The Treacherous Obama Administration Coddles Putin’s Russia

Jonathan Pearl, writing on the Huffington Post:

When Russia recently signed a deal to supply Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with nuclear reactors, the silence from Washington was deafening. The Obama administration was probably concerned that strong U.S. opposition to the deal could undermine cooperation with Moscow on several important fronts, and that it could give the adversarial President Chavez a propaganda windfall. These concerns are not without merit, but they are also not an excuse for inaction.

Over the past few years, Russia has shown that it may be more interested in making money than in controlling weapons proliferation.

Moscow delivered the fuel for Iran’s Bushehr reactor last August, two months after the United Nations Security Council passed a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear noncompliance and suspicions of possible nuclear military activities. Indeed, despite its increasing cooperation with the United States on tightening UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, Russia ultimately proved unwilling to use Bushehr as leverage for bringing Iran into line with Security Council demands.

Now President Dmitri Medvedev has decided to build two large reactors, and a smaller research reactor, for President Chavez.

It is understandable for Moscow to engage in the lucrative nuclear power business. But it is also understandable for Washington and its allies to judge states, like people, by the friends they keep.

President Chavez’s regime in Venezuela, after all, actively seeks to undermine US interests at every possible opportunity — a goal he shares with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet since 2005, Russia has sold approximately $4 billion in military hardware to the increasingly autocratic and unpredictable Chavez.

More importantly, a recent report indicates that Caracas may be willing to help Tehran acquire uranium that could eventually be fed into centrifuges to produce weapons-grade material. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is at the heart of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concerns and Tehran continues to reject UN Security Council demands to halt its enrichment activities.

This cooperation could one day flow in both directions, for example, with Tehran repaying Chavez by sharing centrifuge designs or other sensitive nuclear technologies. Such an outcome is not far-fetched. Many nuclear states’ weapons programs have been greatly aided through such transfers.

To be sure, President Medvedev has worked with Washington to further some important mutual goals, including by signing a follow-on agreement to the expired Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Russia’s President has also canceled a long-planned sale of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran that had produced consternation in Washington and Tel Aviv because of their ability to severely limit military options against Tehran. Increased Russian cooperation with NATO may also be on the horizon.

But economic motives may play a role in some of these decisions too. Nuclear force reductions are, after all, in Moscow’s economic interest. And Russia may already have a new customer for its S-300 missiles in President Chavez.

Why then has State Department spokesman PJ Crowley asserted that the administration has “confidence” in Russian nuclear export decisions, and why has President Obama asserted Venezuela’s right to civilian nuclear power?

Three explanations come to mind.

First, the administration might fear that full-throated opposition could undermine cooperative bilateral efforts with Moscow on arms control and, potentially, missile defense. It might also harbor concerns of risking hard-fought gains in Russian cooperation on Security Council sanctions against Iran — a much more pressing concern given that Venezuela is still many years from an active nuclear program.

Finally, President Obama likely seeks to avoid giving Chavez additional fodder for his anti-American propaganda. Even the President’s mild suggestion that “Venezuela needs to act responsibly” as it pursues nuclear energy has prompted Chavez to counter that “Obama has started a war by spreading doubt” about Venezuela’s program.

While the administration is wise to be wary of such obvious risks, its talented team of diplomats and nuclear experts must not succumb to inaction. The stakes involved are too high.

A good first step might be for the Obama administration to privately urge Russia to make construction of nuclear plants in Venezuela contingent upon Caracas signing an Additional Protocol agreement with the IAEA. This agreement would grant Agency inspectors broad latitude to investigate Venezuelan nuclear activities and, thus, provide an important buffer against diversion of civilian nuclear material for military purposes.

Washington’s behind-the-scenes push could be accompanied by a public effort to emphasize the Iran-Venezuela connection, particularly in the context of U.S., EU, and UN Security Council sanctions. If the Obama administration is able to frame the debate in this way through deft public diplomacy, it would raise the political stakes and give greater currency to its entreaties to Moscow.

Simply put, the United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines in a world where states have often pursued nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian programs, least of all when it comes to Venezuela and its friends in Tehran.

26 responses to “The Treacherous Obama Administration Coddles Putin’s Russia

  1. Mr. Obama,
    When you go on your planned $200-million dollar jount to India, this month of November, with your 40 jet planes and your 500 plus ‘advisors’, your precious teleprompter under your arm, PLEASE do not return.
    Just go into permanent exile, and mail us, the American people, your resignation message.
    RESIGN! Obama, RESIGN! Ask your mentor Castro or your pal Putin, for a cottage in a nice sunny location.

    • Fully support.

      RESIGN, mr. Obama.

      Another Bush is exactly what the USia deserves.

      LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

      Sure! It stands to reason that if a the US president capitulates to the Kremlin, Americans must love and adore him. Obama for life!! Just like Putin!!

  2. At least we in America have an orderly and peaceful mechanism to pressure or force a bad president to resign.
    We can actually cause him to be (peacefully) removed, and not by the gun.
    Is this possible in neo-soviet Russia?
    So, once again, to try and compare our complicated American political system (good points and flaws), with what exists in present Russia, is foolish. There just is virtually no comparison, good or bad by anyone’s view. A main difference is that in America, THE PEOPLE actually DO have a say in the running of our government. And, by the way, many Americans MISS our last President Bush, and say that he would be far better than what we have now. But personally, I think that he was too weak in dealing with the Kremlin gang. Most Americans don’t want our country to go left towards some form of dictatorial Marxism, as Obama and his Demo party want. And most Americans, don’t like or trust neo-soviet Russia, as we see it is STILL not our friend, and that it continues the cold war, and continues to arm our enemies around the world, no matter what we do or say. Marxism didn’t work too well in Russia, as I seem to remember. And still, you over there have not freed yourselves from it’s hangover ruinous regime, nor can you, without another major bloody revolution. Can, ‘the people of Russia’, actually remove V. Putin by your political process? We all know the answer to that, don’t we.
    Our present American political move towards ‘the conservative right’ will not be pleasing to the Kremling gang, not at all.

    • @At least we in America have an orderly and peaceful mechanism to pressure or force a bad president to resign.

      Er, and what should Iraqis do to stay alive? Email Americans and ask them to choose another pres?

      @We can actually cause him to be (peacefully) removed, and not by the gun.

      No, I mean, hey, Putin is still the president of Russia.

      And then, he has many sons which are going to rule the country sooner or later. After all, there’s so few smart people in Russia we have to choose president from the same family twice. Or three times, who knows?

  3. Oh my! Poor Dmitry,
    “After all, there’s so few smart people in Russia we have to choose (our) president from the same family twice, OR three times, who knows?”
    YOU said it, not me! (are you on the happy juice?, the clear kind in the bottles labeled, ‘Vodka’)-?
    But, I disagree. There are many many ‘smart people’ in Russia. Most Russians are intelligent human beings. The ones who are able to excape to some better country where they and their children have a better future, do run away. And, then there are the majority, who have no choice but to grin and bear it, as they have no money to relocate, they have NO say at all in the running of their country, and also they keep quiet, as to do otherwise, puts them and their families in danger.
    Remember a little sarcastic Russian humour from the good old-soviet days:
    “Adam and Eve were The First Communists!, because…..they had to live in a garden without a roof over their heads, they were naked and they had no clothes to wear, they had only apples to eat, …and…they THOUGHT!..they were in Paradise!”
    Your dear President for Life (with his heirs-?), Vladimir Vladimirovich Putinsky, at the rate he and his KGB gangster pals are going, may yet take away even the garden, the apples, and even the fantasy of Paradise.

    • Activists shouted “Russia for the Russians,” and carried banners calling for “White Power” and “Orthodox Faith or Death” in a march held with official permission in a suburb in the south of the capital to mark the Day of People’s Unity holiday.

      Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/88738/#ixzz14NCKcEDo

    • Me: After all, there’s so few smart people in Russia we have to choose (our) president from the same family twice, OR three times, who knows?”

      Psalo: YOU said it, not me! (are you on the happy juice?, the clear kind in the bottles labeled, ‘Vodka’)-?

      Psalo, you’re truly a best example of these Russophobes.

      You even don’t know what “irony” means. You also fail to notice the US was the only country outside of the third world where president’s son was elected new president 8 years after his father left the, er, Oval office. And where a third member of the same family is seriously considered as a candidate for the next elections.

      • While this blog is not supposed to be a forum on American domestic politics, I guess you imply that Bush the younger was elected somehow unlawfully? Is that what you are saying? If yes, please prove it.

        Or do you think because his father was a president, he is disqualified or tainted? Why? We had one more father-and-son situation like that before with the Adamses and a grandfather-and-grandson situation with the Harrisons, and there was no real opposition to that. The U.S. Constitution does not qualify family members from running for political offices and why should it be otherwise?

        I am not supporter of Bush or his party and never voted for him. But he was elected fair and square. He turned out an extremely unpopular president, particularly in his second term and the public had reacted accordingly

        • @I guess you imply that Bush the younger was elected somehow unlawfully?

          No, why? I just imply that two of the nation’s most talented men were born in one family.

          Like, you know, “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”:)

          @with the Adamses

          Glad to see the US electoral system has not changed since Napoleon times.

          • I still don’t understand what’s wrong with having both a father and his son to be presidents. Please explain.

            Yes, we prefer to have stable laws.

            Your beloved Russia changes its “laws” every time a new warlord becomes a dictator, to accommodate his whims. And it case the new dictator still does not like how these laws work, he simply ignores them. A great legal system based on the great culture

            • RV, nothing’s wrong with son suceeding his father as president. Say, in Azerbayjan they always do it like this. Though I’ve never heard of things like this in Europe, but in some Asian states and sub-saharan Africa that’s quite normal. Glad to see in US people also find this normal. That’s all about one family really being the most talented in the country, right?

              • Dtard, Bush Senior was replaced by Bill Clinton who was elected to the office of President for two terms.

                Then Bush Junior was elected for two terms, to be replaced by Obama who narrowly defeated John McCain at the polls.

                There is nothing wrong with the son or daughter of a previous President being democratically elected to a position.

                There is however a problem with the Russian system of appointing a successor in rigged elections.

                • Exactly, Bushes were very democratically elected. All four times.

                  It just happened so – two most talented americans were born in one family. Coincidence, right?

                  BTW, how many sons has Saakashvili got?

      • To Dmitry, a Russo-phile (?)
        Yes I do know what irony is, but your words do not seem to fit that label.
        Obviously, you do not know much truthful, about America or our politics, for you to say some of what you say here, in humour or otherwise, and that is not ‘irony’ but plain ignorance, or is it simply you acting as a Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece-? (How much do they pay you for posting here?)
        This blog, as far as I can see, is dedicated to exposing the truth about current neo-soviet Russia, and is NOT some mindless attack forum for any and all who, ‘hate Russia’. Though, the whole world has plenty of solid reasons to HATE Russia!
        And, by the way, even the official title for this forum is about, FEARING (the ‘phobia’) of Russia, not…hating it.
        And comrade, don’t a whole lot of people all around the world, of many nationalities, have plenty of solid, history-based reasons, for fearing Russia?
        Your Russian-Communist history, does not inspire confidence or love in the rest of the world.
        But, perhaps I am being ironical?

        • Psalo, you failed to understand that you were the only modern country where son inherits presidency from his father. And where next Bush may become a third president from the same family (definitely, the most talented among all US families).

          That’s why I say you totally lack understanding of irony. No need to make any further comments.

          • What do you mean “inherits presidency?” G.W. Bush did not inherit anything, his father was alive then and is still alive. One cannot inherit anything from a living relative, read the dictionary.

            As I said before, G.W. Bush was lawfully elected. If by using the word “inherit” you are trying to say that he became President in an unlawful or improper way, explain and prove it

  4. What we haven’t done is chosen not to move forward in the areas of common interest with Russia until this very difficult issue is finally resolved. We don’t think that would be in our interest, it wouldn’t be in Russia’s interest, and I would add, we don’t think it would be in Georgia’s interest, to say that we refuse to deal with Russia, we refuse to look for common ground, we refuse to strike any agreement in any area, until the difficult issue over Georgia is resolved. We don’t believe that would be a successful approach or in anybody’s interest.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_Top_US_Diplomat_Discusses_Regional_Developments_Abuses_Stalemates_And_Cooperation/2211838.html

    PS Obama’s “PC police” are worried about russia’s interests?

    • Well, Les, I generally agree with you.
      However, America needs to be tough with the current neo-soviet gangster government, not only because of it’s threats to Georgia or Ukraine, or whatever other specific allied to us, countries that are in it’s (former?) ‘sphere of interest’, including it’s continued enslavement and ruination of the Russian people and nation & it’s on-going suppression of human freedoms and God-given liberties, in the Russian Homeland.
      America needs to stand up against the Kremlin gang, because it is a threat to America, and militarily, is not the only reason, but it is a major concern which our federal government should be VERY concerned about.
      But at this moment, we have an anti-American, pro-Marxist head of state, who seems very very eager to humiliate and bow down our country down to the Kremlin gang, and indeed to every leftist goverenment in the world, including to our Islamic-extremist foes (who want to 100% ‘convert’, or totally conquer, or exterminate violently, ALL infidel nations, us among the chief ones, and other religions than their own…..and all this being, the centuries old ENTIRE bloody history of the religion that Muhammed invented back in the 500’s AD. Islam has never ceased persecuting and oppressing and murdering off, any Jews, Christians, or Hindus, or Buddhists, and each other, or ANYONE who would not ‘submit’ to their tyrannical and totally totally totally intolerant, ‘beautiful and peaceful’ Moslem religion).
      America needs to return to it’s true conservative roots and to be busy with it’s own SELF-preservation, and then…..we can stand firmly against ALL our enemies, Putin’s neo-soviet Russia, and…world Islam.
      Just my thoughts……

      • Spare Change Leads to Three Years in Russian Prison

        The Kravtsov family sits helpless in their Boise home. Their son Eugene, 26, sits equally helpless in a Russian prison.

        “My dad says it looks like a shady story,” said his brother, Pavel.

        Shady indeed.

        The Kravtsov family moved from Ukraine to Boise in 2000. They all gained U.S. citizenship. Eugene graduated from BSU and went on to work at Micron. To say the Kravtsovs lived the American dream would not be hyperbole.

        This summer, Eugene planned a trip back to the Motherland to see family in Russia and Ukraine. For Eugene, the problems started at the border between those two countries. Border guards suggested his passport was a fake. His family says as many as 10 interrogators grilled him for hours.

        The family’s lawyer, the prosecution, the U.S. embassy counsel and a detective then held a meeting. They offered Eugene a deal: Plead guilty and we’ll let you go. Eugene had been in jail for three months and the Russians said he had done the time.

        Eugene agreed. He went to court. And he plead guilty. His family says the judge looked at him and said: “three years.”

        http://www.kivitv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13458017

        PS Does Obama even care about the interests of American Citizens?

        • There is nothing Obama or any U.S. President can do in a situation like this, other than to raise the issue via diplomatic channels. State Department will definitely do this, they always do regardless of what party is in power. The U.S. will not go to war over this and never did when an American was imprisoned abroad, justly or unjustly.

          There were a number of incidents like this, in N. Korea, Iran, etc. The only conclusion is, when you go to visit a third world country or a country having a dictatorship (Russia of course qualifies as both), you do it at your own risk. U.S. Passport will not protect you.

          What a sad reality for Mr. Kravtsov and his family.

          • RV, he was involved in contraband. What term do you get for smuggling antique coins into US?

            P.S. @ Prosecutors… The Kravstovs say they have been offered bribes – by whom? By Russian government, interested in locking one American smuggler? By fellow smugglers? Why don’t you pay attention to these details in the article?

  5. Manfred Steifschwanz

    Psychosick proudly told us:

    >> America needs to return to it’s true conservative roots and to be busy with it’s own SELF-preservation, and then…..we can stand firmly against ALL our enemies, Putin’s neo-soviet Russia, and…world Islam. >>

    Firstly, in case you’re a Yank, you SHOULD know that the notation “it’s” actually means “it is”, as opposed to the possessive pronoun of “its”, which is written without the apostrophe. But I’ll happily admit this doesn’t appreciably degrade your imbecilic Amurrrkan tripe. It only makes you look a little cuter, actually.

    Secondly, what makes you look cuter still is your home-spun enumeration of Yankistan’s enemies: “ALL our enemies, Putin’s neo-soviet Russia, and…world Islam”. Well, in case you’re a Yank, you may actually be pardoned for not knowing about the difference between “ALL” and “BOTH”, the latter being appropriate for the above quote, which postulates a total of 2 enemies — exactly and explicitly so.

    Thirdly, what does a psychotic Yank actually expect that the feverishly yearned for Day of Ever-Lasting Glory on Planet Earth will entail? Instant ascension to Global Stardom for each and every rabid, boot-licking Yank? Believe me, honey: Putin and Bin Laden are, in fact, moderate Anti-Americans, even if your USian National Socialist Government and ditto Corporate Media won’t tell you. You have a MUCH bigger problem with the vast majority of Homo Sapiens.

  6. Chavez cannot have a nuclear reactor for the same reason that an ordinary citizen cannot have a battleship. There is no money (aside from lack of skills).

    Running off at the mouth is easy. Doing difficult things is something else. Even in Iran no one will hit the “on button” in a nuclear plant because someone infected a million Iranian computers with the the “stuxnet” virus. If you hear a loud bang from Iran it is because some idiot hit the “On button”.

    • Manfred Steifschwanz

      As usual, Western propaganda and its faithful believers are totally bonkers. Proudly boasting of invincibility and scorn of the West’s adversaries, be it Russia or Third World nationalists, in combination with hysterical outbursts about mortal enemies encroaching on Western society, be it Russia or Third World nationalists. One can only agree with Ron’s judgement: Running off at the mouth is easy. Same goes for the computer keyboard.

    • Ron, nuclear energy is not a priviledge US grants.

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