Obama got a taste, though, of how Putin treats his own countrymen when he sent Hillary Clinton to Moscow begging for a renewal of the START treaty, which lapsed months ago despite Obama’s much ballyhooed “reset” of relations, of which sending U.S. soldiers to Red Square is an obvious part. Putin chose just that moment to announce he would press forward in helping Iran to light up a nuclear power plant even as Clinton courts world sanctions against that rogue nation because of its nuclear weapons secrecy.
Seasoned Latvian diplomat Sandra Kalniete urges Obama to remember a little American history. In the past, she writes, Americans understood that while one might seek to make deals with the Russian government in the interests of world security, it was imperative to simultaneously reach out to the “second Russia” being oppressed by the first. Obama, in the manner of Neville Chamberlain, seems to have forgotten about this equation and to have firmly turned down the road of appeasement.
One hopeful sign, however, is that Senator John McCain seems to have at last gotten the message. On March 17, he rose dramatically on the floor of the U.S. Senate to demand action from the Obama administration. McCain declared:
I had an opportunity the other week to meet with one of these brave Russian champions of human dignity and freedom — a man by the name of Boris Nemtsov. Mr. Nemtsov is but one of the many Russians who believe that their country deserves a government that enshrines the human rights of its people in an inviolable rule of law that allows citizens to hold their leaders accountable through a real democratic process. I asked Mr. Nemtsov what we in Washington could do to support the cause of human rights in Russia, and he simply said: “Speak up for it. And speak up for us.” It is my pleasure to do just that today.
Russia expert Vladmir Kara-Murza writes of Nemtsov: “Kremlin propagandists would have the outside world believe that its puppet ‘parliament’ and its sanctioned ‘opposition’ parties represent the full spectrum of views in Russian society. The Solidarity leader’s meetings on Capitol Hill are proof that the world knows better.” Perhaps the Congress and the world know, but does Barack Obama? Nemtsov may have been too ambitious in his plea for assistance. Perhaps he ought to simply have asked that the U.S. not make things worse by sending military forces to Red Square.
McCain has been shockingly silent on Russia since Obama defeated him, apparently out of respect for the presidency. But now he has seen too much. It is one thing for Obama to ignore the need to speak up for American value; it’s quite something else for him to send U.S. troops to march alongside the forces of the man who is leading the attack upon them. McCain must now lead Republicans back to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy, demanding that Obama cease his reckless course of appeasement and stand behind his oath of office.
And all Americans of good conscience should write their elected representatives and demand that U.S. soldiers break their date with the neo-Soviet empire of Vladimir Putin.