Tag Archives: david satter

Satter on Obama

IA-Forum: What do you think of Obama’s attempt to collaborate with the Russian leadership on common interests while still criticizing Russia’s problems with human rights, rule of law, etc.? Was Obama effective on both fronts?

David Satter: It was very mild criticism. It was the gentlest of hints, and there is no reason for that. There was no mention of specific cases. If you’re not going to mention specific cases, you create the impression that you’re not mentioning them because you don’t have the will to mention them. If you don’t have the will to mention them, you may not have the will to stand up to them in other respects. Even in his discussions with the opposition, [Obama] was rather measured and didn’t mention specific cases. Once you restrict yourself to generalities, you greatly reduce the impact of what you’re saying. So I think he was too conciliatory. But we’ll see.

International Affairs Forum interviews Russia scholar David Satter of the Hudson Institute, author of Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State, on Obama’s performance in Moscow:

International Affairs Forum: You were in Russia during President Obama’s recent trip to Moscow. What were your impressions of his highly-anticipated visit? How do people in Russia perceive the U.S.-Russian relationship right now?

Mr. Satter: Well, I think that Russians believe—in part because they’ve been told—that the U.S. has ignored Russia’s interests and it is therefore up to the U.S. to do something about it. In fact, all of the talk about resetting relations plays into this because it seems as if we actually agree with this interpretation. After all, why would we need to reset the relationship if we haven’t done anything wrong? So I think that there’s a sense in Moscow and in the rest of Russia that the United States is acknowledging the validity of the Russian interpretation of events.

Otherwise, my general impression was that—and this is based only on what was public, of course I don’t have access to what was private—the U.S. went too far, really, in showing a willingness to compromise. In general, being willing to compromise is probably a good thing, but the demands that the Russians have made and the positions that they are advancing are not reasonable. There’s no reason why we should encourage them to make unreasonable demands, nor is there any reason why we should give the impression that we are ready to think about those demands.

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Putin is Responsible, Part V: How to stop him

Russia expert David Satter of the Hudson Institute, writing in Forbes magazine, gives us a simple battle plan for standing up to the dangers of Putinism in Russia, the perfect cap on today’s series exploding the myth that Putin is good for Russia:

One of the most serious challenges facing Barack Obama will be finding a way to keep an aggressive Russia under control.

Internal developments in Russia are extremely worrying. The Russian economy is beginning to unravel under the impact of collapsing oil prices, and changes to the Russian Constitution are planned that will probably return Vladimir Putin to office and make him president for life. At the same time, Russia is threatening to target American anti-missile installations in Eastern Europe with short-range missiles and, more important, to interfere with them electronically, which is unquestionably the action of a hostile power.

Under these circumstances, President Obama, in dealing with Russia, must try to avoid traditional American mistakes. In most cases, the learning curve for an American president in relation to Russia takes up his entire term in office. Obama may not have that luxury. The following are some basic principles for dealing with Russia that can help to cut the learning period short.

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