President Obama has been completely deferential toward Vladimir Putin, the wannabe Stalin. Obama caved on putting antimissile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic, staunch allies both. More recently, he sealed a deal with Putin cutting strategic warheads on both sides, leaving in place Russia’s decisive advantage in tactical nukes. And Obama has got- ten absolutely nothing in return. It’s been butkus for butt kiss.
Four recent stories drive this point home. The first is from the Financial Times of London (March 18). It presents a sorry picture. Instead of cooperating in imposing sanctions on the jihadist authoritarian state of Iran in order to get it to halt its nuclear weapons program, Putin announced — while Secretary of State Clinton was visiting Moscow! — that Russia will increase its help for Iran in its rush to complete its Bushehr nuclear power reactor by summer. Oh, Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov allowed that it might support “smart” sanctions against Iran in the fuzzy indefinite future, meaning sanctions that aim at deterring nuclear proliferation rather than hurting Iran’s economy. What conceivable deterrent value economically impotent sanctions would have, the Russians didn’t say.
The second story is from the Washington Times on the same day. While the Obama administration has actually banned offshore oil drilling on much of the outer continental shelf (all of the East and West coasts and much of the deep water off the Gulf Coast), Russia has announced that it will start drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, in conjunction with its old ally Cuba, Russia will begin exploiting oil resources in the deep waters of the Gulf — in an area that the Carter administration agreed that Cuba could exploit. (This is not the area in which Obama has just announced he will allow drilling to proceed, which is nearer to Florida than it is to Cuba).
The third story is from Reuters (April 5). Putin, while visiting his sweetheart Hugo Chavez, the caudillo of Venezuela, has announced that Russia will be selling up to $5 billion in arms to Venezuela. These weapons will include T-72 tanks and the S-300 advanced antiaircraft missile system. This is on top of the $4 billion in arms the Russians recently sold to Chavez. These weapons will make it easier for Chavez to threaten his nemesis Colombia, the president of which country the Venezuelan government wished to assassinate, according to Spanish sources.
The fourth story is from the AP (April 6). The deal that the U.S. and Russia have just made is a new nuclear arms control treaty that replaces the 1991 START 1 treaty (which expired late last year). Immediately after signing it, the Russians announced that they reserved the right to abrogate it if they perceive the U.S. to be developing its missile defense system to the point where it becomes a “strategic” threat. This is Russian negotiation at its finest: we’ll agree to limit some weapons, until we decide that it is no lon- ger in our interests to do so. And it is just a variation on Russia’s basic stance: what’s mine is mine; what’s yours is open to negotiation.
So much for Obama’s dovish notion that being nice to America’s enemies would pay off in increased cooperation from them.