From Tymoshenko in Kiev to Khodorkovsky in Chita, a new iron curtain has descended across the continent.
Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner finally confronted President Barack Obama regarding his failed “reset” policy in Russia. He pointed out that despite Obama’s plans and promises, Russia is standing with Iran, not us, in the confrontation over revelations about Iran’s nuclear program. The news came even as the world learned that a Russian scientist had been helping Iran to develop those lethal nukes, and that Russia intended to bestow even more nuclear technology on Ahmadinejad and his fanatical regime.
Though Obama doesn’t seem to notice, Russia’s Iran policy is a declaration of a new cold war, and nobody should be surprised. Two books from seasoned Russia correspondents warned us long ago that this would happen. It’s a cold war that, with nukes in the hands of Ahmadinejad, could get pretty hot, pretty fast.
It remains to be seen whether Boehner and his colleagues in the Senate, who have begun to aggressively raise issues of human rights and democracy, will translate this tough talk into policy action. The first, best thing Boehner and his colleagues can do would be to block the nomination of Michael McFaul as the next ambassador to Russia.
McFaul, as much as anyone, is responsible for the failed conception and execution of the now-infamous Obama “reset” policy, and to reward him with a cushy job in Moscow would be a travesty. McFaul’s dishonesty and duplicity when testifying before Congress in support of his confirmation should make even Obama’s strongest supporters blanch.
Another option would be to block more of the criminals who now populate the Kremlin from stepping through the golden door, as a bipartisan pair of senators have demanded. Or Congress could insist that the administration begin providing real, tangible support to opposition leaders on the ground in Russia: leaders like Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Oleg Kozlovsky, and Roman Dobrokhotov.
But whether they’ll actually do anything at all remains anybody’s guess.
If you want to know how bad things are behind the new iron curtain that Obama has mightily helped to raise, just listen to Yevgenia Carr, the daughter of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko, begging for her mother’s life. Tymosheko has been railroaded into prison by the new pro-Russia ruler of Ukraine, a proud former KGB spy just like Vladimir Putin. Listening to her, one must question Obama’s patriotism — if not his sanity — in helping legitimize the Putin dictatorship.
But there are many other voices to be heeded.