When I read the news on March 18, I was ashamed to call myself an American, ashamed to admit that Barack Obama was my president.
I learned in a tiny Internet blurb from the Associated Press that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had confirmed that on May 9, 2010, American soldiers would march in the infamous military parade through Red Square alongside the neo-Soviet army of proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin. Obama wants U.S. soldiers to help the Kremlin celebrate the 65th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany. British and French soldiers, it seems, will also take part.
All part of the now infamous Obama “reset” on Russia. Next stop for U.S. troops? Maybe a similar parade in Tehran?
Make no mistake about how Russians will understand this event. Putin will say to them: “You see, not only will they not help you fight for democracy, they will march against you. They will help me crush you.” Meanwhile Russian propagandists lose no opportunity to divide and conquer the West, even going so far as to buzz Alaska with nuclear bombers on a routine basis.
The reporting of the item was so obscure, one could almost have thought Obama was ashamed of his decision — as well he might have been.
Two days later, a massive wave of protests swept Russia, in a coordinated move by the opposition known as “Day of Anger.” The Russian government outlawed the protests, shut down the website that was organizing them, preemptively arrested activist leaders, and then conducted mass arrests of those who dared to show their faces on the streets. Obama said nothing in support of these freedom fighters.
The contrast between the craven actions of the Obama administration and the valiant stand being taken by activists within Russia could not be more disturbing. America can clearly be seen betraying the bedrock principles upon which it was founded, allowing a vehemently anti-American regime to consolidate power in Moscow, and supplying aid and comfort to American enemies across the globe. Obama is rapidly becoming a president who will live in infamy.
Signs of popular unrest are growing daily in Putin’s Russia as the KGB regime further and further compresses personal freedom and civil society, and more and more badly bungles the management of the economy. A recent news report and YouTube video showed today’s Russia in microscosm: Workers assigned to build the Sochi 2014 Olympics venues are going unpaid, starving, and living in slum conditions, because the Kremlin, strapped for cash and hopelessly corrupt, cannot pay them. Russia spent five times more preparing its athletes for the 2010 Olympics compared to 2006, and collected one-third fewer medals.
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.