Our relations with Russia have never been great. We’ve had periods “meh” and periods of direct confrontation, but we’ve never been “buddy buddy.” A lot of that has to do with our different measurements of what a nation of people should be and how our governments should be run. The Russian people have long had distaste for the upper class that has led them to eschew a “fair and free” approach toward all people, and they’ve run their government in a more “populist” “communal” way. All the while, a new elite has been inculcated and growing in Russian society — one could call them a political bourgeoisie.
When President Obama was elected, he and his new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, believed they were the right team to change the dynamic between the USA and Russia. They heralded a new age of friendship that would lead us to work together for the good of both of our peoples. With a flourish, Secretary Clinton unveiled the “reset button” that would symbolically proclaim our new era of camaraderie.
Now we realize that the joke was on us.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the world’s most powerful used car salesman, and he spotted President Obama as soon as he walked onto the lot. He recognized that for all of our President’s heavy-handed moralist rhetoric, that, as Clint Eastwood so famously pointed out, he is an empty chair. Many conservatives have rightly noted the similarities in President Obama and President Carter; Putin saw these similarities strikingly early – and he has used them to humiliate and deride us.
Exhibit A is President Obama’s inability to coerce the delivery of NSA leaker Edward Snowden from the Russian premier. President Obama has done everything short of getting on his knees to beg for the return of the divisive Snowden. Who knows? That may very well be next…
Like Carter, Obama is a weak kneed utopian. He is a painfully arrogant optimist who seems to lack the very basic understanding that evil exists, and it constantly seeks to provoke more evil. I would not generally characterize optimism as a bad thing — I think it is vital to see the good in all of life’s situations – but when a President sees only good because he refuses to acknowledge his enemy’s evil, he creates a massive blind spot which his nation cannot afford.
Victor Davis Hanson of the National Review Online sums this up perfectly.
“Putin — earlier than other leaders — grasped that the U.S. was back to a utopian Jimmy Carter mode. And so, not content in finding advantage, he also seeks fun in publicly humiliating the U.S. He was always an unapologetic Russian nationalist, stung by the loss of prestige after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but reenergized by huge oil revenues. His stock and trade has always been pointing out Western moral hypocrisies — from supporting cruel anti-democratic Islamists to distorting U.N. resolutions on no-fly zones and humanitarian aid in Libya. In that sense, he is the perfect antithesis to Obama. The sanctimonious Al-Arabiya interview, the Cairo Speech, and the missionary declarations on Libya all presupposed that Obama alone was sensitive to diverse cultures and had both the charisma and moxie to win over those who were previously alienated due to less-sophisticated American leaders.”
As long as President Obama continues to respond to world affairs instead of shaping them, he will continue to be harassed and humiliated by Putin and other world leaders. The United States is the most powerful country in the world, Mr. President, and by extension you are the most powerful leader – act like it.
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