“The foundations of Obama’s foreign policy have taken a serious beating over the weekend, with his desire to see a nuclear-free world perhaps one of the biggest casualties,” Walter Russell Mead writes today:
Behind the scenes, we are told, the White House spin machine is telling friendly reporters (of which there are many, though perhaps not so many as in 2009) that, in essence, Vladimir Putin has fallen into a trap. “I’ve got him where I want him,” as the hunter said when the bear chased him up a tree.
There is a sense in which this is actually true; Putin is leading Russia down a dead end and the creation of a corrupt, authoritarian and brutal state resting on the exploitation of hydrocarbons will over time weaken and marginalize Russia in world affairs. As a further step down that dark road, the Ukrainian invasion deepens the historical crisis of modern Russia and makes positive progress both more difficult and less likely. There are two kinds of state-building autocrats. Some throttle freedom and succeed in building a strong and modernizing state; names like Kemal Ataturk, Augusto Pinochet and Lee Kwan Yew come to mind. Others throttle freedom and have nothing to show for it—people like Juan Peron, Benito Mussolini, and Slobodan Milosevic. Putin is increasingly likely to go down in history as a failed state builder, a man who took Russia down the wrong path and who added to the burden of Russian history.
But those are long term considerations that, unfortunately for the diligent White House staffers working to spin the next news cycle, won’t help the President now. In the short term President Putin has put President Obama in an ugly spot. President Obama’s foreign policy depends on three big ideas: that a working relationship with Russia can help the United States stabilize the Middle East, that a number of American adversaries are willing to settle their differences with us on the basis of compromises that we can accept, and that President Obama has the smarts to know who we can trust.
Well, so much for that idea. When you’ve lost TNR…
That awkward moment when The New Republic decides, “Mitt Romney was right about Russia” 16 months after the election http://t.co/2uBQS01qZi
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) March 3, 2014
On the other hand, CNN, which tut-tuts about Vladimir Putin “bullying” Obama should be pretty happy with the current state of affairs, as Dave Carter notes at Ricochet:
What we are seeing is a sort of Piers Morgan foreign policy, which finds virtue where good people are defenseless, where weakness is confused with strength, vulnerability is confused with courage, and mediocrity is confused with exceptionalism. At home, this approach leaves the American citizen helpless in something called a “gun-free zone,” which in reality becomes a shooting gallery where deranged savages, who remain invincibly indifferent to the law, prey on the innocent. In the international arena, it whets the appetite of ruthless men and invites aggression.
And NBC’s David Gregory hopes that Obama continues to be “bullied,” as he’d much rather see a weak America than a confident one:
On Sunday’s NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory appeared to caution President Obama against aggressively confronting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Teeing up left-wing Daily Beast editor Tina Brown, Gregory declared: “Look, part of the Bush era that a lot of people recoiled against was the idea of talking tough and projecting American power as if some how feeling better about that makes the world better.”
On Saturday, my fellow PJM colleague Rick Moran noted that “It’s Beginning to Smell Like the 1970s.” But on the left, when did the blinkers of the Malaise era, which ran from 1968 until the election of President Reagan ever actually come off?