Nobody seems to know for sure. But here’s what we do know: On Obama’s watch, a proud KGB spy named Vladimir Putin was successful in pulling the neo-Soviet wool over America’s eyes. He was able to pretend, with Obama’s active assistance, that he had stepped down from power, when in fact he was preparing the way for his return as “president for life” in the manner of a banana republic. And immediately upon returning, that spy has launched a furious legislative crackdown on American values and has pursued a foreign policy that has made it very clear he is America’s foe, not its partner. He has created a repressive society within Russia that has seen the rebirth of both defectors and political prisoners, where even McDonald’s comes under attack and Madonna is branded a “whore” by high-ranking Russian diplomats.
Chess champion Garry Kasparov was arrested on the spot and roughed up when he simply appeared and tried to attend the public trial of the Pussy Riot collective in Moscow. Putin calls Obama a “crude blackmailer,” even though Obama is doing all he can to help. Meanwhile, Putin is almost certainly lining his personal pockets to an obscene extent.
Kremlin apologists have always argued that the saving grace for Russia was the internet. They claimed that the Kremlin would never be able to launch a successful attack on the internet, and it would remain a key bulwark against Russia slipping backwards into the neo-Soviet mire.
But this is precisely what is happening in Putin’s Russia today. Putin has just launched a major new push against the internet, blocking websites he doesn’t like and charging his key internet opponent, Alexei Navalny, with corruption allegations that could send him to prison for a decade. What’s more, we’ve seen the nascent protest movement organized primarily through internet resources fizzle and die out, even as Putin has consolidated his malignant KGB regime.
And we know this: through it all, Barack Obama and Michael McFaul, his ambassador to Russia, have remained silent. They have turned a blind eye to neo-Soviet repression, and they have ignored neo-Soviet aggression. Doggedly focused on their reelection narrative, they have insisted that Russia is doing just fine, a stalwart American partner, because of Obama’s “reset.” They have demanded that U.S. legislation be adopted to reward Russia with trade privileges, and they have demanded that no U.S. legislation confront Russia over its egregious human rights record.
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