Kasparov lets Obama have It
At last, a leader of the Russian opposition — Garry Kasparov, writing in the Wall Street Journal — has openly declared what everyone has known for months now, that U.S. President Barack Obama is coward and a traitor to the democratic cause.
The first meeting of the loftily named U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Civil Society Working Group took place in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27. Russian presidential first deputy Vladislav Surkov is the group’s co-chair—despite a letter of protest signed by 71 GOP members of the U.S. Congress pointing out that Mr. Surkov is “one of the masterminds behind Russia’s authoritarian course.” The letter urged President Obama (in vain, as it turned out) to boycott the meetings until Mr. Surkov was replaced, perhaps by someone who hasn’t spent his career actively destroying the sort of civil society this working group is intended to promote.
New York Times columnist David Brooks explains that Obama’s attempt to ignore the Republican party and ram a socialist agenda down the throats of the American public in the manner of an FDR or LBJ has come to nothing:
Obama is still admired personally, but every major proposal — from the stimulus to health care — is quite unpopular. Independent voters have swung against the administration. Voters are not reacting to the particulars of each bill. They are reacting against the total activist onslaught. A president can’t lead a social transformation without a visceral bond with the center of the electorate and without being in step with the rhythm of the times. Obama is lacking these things. As a result, the original Obama project, the third Democratic wave, is dead.
Just as Obama is out of touch with what Americans want in his domestic agenda, he has lost sight — if he ever had it — of basic American values in foreign policy. LBJ, for all his diabolical socialist ideology, was still willing to sacrifice his presidency to an all-out struggle against the Soviet menace in Vietnam.
And last, a member of the opposition — Kasparov, always Kasparov — has made this plain:
Mr. Obama’s speech in Russia last July raised expectations that his administration would look at the Kremlin’s record of brutality at home and transgressions abroad and attempt to ally itself with the beleaguered Russian people. He said, “governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not.” Instead of lines in the sand we have had words in the air, with dozens of these commissions established on the American president’s initiative, each more pathetic than the last. This one on civil society is simply insulting.
Obama has insulted the Russian opposition with his patronizing doubletalk, with an attitude that treats them as if they were foolish children easily buffaloed by his sophistication, with empty promises and dashed hopes. In do doing, he has contributed to the demise of democracy and human rights in Russia and to the growth of a new cold war.
Kasparov points out the awesome power that the U.S. economy wields over Russia, power that Obama is letting go utterly to waste: “Massive U.S. borrowing, and the false sense of liquidity it produces, is currently all that is supporting large swaths of the debt-ridden Russian economy by providing cheap credit to the overextended oligarchs.”
It is a modern American tragedy. The first black president has the chance to write an entirely new chapter in Russo-US relations, one that could change history. Instead, he’s part of the problem.