“There have always been rumors because I have written about certain subjects that that is what I am coming to do here. That’s crazy. Just because you write about cancer doesn’t mean you advocate cancer. I’m a social scientist. I’ve written about democratization, but that’s my previous life.”
That was our new ambassador to Russia speaking to the New York Times about his first week in the country. It was an amazingly candid statement — Michael McFaul openly admitted that neither he nor his boss Barack Obama intend to stand up for American values in any way or form.
An American advocate democracy? That would be, in McFaul’s own words, “crazy.”
What McFaul and Obama intend to do instead is “execute and deepen and strengthen” the now-infamous Obama “reset” policy with Russia, a policy with which McFaul stated he has been “intimately involved every step of the way.” They will do this so they can try to claim some type of foreign policy success in connection with Obama’s reelection bid.
All in the open, all the time. Secrets only reinforce stereotypes. Cold war over long ago. Our time to do differently.
Cold War over? The Russians didn’t get that memo.
Simultaneously, they were threatening the United States with cold war (indeed, maybe even hot) on three different fronts: Syria, Iran, and space. Russia announced a major new sale of military aircraft to Syria, and warned the West that Russia would not tolerate any form of military intervention in either Syria or Iran. Then Russia blamed the United States for using its secret evil powers to down a major Russian space probe. Pravda read just like it was still being written by the Politburo.
It’s easy to see why Obama is so drawn to Russia. His willingness to simply lie about basic facts — and his belief that the American public is so clueless that he can get away with it — is truly neo-Soviet in nature. McFaul actually tweeted a photo of Obama about to call Dmitri Medvedev soon after taking office, as if the world wouldn’t remember how Medvedev’s “presidency” has been exposed as a Potemkin sham, and Obama as a naïve sucker who fell for Putin’s gambit.
McFaul has filled his Twitter feed, supposedly about Russia, with shameless propaganda about Obama’s “brilliant” staff and his economy that “works for everyone.” What he hasn’t seen fit to mention are issues like the exclusion of Russia’s leading mainstream opposition politician, Grigory Yavlinsky, from the March presidential ballot despite gathering over two million signatures in support of his candidacy. The Kremlin simply claimed a quarter of the signatures were bogus and tossed him out.
Nor has McFaul seen fit to mention any of the vicious, vitriolic anti-American hatred spewing from high-ranking Kremlin officials over Syria and Iran. Instead, in a particularly telling tweet, he asked Congress to unilaterally repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment that demands human rights concessions from Russia, just as Obama previously unilaterally withdrew the U.S. missile defense commitment to Eastern Europe.
He’s actually rewarding Russians for stating they wish to kill us.
As former Bush State Department official Paul Saunders explains, the “reset” is blowing up in Obama’s face. The Russians won’t even tolerate the propaganda smokescreen of empty rhetoric and meaningless gestures towards democracy that Obama needs to cover his tracks. When McFaul had a brief meeting with opposition leaders during his first week, state-controlled media exploded in vitriol.
Even if Russia wasn’t getting everything they wanted, they still wouldn’t actively support Obama’s agenda in the Middle East: it’s not in Russia’s interests to do so. Russia profits mightily in Syria and Iran both by selling weapons and by seeing the value of its oil reserves soar as commodity markets fret over the instability Russia foments in the region. What’s more — in case Obama and McFaul have forgotten — Russia is ruled by a proud KGB spy about to become “president for life” who spent his entire career learning how to hate and destroy the U.S. Helping the U.S. advance its foreign policy in the Middle East simply isn’t consistent with Putin’s worldview.
The Kremlin’s forces have been quite clear in warning the U.S. that it better not elect a Republican in November, lest it face global war, both hot and cold, from Russia. Former Kremlin insider Andranik Migranyan was particularly blunt about McFaul, accusing him of making a “costly mistake” in paying lip service to the opposition — slavish obedience is the only thing the Kremlin will tolerate:
[McFaul] now will have to devote effort to smoothing over his mistake, just as Obama did when he put forward some unpalatable claims about Prime Minister Putin before his first official visit to Moscow. Then he had to lavish upon the man plenty of compliments once he arrived to limit the damage caused by his clumsy behavior.
Make no mistake — Obama will do it. He is using McFaul’s reputation to camouflage a policy of appeasement. Meanwhile, the Kremlin will continue — with Obama’s assistance — to obliterate American values in Russia. Kremlin-funded propaganda network Russia Today trumpeted the words of nationalist parliamentarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky as he warned that any member of parliament who met with McFaul would be ostracized from the body. Putin is likewise snuffing out entrepreneurship in business, while Medvedev, with Obama’s blessing, feels free to repeatedly ignore the meeting of his own human rights panel.
Obama has brought America the perfect storm, the worst of all possible worlds. We are seen as betraying the friends of democracy and capitalism in Russia, as supporting the return of Soviet-style repression. We suffer the consequences of dealing with yet another dictatorship, rather than a democracy where we know the rules of the game. And at the same time, we haven’t seen any significant enhancement of Russian support for our foreign policy; to the contrary, we find ourselves openly threatened with war in the Middle East.
I guess I’m “crazy,” but to me it seems like the most essential regime change where Russia is concerned must happen in Washington, D.C.