Exposing Obama’s Benighted and Dangerous Russia Policy

International lawyer Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky, writing in the National Review:

President Obama’s secret letter to Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has, as promised, “pressed the reset button” on U.S.–Russian relations. The president has offered to abandon America’s planned deployment of an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe in exchange for Russia’s help against Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. This is an enormous diplomatic blunder that will encourage the very worst sort of conduct from Russia — and Iran.

The president’s proposal has superficial appeal. If, as the United States has repeatedly assured Russia, the shield is directed at Iranian, not Russian, missiles, the deal might seem to make sense: better to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands in the first place than to erect a shield against them. Yet this is to ignore both Russia’s backing of Iran’s nuclear program and the missile shield’s place in the strategic relationship between the U.S., Russia, and the still-newly-free states of Eastern Europe.

Iran’s imminent nuclear capability is a problem largely of Russia’s making. At a hefty profit, Russia has built Iran a nuclear plant at Bushehr, which is expected to be operational by summer. At the same time, Russia has consistently pulled the teeth from U.N. resolutions aimed at sanctioning Iran’s nuclear program. If, as some believe, Iran already has enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, Russia’s supply of technology and expertise will have been very much to blame.

The missile shield may have been aimed at Iranian missiles, but in a different sense, it is aimed at Russia. The shield acts as a gauge of the U.S. commitment to Eastern Europe’s independence from Russia. Its deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic was meant to create a tie more reassuring to those living in Russia’s strategic shadow than mere NATO membership.

Russia’s fierce opposition to the missile shield springs from these very same considerations. Military reasons alone cannot explain it; the shield — designed to block one or two rockets from Iran — has no chance of undermining Russia’s strategic deterrent. It signaled, however, that the U.S. viewed Russia’s former satellites as equal members of the democratic West, and no longer Russia’s to impose upon. The agreement to base anti-missile missiles in Poland was part of the West’s otherwise weak response to Russia’s invasion of Georgia last summer. Russia responded by threatening to attack Poland with nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration presumably knows all this. They know about Russia’s support for Iran’s nuclear program and its ambition to resume its domination of the countries of the former Soviet Empire. Yet instead of holding Russia accountable for abetting Iran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, President Obama has invited Medvedev and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin to name their price for some vague and unspecified “assistance” in controlling a problem that they deliberately created.

The White House has, of course, backtracked. Administration spokesmen protest that the president’s letter proposed no quid pro quo, and that the U.S. commitment to its allies in Eastern Europe is “in no way” reduced. But actions speak louder than words. Leaders in Warsaw, Prague, Tbilisi, and Kiev will not overlook that the U.S. offer to Russia was made in secret. Unless the Obama administration changes course quickly, Eastern Europe’s new democracies will draw the appropriate conclusions.

The president’s offer reinforces lessons that the Kremlin has already learned too well. In the past decade, Russia has repeatedly blocked and threatened to block gas supplies to the West, often in the middle of winter. It has pressured Kyrgyzstan into closing a U.S. base vital to supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan, irradiated the streets of London, fomented rebellion in neighboring countries, and invaded a democratic neighbor. Russia’s thuggish behavior has met only success and mumbled outrage. If the Kremlin has not accepted President Obama’s opening offer, it is because Medvedev and Putin think they can extort a better one.

There could be no worse time to show Russia that the U.S. will reward bad behavior. First of all, it is unclear what Russia can do to stop Iran’s nuclear program at this point, even if it wants to. Worse, the U.S. has already become vulnerable to the Kremlin’s favorite hardball tactic. Putin and Medvedev have used Russia’s control over the flow of energy to Western Europe to great effect, and now, having choked off U.S. supply routes to Afghanistan through Kyrgyzstan, Russia controls a pipeline of a different sort: On the same day that news of Obama’s secret overture leaked, the first shipment of supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan passed through Russia.

The Obama administration’s show of weakness will encourage Russia to treat the U.S. as it does Europe. Threats to U.S. supply lines will be used to extort all manner of concessions. Will the United States be pressured to mute its criticism of Russia’s human-rights abuses and the Kremlin’s links to organized crime? To recognize Russia’s extravagant claims in the Arctic? To exclude Georgia and Ukraine from NATO? To abandon Georgia if Russia launches another offensive? Where will the Obama administration draw the line?

The irony is that the United States is not in nearly as weak a position as President Obama’s letter might suggest. There are many ways by which the U.S. could more responsibly induce Russia to stop sponsoring Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration could, for example, practice some of the “smart diplomacy” that it promised during the last election. Russia’s tightly interconnected political and business elite have vast wealth and extensive interests in Western countries. The U.S. and allied governments could unravel the complex schemes used by cronies of Putin and Medvedev to launder and stash vast sums of money abroad. This would provide excellent opportunities to both punish and reward Russian behavior through the use of “soft power.” The U.S. could also announce that the growing Iranian nuclear threat may require further expansion of U.S. anti-missile defenses, leaving the ball in Russia’s court.

Time is running out for such steps. If the Obama administration does not adopt a firmer tone, not only Russia, but also Iran, will quickly learn to discount U.S. resolve.

9 responses to “Exposing Obama’s Benighted and Dangerous Russia Policy

  1. The only bad people in this world that Obama and Michelle Obama see are Americans. That’s why they send our diplomats on Apologize for America tour.

    In his naivety, Obama sends a childish quid pro quo letter to the Russian duopoly and he gets a proper press whipping. Who does Obama think he is Kennedy?

    Kennedy’s quid pro quo letter benefited from a friendly press and an unpopular Russian leader, who was looking for a way out of the crisis.

    These are different times, Mr. George Soros Puppet.

    Hillary goes over and says, hey, the problems we had over the last eight years were George Bush’s fault. Let’s reset relations to a more friendlier time, like Clinton Yeltsin. Brezhnev Nixon.

    What does Putin do? Does he acquiesce like Neville Chamberlain. No. He decides to build bomber bases in Cuba and Venezuela. What countries in the Carribean or near the Carribean that threatens Russia, which is 6 thousand miles away?

    Boliva? No. Brazil? Columbia? No. Honduras? No. Mexico? Cananda? No. US. Bingo. This move is in retaliation for US interest in Ukraine and Georgia.

    Here is a situation where America extends out an olive branch of peace, in this case a reset button, incorrectly translated as overcharged, and the Russians react with a bellicose response.

    How will Obama and Biden respond?

    Stay tuned to find out. I hope Obama and Biden knows how to spell Allies. Obviously, they’ve misspelled it so far.

  2. Don’t knock Soros too much. If any liberal is a hawk on Putinism, it is George Soros. If you don’t believe me, consider why it is that Putin has such a big problem with NGO’s. In fact, whenever a Russophile complains about American money propping up the Rose and Orange Revolutions, he’s really talking about Soros money – which is one of the reasons that the whole “American Puppet State – Bush Lackey” theory falls apart at the seams when you take a closer look at it. Saakashvili and Yuschenko are actually feeding from the same trough as the MoveOn.org types. It was probably Soros and Gang who got the Democrats on message in the Georgian War and kept the tanks from moving on Tblisi (Putin was foolishly counting on continued waffling on Obama’s part, which only lasted until about day 3.) For proof, the next time you speak with a Russophile on the 5-Day War, casually introduce the HRW report into the conversation and then sit back and watch as the anti-Soros invective flies.

    When it comes to the former USSR – Soros is a hero in my book.

  3. George Soros is a megomanic. The only reason he wants to support countries like Georgia and Ukraine is because he want to run them. I have a real problem with your hero for that reason alone. Georgians should run Georgia and the Ukrainians should run Ukraine.

    Soros also still has a bitter taste in his mouth for the Russian government. Yeltsin and then Putin made Soros persona non grata because Soros kept meddling in Russian politics. Soros wanted to run the country.

    Then by a stroke of luck, Soros is now running US through his surrogate Obama. He does not need Russia any more. Supporting Ukraine and Georgia keeps Russia in check, so that he can concentrate on turning America into a socialist country.

  4. Admittedly, Soros does have a huge ego problem. This WAS a guy who tried to crash the pound for no better reason than he wanted to see if he could do it. But he also has a very concrete set of principles based on several ideas – his own dark experiences in Nazi-dominated Hungary, the philosophy of Karl Popper, and his business experiences, which, for all his quasi-socialism, has resulted in him becoming very, very rich, so he must have some good ideas in there somewhere.

    And, for whatever reason we may assign, the fact remains that Soros was right about “Good Soul” Putin when Bush was so very wrong. I just wish Obama would show some chutzpah and appoint Soros Ambassador in Moscow. Now THAT would send a message. Just to see the look on Vlad’s face would make the next four years worthwhile.

  5. scott,

    while I think we will disagree on most domestic issues (I think, your comment about Putin=Cheney was dead wrong; and I am sure you will find my views on stimulus package equally despicable) – your points on Soros are well taken.

    Now, let’s imagine for a moment that Obama is Soros’s puppet. All the things that Clinton does (and that LR praises) are from Soros’s book; and all the domestic economic changes (disastrous, if you ask me; probably welcome in your mind) – are equally Soros-driven.

    Look, I am not questioning the man’s motives. He may be egomaniac, or he may indeed have twisted combination of old-style social-democrat (which 50 years ago were anti-communist) views. I know that he poured millions into Eastern Europe and Baltic countries, helped the build democratic institutions (free press, independent judiciary) – and no, he is not ruling any of those countries.

    If my speculations have some merit – it’s not up to Obama’s chutzpah. If Soros wants the ambassadorship – he will get it!

  6. Actually I maintain a pretty strong skepticism on Obama’s economics. If you’re trillions in debt, spending a trillion more is NOT a good idea.

  7. I wouldn’t trust George Soros in a toilet with a spoon. The guy made his money speculating on currencies, and get’s a kick out of ruining financial systems, Thailand’s Baht for example. Maybe he’s done SOME good, but to me he’s more villain than hero. I would be interested to know his dealings on the financial meltdown, how much influence did he have on encouraging 40:1 leveraging by banks, etc. Anyone sponsoring the shameless activities of MOVEON.ORG is no friend of mine.

    Scott:
    If your a Soros puppet like Obama, how better to ruin the dollar and bring the US down (which is Soro’s desire) than to print and spend money like there’s no tomorrow. Inflation will hit us hard in a few years, the 70’s and early 80’s inflation will seem like child’s play compared to what’s coming.

  8. Obamayomama:

    If Soros is a Hate-America-Firster, he is a very strange one indeed. Most HAF’s will stand behind any statement or action by any jackbooted thug as long as he isn’t considered a close friend of America (in other words, if he isn’t running either Israel or, now, Georgia), no matter how ridiculous. Soros, on the other hand, has spent millions of his own money for the express purpose of being a royal pain in the you know what to the very jackbooted thug to whom this site is dedicated to expose and oppose (by which, of course I mean Putin.) When it comes to the former USSR, I much rather that Obama listens to Soros, who harbors no illusions about Russia, rather than most of the people he has around him.Can you imagine what Bill Ayers’ advice about Putin might be, for example?

    As for economics, I am inclined to agree with you. Although I think that Soros’s problem is with Bush, and not with America, he does come with a strong endorsement of that heady admixture of Keynesianism and Socialism that has proved such a disaster to those nations in the past who have tried it. It didn’t work for us in the 30’s and I don’t see it working for us this time either. Hyperinflation is probably not a bad assessment for what is coming, but we can always hope for the best and fight to head off the worst of it.

  9. Scott,
    Maybe my comment about the toilet in a spoon was a bit crass. But Soros has stated that he would like to see the U.S. leadership roll in the free world rolled back. And the methods he has employed I find contemptible. His funding of extremist left wing organizations such as MOVEON.ORG shows (to me) that he means the U.S. no good. His efforts have helped to pull the democratic party way to the left, and their policies are anti-American in every sense. Weaken the economy by discouraging business through taxation, regulations, litigation, etc. Weaken the military and give the benefit of the doubt to every tin-pot dictator in the world. We’ve seen what these policies have accomplished in the past. And lastly, the lefts war on morals by denigrating the institutions of faith and marriage and the mocking of all who practice what used to be considered a ‘normal life’. Glad to hear he sticks his finger in Putin’s eye once in a while, but for the most part, I’m wary of him and his influence. I could go on about the dangers I see coming with further left wing policies, like the extreme environmentalist movement, over zealous litigation etc, but I’ll put a cork in it for now :-)

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