It was silly from the start. Now it’s just sad.
America has most certainly been ‘‘overcharged.’’
This past week, if they didn’t already know, our NATO partners learned that Russia is in fundamental breach of its 1987 INF missile treaty obligations.
Unsurprisingly, Putin disagrees with that finding. Instead, he’s declared the case closed.
And the White House has reacted in true form.
As the New York Times notes, ‘‘Obama administration officials are not yet ready to formally declare the tests of the missile, which has not been deployed, to be a violation of the 1987 treaty.’’
We should have known. Red lines… For this Administration, reality is subjective.
But the week’s “reset”-related meltdowns don’t end here. Not by a long shot.
Simultaneous with the INF news, it’s become clear that the Russian sponsored Syria-WMD deal is going equally swimmingly. Put simply, Assad isn’t ready to give up his weapons. Thus far, Assad has handed over only 4% of his top-tier chemical weapons. Combined with other reporting from CNN and Foreign Policy, it’s pretty obvious to see what’s going on.
Putin is blitzing us. Again.
Let’s be clear. The Administration’s policy on Syria has always been indefensible. Ultimately, Obama’s choices were never about foreign policy; they were always about domestic politics. They were about the President’s escape from the absurd political hole that he had dug himself into. And just as Obama’s policy was skewed, its consequences were always set in stone. The moment it became clear that the American President would not respond to Assad’s rampage, America’s coercive power disappeared. Like a teacher facing a student without respect; Assad just smiled, said “yes, sir,’’ and laughed behind our back.
And so, the inevitable has followed. Around the world — just look at the Syrian Foreign Minister’s gamesmanship in Switzerland — Putin consolidates his interests while America babbles.
It’s the Putin swindle.
To be fair, 44’s not the first President to be seduced by the KGB maestro. Few can forget President W. Bush’s comment, ‘‘I looked the man in the eye.’’
The difference is that Bush woke up. Obama remains in his slumber.
In his State of the Union address just a few days ago, the President claimed that ‘‘On every issue, the world turns to us…’’ Imagine the chortles that must have greeted that line in Moscow, Damascus and Tehran. As I’ve noted before, without the perception of resolve, Presidential power is impotent.
Still, the President’s Russian-policy isn’t without its supporters. Indeed, the insipid ease with which so many on the American left have supported his approach is staggering. There’s a deep moral hypocrisy at work here. Just as American liberals easily cleansed their souls of the images of choking children, Putin’s homosexual prejudices stir them to fury. And just as American liberals showered disdain upon Romney for his warnings of Russian aggression, these commentators ignore their own contradictions.
The problem, of course, is that Putin does the very opposite. He pays heed to the delusion.
As any good intelligence officer would, Putin looks to exploit the chinks in his opponent’s armor without them knowing it. In short, he pushes the line as far as he can push it; for he knows that the line does not yet exist. That’s why Putin ignores treaties on a whim. That’s why he showers arms on despots without a second glance. That’s why he has the gall to write condescending letters. The dichotomy is telling; where Obama uses diplomacy to excuse his policy trepidation, Putin uses diplomacy to assert his global agenda.
The urgent need then, is obvious. Obama must reset the reset.
There’s only one way that the President can regain America’s strategic influence over Russia. By accepting Putin for what he is — a thug who can bent into line. By doing what his predecessor learned to do; facing Putin down. By doing what the Israelis do; playing Putin at his own game. Until the President wakes up, his continuing ignorance will be paid by innocent lives and the prestige of the United States.
On a more hopeful note, the timing for a course change could not be better. If the President needs inspiration, America’s athletes in Sochi are sure to provide it.