August 7, 2013

Obama's Russian Waffling

Obama apparently has evolved not just on gay marriage, but on Russia as well. In 2007 he felt it was necessary to seek a global ban on fissile material for weapons.  Since then he has done nothing to stop Iran. Evolved. In 2007 he said Russia is not an ally or enemy of the United States.  But in 2013 he thinks Russia is prone to Cold War thinking from time to time. That would make them I suppose, an occasional enemy.  In 2008 he wanted a missile defense system to protect from Iran, but not Russia necessarily. He was worried however about an aggressive Russia in 2008.  That didn't stop him from backing down on missile defense in 2012 when he thought he was not on microphone with Medvedev.  So Iran was not a nuclear threat and clearly the Russians were no longer aggressive in 2012. Evolved? And in 2013 Obama decided that there was no need to meet with Putin directly at the Group 20 economic summit upcoming. He's been put out by Russian non-co-operation. Evolved?
How about confused, naïve and all over the map?

In an October 2007 speech in Chicago, Obama said if elected he would work to "take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material." He said he would seek a "global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons" and an expansion of "the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles."


President Obama said in April 2007 that Russia is "neither our enemy nor close ally," and said the United States "shouldn't shy away from pushing for more democracy, transparency, and accountability" there.
In a September 2008 presidential debate, Obama said the United States needs missile defense, "because of Iran and North Korea and the potential for them to obtain or to launch nuclear weapons," but stressed the need to also increase spending on nuclear nonproliferation.


In a September 2008 presidential debate, Obama said, "our entire Russian approach has to be evaluated, because a resurgent and very aggressive Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region."
“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Mr. Obama could be heard saying to Mr. Medvedev, according a reporter from ABC News, who was traveling with the president.

“Yeah, I understand,” the departing Russian president said. “I understand your message about space. Space for you ... .”

Mr. Obama then elaborated in a portion of the exchange picked up by the cameras: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
In a rare diplomatic rebuke, President Barack Obama on Wednesday canceled his Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The decision reflected both U.S. anger over Russia's harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and growing frustration within the Obama administration over what it sees as Moscow's stubbornness on other key issues, including missile defense and human rights.

Obama will still attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but a top White House official said the president had no plans to hold one-on-one talks with Putin while there. Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.

Obama, who is traveling in California, said in an interview Tuesday that he was "disappointed" by Russia's move to grant Snowden asylum for one year. But he said the move also reflected the "underlying challenges" the U.S. faces in dealing with Moscow.

"There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality," Obama said in an interview on NBC's "The Tonight Show."
There are a lot of other examples of  Obama's inability to forecast events and motivations of others, as well as an inability to stick to a strategic imperative.  Clinton's reset button is a symbolic example of saying one thing without backing it up or understanding the context of their own statement.  Guess what Hillary, Russia had to hit that reset button with you and they were not inclined to do so. Détente requires two parties participating, not just one.  And as a result of all of these statements about diplomacy and resetting relations, without a guiding principle (except maybe capitulation), the administration looks like it is running from problem to problem in crisis-management mode trying to put out fires in a reactive, unthoughtful manner. It looks like waffling on Russia but it is far worse. It's an incapacity to lead.

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