It makes one squirm to hear Russian president Dmitry Medvedev gush over Obama — how he is not only a “comfortable partner” but a “thinker,” according to the Russian president. One wonders what thoughts Medvedev admires. Perhaps it is their shared disdain for any military action against Iran. (“It would be the worst possible scenario. Because any war means lives lost. Secondly, what does a war in the Middle East mean? Everyone is so close over there that nobody would be unaffected. And if conflict of that kind happens, and a strike is performed, then you can expect anything, including use of nuclear weapons. And nuclear strikes in the middle east, this means a global catastrophe. Many deaths.”) Perhaps it is their mutual unease with crippling sanctions. (“They should not lead to humanitarian catastrophe, and the whole Iranian community would start to hate the whole world. And we’re worried that there are a significant number of people which have radical opinions. Do we want that radical thought to be sent to the whole world? So sanctions should be smart.”) Or maybe it’s their wink-wink-nod-nod understanding not to make a fuss about human rights or democracy.
George W. Bush was mocked for looking into Vladimir Putin’s soul. But in a sense, it’s more disturbing that Obama has made such a splash with Medvedev. In Obama, Medvedev obviously sees a kindred spirit who is unwilling to rock despots’ boats and who shrinks from a confrontation with Iran. That’s reason for worry for those who seek promotion of democracy, human rights, and more robust response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.