Putin Is Cleaning Obama’s Clock - Commentary

Barack Obama’s “reset” with Russia is really going well, don’t you think?

Russia is defying America by granting Edward Snowden, who exposed some of the most classified secrets of our government, safe haven as he continues to elude capture. As Reuters reports:

Washington was stung by Russian defiance… The White House said it expected the Russian government to send Snowden back to the United States and lodged ‘strong objections’ to Hong Kong and China for letting him go. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to India that it would be “deeply troubling” if Moscow defied the United States over Snowden, and said the fugitive “places himself above the law, having betrayed his country”. But the Russian government ignored the appeal and President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary denied any knowledge of Snowden’s movements. Asked if Snowden had spoken to the Russian authorities, [Dmitry] Peskov said: “Overall, we have no information about him.”

This comes on top of Russia defying America’s wishes in the Syrian civil war, with Russia once again reasserting its presence in the Middle East after having been essentially expelled from there in the 1970s (a product of Henry Kissinger’s masterful diplomacy).

Russia was an early and strong supporter of the Assad regime, while America is a late and weak supporter of the rebel groups. President Obama wants Russia to help us; Putin wants Assad to win. And thanks in good measure to Russia, Assad (and hence Iran) is winning.

The Syrian debacle comes in the aftermath of Obama scrapping in 2009 a missile-defense system the Poles and the Czech Republic had agreed to house despite Russian threats, as a way to pacify Putin. (“The U.S. reversal is likely to please Russia, which had fiercely opposed the plans,” CNN reported at the time.)

Add to that Putin’s support for Iran’s nuclear ambitions and his crackdown at home. (The Washington Post writes that in “an attempt to suppress swelling protests against his rigged reelection and the massively corrupt autocracy he presides over, Mr. Putin has launched what both Russian and Western human rights groups describe as the most intense and pervasive campaign of political repression since the downfall of the Soviet Union.”). Taken all together, you can see that the Obama “reset”–which at the dawn of the Obama administration was described as a “win-win” strategy for both nations–has been a rout for the Russians.

With the Snowden situation, Vladimir Putin seems intent not only defying America but embarrassing her. It turns out that an irresolute amateur like Barack Obama was the best thing that the brutal but determined Putin could have hoped for.

He’s cleaning Obama’s clock.

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