Vladimir Putin has the world’s attention this week. The circumstances will remind everyone that reset with Russia is dead. Its
working hypothesis — that it was the George W. Bush administration, not the Putin regime, that had either inadvertently or provocatively offended the other’s sensibilities — was invented before the 2008 election on Obama’s partisan and political considerations, not empirical observation.
Under reset, the incoming Obama administration, more nuanced than the outgoing Bush administration and drawing on more enlightened thinking, would appeal to the better angels of Putin’s Russia. The more complex Obamaites would help enlighten the Putin autocracy to the fact that the U.S. and Russia had common interests in improving free trade. We really both wanted to calm world tensions while discouraging proliferation, combating terrorism, working with the United Nations, quelling international crises, and promoting human rights. Once Russians had been tutored about America’s good intentions, we could undo (“reset”) the damage done by the swaggering braggadocio of the interventionist prior administration. Misunderstanding and ill feelings, not ill intentions and malfeasance, were Russia’s sins.
And what is the result of reset? It is open Russian promotion of the Syria/Hezbollah/Iran axis that was active in Iraq and is now more so in Syria. It is Russian obstruction at the U.N. of most American initiatives. It is another round of strangulation of the former Soviet republics. It is satisfaction that a frustrated United States has been reduced to appeasement instead of taking serious steps to thwart Iranian nuclearization, as Putin eggs Iran on. It is more pressure on Eastern Europeans to look to the East, not to the West. It is humiliation of the European Union over Ukraine. It is more internal oppression of a brutal sort. And it is a gratuitous delight in exposing the Obama administration as sanctimonious and weak, while the U.S. lectures Russia on human rights, as if its tepid moral remonstrations de facto translate into shamed abidance. In sum, what the Obama administration is for, Putin is mostly against. Continue reading “The Value of Putin”→
Everyone can agree that Obama’s handling of the crisis has been puerile, and that there now are only the proverbial bad and worse options—the result being not whether the U.S. loses credibility, but only how much and for how long. So what comes next? Continue reading “Now What?”→
Syria is turning out to be a sort of Spanish Civil War of our age, with Hezbollah and Iran playing the role of fascist Italy and Germany, and the Islamic nations and jihadists that of Stalin’s Russia, as the moderates disappear and the messy conflict becomes a proxy war for greater powers, with worse to come. Continue reading “Intervention in Syria Is a Very Bad Idea”→
On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Barack Obama once called for a “reset” policy with Iran. Supposedly, the unpopularity of the Texan provocateur George W. Bush and his administration’s inability to finesse “soft power” had needlessly alienated the Iranian theocracy. Continue reading “Iran 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0”→
As the United States considers the Islamic jihadi threats confronting it from all sides, it would do well to focus on its southern neighbor, Mexico, which has been targeted by Islamists and jihadists, who, through a number of tactics — from engaging in da’wa, converting Mexicans to Islam, to smuggling and the drug cartel, simple extortion, kidnappings and enslavement Continue reading “Mexican Jihad”→