G-20 Outtakes

And Apologies Too! Obama apologized for American culpability for the meltdown. But wait: Iceland melted without us. No American forced Austrian banks to lend 100% plus of their worth to eastern Europe. What did Wall Street have to do with the crazy Spanish or Aegean real estate market, or the nutty spending habits of oil-drunk Russians and Middle Easterners? If he wants to apologize (this is going to be a long Carter/Clinton "I'm sorry" Presidency), then, for God's sake apologize for the new borrowing, and draining the world's available capital to finance our out of control budgets.

Re: the new relations with Russia. I hope all the happy talk leads to less tensions. But it is easy to sort of promise to be nice, to push the "reset" button, or to talk grandly of new protocols; but the fact is that all this rhetoric means nothing.

What Obama must answer is to what degree is he going to turn Ukraine, Georgia, and other former Soviet republics back over to Russian influence, to what degree is he going to ignore Russian gas/oil blackmail over energy-hungry Western Europe, to what degree is he going to tsk tsk Russian complicity in Iran's nuclear program, to what degree is he going to drop talk of protecting eastern Europe (and Western) with an anti-ballistic system aimed at Iranian missiles, etc. If those really are issues, then we will have problems with an authoritarian and dictatorial Russia bent on restoring former grandeur.

Hope and Change. In every case, a democratic Russia, integrated within the West, could solve such tensions fairly easily. But I fear now that all of them are challenges that Putin, Inc. will see as means to an end, such as restoring domestic pride, restoring Russian hegemony in areas encroaching upon Eastern Europe, and creating more problems for the US that will check our power.

I fear that the Russians will leave praising Obama to the skies, while delighted that Iran's new bomb will cause us problems untold, that those in the East cannot trust us in a crisis, that Europe will learn to respect Russia if their flats are to stay warm—and that a rogue's gallery of global fascists will begin to look to Russia, in Cold War fashion, to deal with us to further their aims.

Bottom line: this is the first global summit that I can remember in which the United States is occupying a position to the left of all our allies, and, in our fiscal promiscuity, to the left of our left-wing rivals as well.