March 25, 2014

Russia Receives Sternly Worded Letter

The G-8 suspends Russia, while the administration still insists the “reset” worked.

Mitt Romney isn’t the kind of guy to relish the “I told you so” moment, but he hasn’t missed the opportunity for some vindication over foreign policy. In one of the 2012 presidential debates, Barack Obama mocked Romney’s assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical threat. As was all too obvious to us at the time, Obama was merely showcasing his own ignorance because Romney was exactly right.

“[T]here’s no question but that the president’s naïveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face,” the former GOP presidential candidate said over the weekend. “We really need to understand that Russia has very different interests than ours. This is not fantasyland, this is reality where they are a geopolitical adversary. They’re not our enemy, but they are certainly an adversary on the world stage.”

Indeed, Obama’s pathetically weak response to former KGB strongman Vladimir Putin has served to embolden Russian aggression in Ukraine. Only after Crimea was annexed and Russian troops were amassing along the border with Ukraine did Obama begin issuing a few slaps on the wrist via insignificant sanctions. On Monday, the U.S. and six other members of the G-8, a group of the world’s economic powers, made the symbolic gesture of suspending Russia from the club and moving their June meeting from Sochi to Brussels. Yet they declined to issue further sanctions, saving that step in case Russia invades Ukraine.

Russia responded with indifference, as the foreign minister said, “Maybe, for a year or two, it will be an experiment for us to see how we live without it.” In fact, Obama threatened to kick Russia out of the G-8 before the invasion; obviously, that didn’t alter Putin’s calculations. He will proceed as planned until Obama and the West show some real backbone.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blames Republicans, who blocked an aid package to Ukraine over objections to changes made with the International Monetary Fund. “It’s impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice,” Reid said of the bill, which passed Monday but had no chance of becoming law in time to make a difference anyway. Besides, anybody remember Reid’s “unified voice” declaring the Iraq war “lost” in 2007?

Finally, the Obama administration is stubborn in its blindness. Tom Donilon, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, even defended the administration’s “reset” with Russia, saying that it worked like a charm. “I know there’s been some criticism on, was the reset ill advised?” said Donilon. “No, the reset wasn’t ill advised. The reset resulted in direct accomplishments that were in the interests of the United States.” It seems to us the net result has been Russian resurgence in the face of the administration’s weakness. But then again, for a president who can’t tolerate American exceptionalism, that probably is a success story.

> Addendum: Not only is Putin moving in Eastern Europe, he’s making advances in Latin America, sending navy ships and long-range bombers there. Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel” in Latin America, adding, “It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence.”

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