Who's Playing Whom?
Mark Thiessen: The Taliban is playing Obama.
All I can say is, Hey Achmed, get in line -- it's Putin's turn.
I wish I were kidding with this stuff, but I guess it needs a more serious treatment. So let's go back to Thiessen here:
The Taliban has once again promised, in a statement announcing the opening of its new political office in Qatar, that it “does not wish to harm other countries from its soil and neither will it allow others use Afghan soil to pose a threat to the security of other nations.”
Don’t believe a word of it.
Taliban leaders are not interested in sharing power. Their goal is to get the United States out of the way so they can take over Afghanistan.
So why are the Taliban negotiating? Simple. It knows that Barack Obama wants to leave Afghanistan and close Guantanamo Bay — and they want to help him do both.
Of course, Thiessen might be subtly mistaken here. Maybe the Taliban isn't playing Obama, because he knows he's being played. But closing Gitmo wins back some of his lost capital with the Vile Prog Wing of his party, and getting out of Afghanistan frees up money for blowing on more stimulus spending. And it just looks bad to cut ten or twelve combat brigades out of an Army we're still using.
Is Obama getting played? What difference, at this point, does it make? He's getting what he wants: A free hand to gut the military and boost domestic spending.
But what's this about Putin? Let's go to Commentary's Peter Wehner:
The Syrian debacle comes in the aftermath of Obama scrapping in 2009 a missile-defense system the Poles and the Czech Republic had agreed to house despite Russian threats, as a way to pacify Putin. (“The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans,” CNN reported at the time.)
Add to that Putin’s support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and his crackdown at home. (The Washington Post writes that in “an attempt to suppress swelling protests against his rigged reelection and the massively corrupt autocracy he presides over, Mr. Putin has launched what both Russian and Western human rights groups describe as the most intense and pervasive campaign of political repression since the downfall of the Soviet Union.”). Taken all together, you can see that the Obama “reset”–which at the dawn of the Obama administration was described as a “win-win” strategy for both nations–has been a rout for the Russians.
With the Snowden situation, Vladimir Putin seems intent not only defying America but embarrassing her. It turns out that an irresolute amateur like Barack Obama was the best thing that the brutal but determined Putin could have hoped for.
Obama is expert at playing against weak-willed legislatures like the GOP caucus on Capitol Hill. But Putin is expert at playing against weak-willed executives like Obama.