Obama isn’t listening to such facts, of course, but Romney is, and he should make sure American voters are doing so as well. Instead of standing up for American values where Russia is concerned — in the manner of Ronald Reagan (who defeated one-term incumbent Jimmy Carter) — Obama is acting like Neville Chamberlain.
Obama is, just for instance, aggressively seeking to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment’s demand that Russia act like a civilized state before being treated like one. He doesn’t know history, so he likely doesn’t know Natan Sharansky warned: “You can only talk with the Kremlin in the language of sanctions.” A Russian blogger wrote of Jackson-Vanik:
As long as it is not repealed, it hangs like Damocles’ sword over the heads of the crooks in power, since the moratorium might be lifted at any moment if the human rights situation in Russia gets worse.
In contrast, once it is repealed Putin can proclaim to the world that his government has been officially vindicated by the West. This will give him all the cover he needs to pursue a vicious crackdown, already well underway, as he consolidates his position as president for life.
Obama’s claims about trying to support American business by repealing Jackson-Vanik so as to promote market access in Russia are pure fabrications. Russia has had a waiver from Jackson-Vanik every year Obama has been president, and every year our trade deficit with Russia has become larger. Romney should call Obama out on this lie: Obama wants to repeal it simply to make the Kremlin happy. His “plan” for Russia: give the Kremlin whatever it wants and hope that Russia, out of the goodness of its heart, will not stand in the way if Iran goes postal. This type of “plan” didn’t work with Hitler, it didn’t work with Stalin, and it won’t work with Putin.
But Obama doesn’t care what happens to Russian civil society, nor does he care what happens to Syrian women and children butchered by Russian weapons and diplomatic cover. All Obama cares about is pretending before American voters that he has made Russia into a reliable friend, just long enough to get himself reelected. As Obama told Medvedev: once he is back in office he can do whatever he likes, with nothing more to lose.
Just look into the faces of the Kremlin’s “little girl soldiers.” Romney should challenge U.S. voters, and ask us if this is a country Obama should be pursuing a partnership with, a nation with whose leader he should be whispering in corners.
Obama is right that nothing will get better where Russia is concerned until the next U.S. presidential election is over. Romney should make sure American voters understand why.