’t have the money to persue a lawsuit against him.

    The government won’t be able to afford it, because there are no more rich people to tax.

    How’s that for justice?

  18. What a truly Russian thinking, Eugene.

    With that logic of yours, the power rating on my notebook’s power adapter cannot be trusted either, since it is called rating as well, and it is American. The truth is, by any objective measure Russia is an intellectual non-entity compared to the US.

    Nobody said the American democracy is very efficient, it is only the best in the world. That is why it is above 300 million already, while all sane people are leaving Russia as fast they can: not much of a chance to create a Google when Putin’s corrupt bureaucrats are ripping you off at every turn.

    As far as wise leaders go, it is quite laughable to even think of comparing a Harvard graduate with a murder-in-the-outhouse KGB thug the Russians “found” for themselves. You gotta be drunk with something Russians strongly prefer over Coca-Cola not to understand this.

  19. Dearest Ivan,

    > With that logic of yours, the power rating on my notebook’s power adapter cannot be trusted either

    No, it can… because the adapter is very likely to have made in China stamped on it. :D

    > all sane people are leaving Russia as fast they can

    Please visit the Russian State Statistics Service website http://www.gks.ru to find that Russia’s immigration/emigration balance is positive, i.e. more people come to live to Russia than leave it!

    > not much of a chance to create a Google

    One has to be content with Yandex then! ;-)

    > it is quite laughable to even think of comparing a Harvard graduate

    wh0 somehow managed to get his diploma because his papa helped him along – and saved him from service in Nam, as well!

    > with a murder-in-the-outhouse KGB thug

    The “KGB thug” is a St. Petersburg University graduate who managed to outwit your “Harvard graduate at every turn. That is the best “rating” for both educational establishments. :-))

  20. Here is a true story of what the rest of the civilized world thinks of Russia:

    I was in St Pete on language immersion a few years ago, and when we left, we were travelling through Frankfurt. In my absentmindness, I forgot to exchange the rubles back into dollars while I was in Russia. So, I walked up to the Currency Exchange booth at the Frankfurt airport and asked for the rubles to be exchanged into dollars. The man behind the counter looked at me with a sad face and said that he could not exchange the rubles as it is non-convertable currency. I asked him what was I supposed to do with all those rubles. At that point, he helpfully reached down and offered me his trashcan.

    Enough said.

  21. Dear Oleg,

    As long as that Frankfurt burgher you wrote about uses Russian gas to heat his home and pays his fully convertible Euros for it, we in Russia don’t care a damn what he thinks about Russia or whether he thinks about it at all. Since Russians caused a very democratically elected head of German state, one Adolf Hitler, to commit suicide, they don’t feel any inferiority complex in respect of Germans.

    Enough said.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    That may not be very long at all, you ignoramus. Russian oil output fell 25% in November and Nemtsov has documented that it is running out of gas too.

    Truly, your mendacity and stupidity know no bounds.

  22. 1. Why should Russia increase oil output during world recession? So that oil would become even cheaper?

    2. Borya Nemtsov is an expert on natural hydrocarbons, besides everything else? Oh my!

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Thanks for confirming your ignorance and mendacity so emphatically!

    (1) Russia didn’t fail to increase output, it cut output. Moron.

    (2) Russia’ oil exports fell because the government refused to reduce tarrifs in line with the fall in price. When exports fall, Russia’s reserves deplete and the national budget is decimated because it depends utterly on export tarriffs to maintain solvency and on reserves to preserve the value of the ruble, which is now expected to devalue by 30%, which translates into 30% consumer price inflation on top of the 13% burden Russians already bear. This is a bad thing. Dimwit.

    (3) Yes, he is. And he works with a former deputy energy minister, who is even more of an expert than he is. Witless cretin.

  23. Eugene is exhibit “A” is what is wrong with Russia. For some reason he considers Russia to be in the same league as US. There are many countries in the same league as Russia – Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Ecuador to name a few. None of whom try to prove to themselves that they are in some way competing with US or Germany. Eugene “doesn’t feel inferiority complex” towards Germans. It doesn’t bother him that Hitler committed suicide and the country was totally rejuvenated psychologically, whereas Stalin was buried in Red Square, and his descendants carry his banner half-century later. He is equally proud that the day of reconciliation was set on the day of Russian victory over Poles. As Russian joke goes, против кого дружим? (“against whom are we going to be friends today?”)
    He is confident that oil and gas gives Russia perennial power over the customers but doesn’t worry that Germany and Japan will deprive him of BMW and Lexus. Not to mention that in normal countries customers have power over vendors; not the other way around. I imagine Costa-Rica placing missiles pointing to US and comforting themselves that as long as Kansas Joe buys bananas, there is nothing to worry about.
    Until Russia starts competing against their peers (Indonesia, Egypt, Peru) there is no way they can get in the upper league (Chile, Qatar, Turkey). Until then – in the words of famous Russian poet: Ах Моська, знать она сильна что лает на слона

  24. Just to jump back to the original topic, Obama was trying to ride on the coattails of Kennedy’s camelot bs.

    That is when the democrats finally realized that Kennedy caused more harm than good, I thoght that Kennedy was finally going to be vetted, but they abbandoned it.

    Maybe next time.

  25. Eugene,

    right, the net migration rate for Russia is positive: the university professors leaving for the West are promptly replaced by illiterate semi-slaves from Uzbekistan, who are not yet murdered by Russian skinheads in such numbers as to make the overall migration rate negative. All that is sure to move Russia even further up in university rankings, not to mention human rights ratings.

  26. > There are many countries countries in the same league as Russia – Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Ecuador to name a few.

    Does any of these countries have enough nuclear weapons to rid the world from “the Only Superpower” forever? Russia does.

  27. If they can get them to work.

  28. Maintenance on these weapons costs alot more than Russia can afford to spend.

  29. Dear Mr. seanquixote,

    1. Regular test show that they can.

    2. Please don’t count money in someone else’s (in this case, Russia’s) purse – it is mauvais ton. . :-)

  30. A correspondence between North Vietnam and Russia.

    NVA: we need supplies.

    Russia: tighten your belts.

    NVA: send belts.

  31. Senator McCain might tell you a lot of Soviet/Russian aid to Vietnam that helped down his plane there.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    He could also tell you a lot about the American aid to Europe that helped down the USSR.

  32. It wasn’t the “American aid to Europe” that downed the USSR, it was the American/Western fifth column inside the USSR – the rotten intelligentsia. It cost Russia dearly to get rid of it, but it is done! Free at last, free at last… ©.

  33. > Does any of these countries have enough nuclear weapons to rid the world from “the Only Superpower” forever? Russia does.

    If one needs any more proof that Eugene is exhibit “A” is what is wrong with Russia.

    Nobody argues that US and UK are in “upper league” because they have nukes. At the same time nobody disputes that Russia being in the second league AND having nukes are a menace to the world. I guess, it puts Russia in the same company as Iran and North Korea.

    Eugene doesn’t see anything wrong with today’s state of affairs in Russia – it got rid of rotten intelligentsia and now it’s free at last! What more can one desire.

    Stick around, dear Eugene – useful American idiots need to see more of you. Since nobody is reading your blog, you may as well spew your profound thoughts here!

  34. “He could also tell you a lot about the American aid to Europe that helped down the USSR.”

    Wouldn’t have been necessary were it not for “Kennedy’s Camelot”.

    The USSR’s rise to superpower status was on the back of Kennedy’s ignorance. He’s the only reason the USSR was taken seriously.

  35. “1. Regular test show that they can.”

    Tests can be manipulated to achieve a desired result. Conventional wisdom is one of those examples. It has been proven wrong thousands of times throughout history however it still stands throughout society.

    It may have changed on the surface, but the people that challenge it are the ones that make names for themselves.

    Seriously, Russia does not have enough money to maintain these weapons. If you want me to type that in bold, I will do that just for you.

    In fact, Russia doesn’t even have enough money to destroy some of them to make them compliant with treaties.

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