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What’s Up with Russia?

Within the magical world of the White House and State Department, everything might be hunky-dory with regard to Russia and the Obama administration’s signature “reset” policy is an unquestioned success. Several months ago, I was on a National Public Radio show with another think tank analyst whom often serves as an Obama administration proxy. He sang the praises of the “reset,” arguing that Obama’s initiative resulted in Russian logistical cooperation, for example, allowing the United States to use the Manas airbase in Kyrgyztsan. To attribute Russian acquiescence to NATO supply through its territory to the “reset,” however, ignores Russian realism: Moscow fears Taliban resurgence and spread into Central Asia and, after initial suspicion, has been perfectly happy for American forces to hold the Islamists at bay.

In recent days, Russia has blocked UN condemnation of new Iranian missile tests, gloated over Edward Snowden, convicted a human rights lawyer whom it likely murdered of tax evasion in true Soviet fashion and, of course, keeps arming and supporting Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime in Syria. The unprecedented harassment U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul must endure is an intentional insult to the United States to which President Obama and Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have paid some lip service but remain largely indifferent. Nor is the White House willing to allow Russian harassment of U.S.- and European-staffed or funded NGOs to undercut its lofty notion of positive relations.

The list is long—to keep up with all the news from Russia, I usually follow Anna Borshchevskaya (@annaborsh) who, aside from her role as communications director for the American Islamic Congress, tweets out the latest from both English and Russian language sources about what the Russians are up to, and what they are saying about the United States. (Full disclosure, I have to follow Borshchevskaya in most things since we’re married). Still, what actually makes it to the Western press is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, what’s beneath the surface is often just as bad if not worse.


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