PJ Media

Russia Snubs Obama Overture

On Tuesday, it was reported that U.S. President Barack Obama had written a “secret letter” last month to Russian “president” Dmitri Medvedev. The letter seemed to propose that the U.S. would back away from its planned missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Russia would force Iran to shut down its long-range missile program.

When asked about the document, Obama stated:

What I said in the letter was that obviously to the extent that we are lessening Iran’s commitment to nuclear weapons, then that reduces the pressure for or the need for a missile defense system. In no way does that in any — does that diminish my commitment to making sure that Poland, the Czech Republic and other NATO members are fully enjoying the partnership, the alliance and U.S. support with respect to their security.

Assume for a moment that Obama did not intend to offer a quid pro quo along the lines of Munich that would sell America’s allies in Eastern Europe down the river, exposing them to Russian power and signaling American willingness to let Russia swallow them. Still, the context in which this letter was sent and the fact that its contents were leaked indicate that Obama has badly bungled his first effort at relations with Russia. Such a result is the entirely predictable result of his total lack of foreign policy experience.

It is simply inexcusable for Obama to fire off such a letter without at least simultaneously addressing the issue of human rights within Russia and military aggression by the Kremlin against neighboring states like Georgia. Only a simpleton would fail to realize that the Kremlin could only understand this failure to mean the U.S. does not care about these issues and will allow Russia to pulverize its helpless neighbors so long as U.S. strategic interests are not interfered with.

Indeed, Obama does appear to be a simpleton who will be suckered by the Kremlin in exactly the same pathetic manner that Jimmy Carter was (or, for that matter, George W. Bush). Russia’s response to the leak was telling. It poo-pooed the deal, obviously in the belief that even more concessions could be extracted from Obama. It is hard to understand how Obama can possibly justify suggesting that Russia can be trusted in a matter of this kind after his campaign so vigorously trashed the foreign policy of Bush, who had infamously declared Putin trustworthy after “looking into his eyes and glimpsing his soul.”

Does Barack Obama care at all about the hundreds of dark-skinned people who have been murdered in Russia because of their race? Does it matter to him that those who promote human rights, like Anna Politkovskaya and Stanislav Markelov, meet the same fate? Does he give even a tiny damn that Russia is seeking to destabilize Ukraine, has already attacked Georgia, and is in fact the main party responsible for making Iran a ballistic missile threat — to say nothing of arming and supporting Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah? Has he even read his own State Department’s recent scathing condemnation of Russia’s human rights abuses over the course of the last year?

There is no apparent indication of such concern on Obama’s part. Instead, one sees behavior that can only be perceived by the KGB thugs who infest the Russian Kremlin as weakness to be exploited. The notion that Russia can be relied upon as a partner in controlling Iran is ridiculous on its face, indeed childishly fanciful. Russia has a vested financial interest in supplying weapons to Iran and using the rogue regime’s threats as a way of destabilizing the oil markets and propping up prices artificially, all the while poking its finger into America’s eye. Russia is a country where the government is far more dangerous and corrupt than criminals,  where courts obliterate rights rather than protect them, and where “elections” continue to be fully neo-Soviet in character.  All that could possibly result from Obama’s overture is that Russian assistance to Iran will be driven underground; if the U.S. could not verify whether Iraq had dangerous weapons, it certainly cannot be sanguine about doing so where Iran is concerned. Meanwhile, partnership with America will be manipulated by the Kremlin for propaganda purposes to further undercut the reform movement in the country.

Even as news of Obama’s “secret letter” was breaking, it was also being reported that the gestapo-like goons who dare to call themselves “police” in Russia had arrested a large group of protesters who were  foolish enough to publicly demand justice for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, now facing double jeopardy as the Kremlin puts him back on trial a second time with the obvious intention of keeping him in prison for life. Obama’s actions virtually spit on all such brave Russian citizens and encourage others to keep silent. They imply that America will not intervene on their behalf.

The massive economic collapse Russia has experienced gives the U.S. an invaluable point of leverage it can use to force Russia to stand down from its outrageously threatening posture both domestically and internationally. It makes it possible for the U.S. to once again become a beacon of liberty that can inspire Russia’s oppressed population towards democratic action, and Obama is squandering that opportunity.

If he allows it to pass, history will condemn him