EDITORIAL: Obama vs. Putin, Round 1


Obama vs. Putin, Round 1

We were heartened when U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to signal, in an interview with the Associated Press just before leaving for Moscow, an intention to seek to divide the Kremlin and thereby conquer it. If Obama follows through on this strategy, it will be a master stroke.

Obama told the AP last Thursday that Putin has “one foot in the old ways of doing business.”  He contrasted him with Medvedev, and said he decided to meet with Putin because the KGB spymaster “still has a lot of sway … and I think that it’s important that even as we move forward with President Medvedev that Putin understand that the old Cold War approaches to U.S.-Russian relations is outdated — that’s it’s time to move forward in a different direction.”

Wow, move forward in a different direction from Putin by pairing with Medvedev. Talk about spitting in Putin’s eye!

Obama continued:  “I think Medvedev understands that. I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new, and to the extent that we can provide him and the Russian people a clear sense that the U.S. is not seeking an antagonistic relationship but wants cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, fighting terrorism, energy issues, that we’ll end up having a stronger partner overall in this process.”

Obama’s Russia advisor Michael McFaul implied that the strategy may be even more hardcore:  Obama may try to split Medvedev from Putin and then to split the people of Russia from Medevev, with a direct appeal that could include reaching out to human rights groups and opposition political figures. He’s already given an interview to Novaya Gazeta.

It’s a brilliant way test the water and see if there is any chance Medvedev might be induced to break with Putin, creating chaos within the Kremlin.  If Medvedev holds firm, then we know where we stand and can act accordingly. It sends a clear message to the Kremlin that the U.S. will not accept KGB rule of Russia.

Of course, it all depends on whether Obama is prepared to act on the information he gets.  And that we shall see soon enough.

22 responses to “EDITORIAL: Obama vs. Putin, Round 1

  1. Obama ain’t a softie he’s just shifty. He said he was against the Iraq war and wanted to withdraw the US military from Iraq. On the contrary the US has established fortresses all across the country and will not leave the country. He gave a speech in Istanbul and Cairo, but Gaza is still blockaded and there is no Palestinian state in sight. He vetoed the torture photos, no prosecution for alleged torturers and CIA kidnappers. GITMO, is still open, military commissions and all. He says he wants to friends with Iran, yet the regime there is almost toppled by a Twitter-Colour revolution (de ja vu Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon ). He’s escalated the Afghan War, with a new offensive taking place today. People call Obama a socialist, but the overwhelming majority of his stimulus packages have gone to the banks, he’s willing to accept GM and Chrysler go bust but won’t accept AIG, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and others to accept their losses and go bust.

    As for the Missile Defence System, he won’t give that up, he may start new nuclear arms reduction agreements with Russia.

    Obama is a dissembler, he’s speeches and comment are always vague, people read into it what they want.

    With Obama its always best to watch what he does rather than believe what he says.

    He’s got Brzezinski as an advisor and a mentor, Obama won’t be a softie with the Russkies lol

  2. Reposting here my opinion of Obama that I posted in Robert Amsterdam’s blog:

    Oh, yes, Obama can ignore human rights issues in Russia. He has already thrown human rights under the bus in China when Hillary visited in February and made clear human rights wouldn’t be an issue in exchange for their continued goodwill in buying our debt. The Russians see the hypocrisy.


    More ominous is his naivete as AP reported today:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — On the eve of a trip to Moscow, President Barack Obama chided Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday for keeping “one foot in the old ways of doing business.” By contrast, he said Putin’s handpicked successor as president understands that Cold War behavior is outdated.

    He hasn’t figured out the real nature of the Putin-Medvedev “Good Cop-Bad Cop” charade. Reagan would have figured that out by now.


    Are you kidding, Warren, Obama is a suck up to every thug on the planet. Wrong on Iran, wrong on Honduras. He’s a lefty more comfortable with appeasing thug regimes than admonishing them. He’s “vague” because he is inept and it is far too early to rest on what he does. Plus Brzezinski was a pathetic Carter era loser.

    • Penny

      At least Obama hasn’t said he has looked into the Russian President’s eyes and seen his good soul like his predecessor. How tough was Dubya with Russia? Cheney made a few tough speeches in Vilnius May 2006, and after the Russia-Georgia War but nothing concrete ever came of it. With China W-Cheney were even more appeasing, after from the Spy plane incident in April 2001 and Echo Times reporter heckling the Hu Jintao at the WH in April 2006, the Bush years were the best ever in Sino-US relations. Dubya & Cheney were obsessed with conquering the Middle East, and allowed Russia & China to build up their forces.

  3. Penny

    I don’t understand your post, what has Obama done that Bush hasn’t? Bush and Cheney repeatedly threatened and insinuated about attacking Iran, in the end they did nothing. As for North Korea, Dubya capitulated to Pyongyang. The DPRK detonated a nuke in Oct 2006, why didn’t Dubya invade NK? They’ve got nukes Iraq hasn’t. Again the NK detonated nukes in May 2009, Obama has done nothing so far.

    As for Honduras, the President was overthrow in a military coup, your posts frequently champion Democracy, are you siding with the Junta? There is nothing left wing about Obama, his left-wing supporters the ones with brains are already disillusioned with him. Obama is more Wall Street than anyone else.

    As for admonishing evil regimes, is it the US’s job to dispense righteous condemnations to other countries after the past 8 years? No body will take you seriously.

    As for Brzezinski he is a Geopolitical legend! Witness the disastrous Soviet Afghan invasion, he gave the Soviets their Vietnam! Russians to this day hate , fear and respect Zbig!

  4. Warren, there is more to the situation in Honduras than you relate:


    The Russians gave themselves their Vietnam in Afghanistan, Americans had nothing to do with it.

  5. Warren, considering that the Army was ordered to remove the President by the Honduran Congress and the Constitutional court, it was most certainly not a military coup.

    Currently the leader of the Honduran Congress is acting as the caretaker president until elections are held in 7 months.

    Get your facts right.

    By the way, it was Reagans government that really tarted supplying the Afghan resistance with weapons.

  6. It sure was interesting seeing the reactions of both Bush and Putin to the events of the evening. If I remember correctly, it was the actual night of the opening ceremonies that the hostilities (between Georgia and Russia) commenced. Since that night I have had the feeling that V. Putin’s #1 goal in life is to destroy the USA. I believe that it has been reflected in the foreign policy of Russia since that time.

  7. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/troops-gather-on-georgian-border-1729636.html

    simply read this! War is only a couple of days away from us! Every night the russians are already firing the georgian border villages,it´s the preparation for a new invasion

  8. “Since that night I have had the feeling that V. Putin’s #1 goal in life is to destroy the USA. I believe that it has been reflected in the foreign policy of Russia since that time.”

    Same on my side I can tell you shane. Just let me modify your feeling a bit — So, I have got a feeling the USA’s goal #1 is to destroy Russia and it’s also very well reflected in the US foreign policy. The problem with Russia as Americans see it is the Russian capability to stop the USA in any corner of the world be that Cuba, Iran or Venezuela. The US as an a parasitic global Empire is hungry, hungry for blood and oil, pillage and murder and this is Russia which still remains a major obstacle to “world domination and Bush/Hitler new world order conspiracy. Add Obamaman to my list as just another public clown of the US corporate pirate state.

  9. Putin answered Obama’s words that Putin has ”one foot in the old ways of doing business” in his inimitable style: “We are not in the habit of standing with out feet splayed apart, we stand on our feet firmly and always look into the future.” :-)

    The Big Whorehouse On The Potomac, by Craig Roberts, the father of Reaganomics:


  10. Eugene:

    V Rossii, khotyeli kak mozhno luche, a poluchilos’ kak vsegda…

  11. Aren’t they on the same team?

  12. Back to the editorial: “Obama vs. Putin, Round 1”

    Not a question at all for an editorial.
    Putin is not a whimp and has been proving it since 1999. Obama is a freshman but if compared to the clinical, never seen before “Made in USA” idiot George W.Bush there some hope remains yet.

  13. MOSCOW, July 6 (Reuters) – The United States and Russia reached agreements on Monday on arms cuts and Afghanistan during talks between U.S. President Barack Obama and Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev.

    Below are details of the main agreements:


  14. It was a slam-dunk; the U.S. wants fewer nukes in unstable Russian hands, the for all his swagger, Putin can’t afford all the nukes he’s got. It was the one thing that both could agree on and get a photo op. I am very proud of Obama on this trip. He is fighting to defend a people who have no idea how to defend themselves, preferring instead to wallow in a nationalistic stupor.

  15. From Brezhnev to Medvedev

    06 July 2009
    By Yevgeny Kiselyov

    How does Russia define improved relations with the United States? Apparently, Moscow’s top priorities are to have Washington stop lecturing it about democracy, to stop interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, to recognize Russia as a superpower on equal standing with the United States and to acknowledge Russia’s “zone of privileged interests” with regard to the former Soviet republics — above all Ukraine and Georgia.


  16. Russia has little bargaining power in negotiations with Barack Obama
    The sight of Russia’s leader greeting his American counterpart in the glittering splendour of the Kremlin disguises a harsh reality.

    By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
    Published: 6:41PM BST 06 Jul 2009

    President Dmitry Medvedev might want this carefully staged occasion to resemble a Cold War summit, yet he is not meeting President Barack Obama as an equal to bargain over the future of the world.

    Instead, Mr Medvedev leads a gravely weakened Russia with few cards to play. In particular, he desperately needs a new treaty on nuclear disarmament for a simple reason: Russia’s arsenal is falling to bits anyway.

    While the Kremlin is believed to possess a total stockpile of about 10,000 nuclear warheads, more than 70 per cent are probably non-operational. Many of the deployed warheads are reaching the end of their life cycles and will soon have to be withdrawn from service.

    Even without a new disarmament treaty, Moscow’s operational nuclear arsenal is steadily diminishing. Today, Russia probably has some 2,700 deployed warheads, but this figure is set to fall dramatically in the next few years.

    One independent Russian military expert, Mikhail Barabanov, estimates that “if current tendencies continue, Russia will be unlikely to have the capacity to maintain more than 400-500 nuclear warheads by 2020”.

    The new treaty which Russia and America are likely to sign in December will probably set a new ceiling of between 1,500 and 1,700 warheads for each country. Mr Medvedev will hit those limits by sitting back and doing nothing.

    Thanks to the parlous state of his nuclear forces, a new disarmament treaty imposes no real disarmament on Russia at all.

    Instead, Mr Medvedev’s central objective is to disguise Russia’s weakness and lock America into reducing its own arsenal. Without a new treaty, Washington would open up a substantial nuclear lead.

    Fortunately for Mr Medvedev, Mr Obama seems willing to co-operate and agree a new disarmament accord. Unlike Russia, America would then have to take real steps to cut its own arsenal.

    The Pentagon presently has a total stockpile of about 5,200 nuclear weapons, of which some 2,700 are fully operational. And unlike Russia, America is perfectly capable of maintaining this arsenal.

    But Mr Obama appears to have decided on disarmament as a way of “resetting” America’s relations with Russia. In return for what amounts to a unilateral concession, Mr Obama will ask for Russia’s help on a range of international issues.

    In particular, he will want the Kremlin to help increase the pressure on Iran if, as seems likely, its leaders reject America’s recent overtures. But for all the pomp and circumstance, this summit is a sign of Russian weakness and any new disarmament treaty will, in effect, apply only to Washington.


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