Obama as Putin's Pawn
Has an American president been a willing pawn in Russia's great power game? The press will (and repeatedly has) told us that president is Donald Trump. But there is a much stronger candidate...with a proven record of allowing the Russian Bear to advance across the globe. His name? Barack Obama. According to National Review's Rich Lowry, the evidence is "circumstantial." But it has brought us directly to where we are today:
[Obama] reset with Russia shortly after its clash with Georgia in 2008. He concluded the New START agreement with Moscow that reduced our nuclear forces but not theirs. When candidate Mitt Romney warned about Russia in the 2012 campaign, Obama rejected him as a Cold War relic. The president then went on to forge an agreement with Russia’s ally Iran to allow it to preserve its nuclear program. During the red-line fiasco, he eagerly grasped a lifeline from Russia at the price of accepting its intervention in Syria. He never budged on giving Ukraine “lethal” weapons to defend itself from Russian attack. Finally, Obama cut U.S. defense spending and cracked down on fossil fuels, a policy that Russia welcomed since its economy is dependent on high oil prices.
Put all of this together, and it’s impossible to conclude anything other than that Obama was a Russian stooge, and not out of any nefarious deals, but out of his own naivete and weakness. Obama didn’t expect any rewards when he asked then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a hot-mic moment at an international meeting to relay to Vladimir Putin his ability to be more “flexible” after the 2012 election; he was, to put it in terms of the current Russian election controversy, “colluding” with the Russians in the belief it was a good strategy. His kompromat was his own foolishness.
"Naivete and weakness" that only emboldened Putin to follow his desire to rebuld the Soviet empire. But we must also keep this in mind:
Even if Obama eventually got tougher on Russia — imposing sanctions after the Ukraine invasion and sending contingents of U.S. troops to countries near Russia — he never entirely shed his reflex toward accommodation. No matter what conspiracy theorists might say, there’s nothing to suggest anything untoward about Obama’s relationship with Russia. But based on the record alone, you might have suspicions.
Accommodation has shown, once again, its inability to restrain, let only stop, dictators with a thirst for global power. It is still too early to know for certain whether the Trump administration will take a harder line toward Moscow, or whether he will follow his campaign rhetoric and seek his own brand of accommodation.
If he follows the later course, we know the results: Russia takes every inch they are given, and prepare to take more. At home, Democrats will use such a policy as fodder for its campaign to undermine the administration...while ignoring Mr. Obama's actions.