Thursday, July 09, 2009

Critiques of the Obamateur in Russia

I think from what I've read he's gotten a failing grade. No shock there.

In his Moscow speech, Obama delivered what is by now familiar as his trademark mix of historical omissions and revisions, sweeping statements about the "arc of history" and phrases of hope, change and moral equivalency. He brought up, yet again, America's "imperfections," dismissed as outdated the brand of American moral certitude and leadership that brought victory in World War II and called for collaboration, convergence and partnerships forged on common ground and progress toward a shared future. Call it Brotherhood 2.0.

Were it not for such obstacles as history, vast vested interests and human nature, it's a vision that just might work. But in the real world, as a basis for state policy, this is a time-tested recipe for disaster. There may be no venue better suited to underscore that lesson than Russia, home during most of the last century to a colossal and devastating experiment that began with fraternal ideals of communism and led to the gulag, mass deprivation and aggressive expansion. To this day, the ruinous inheritance of Soviet communism lingers on, from Cuba to China to North Korea, to the Soviet-tutored terrorist incubators of the Middle East, to the despotic currents running deep within Russia itself.

In Obama's version of history, Soviet communism (which he referred to not by name but as "old political and economic restrictions") came to an end through some sort of brotherly mass movement: "The change did not come from any one nation," he told an audience of Russian students. "The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful."

Whew, talk about missing the realities of the recent past. It wasn't because the people of Russia wanted it to be peaceful, it's the fact that their socio-political and economic solution failed dramatically, not to mention devastatingly. Far too much of it came from a weapons race that bankrupted the country that demanded that communism worked better than capitalism.

Then there is this article about the retreat of the Obamateur.

Obama had a chance to redeem himself with a speech to the New Economic School, a college funded by Westerners to teach Russians something real about business policy. But the speech positively dripped with equivocation and weakness. Here’s how he chose to warn Russia not to invade Georgia for a second time this summer, as many worry Putin plans to do:

State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That’s why we must apply this principle to all nations — and that includes nations like Georgia and Ukraine. America will never impose a security arrangement on another country. For any country to become a member of an organization like NATO, for example, a majority of its people must choose to; they must undertake reforms; they must be able to contribute to the Alliance’s mission. And let me be clear: NATO should be seeking collaboration with Russia, not confrontation.

An extraordinary amount of doubletalk, surmounted by the ominous use of the term “collaboration.” Not simply cooperation but collaboration, Mr. President? Are we going to collaborate with Russian if it moves soldiers back into Georgia, or into Ukraine, or launches another brutal cyber war against them or against Estonia? If Georgia has the “right to borders that are secure,” then doesn’t that mean Abkhazia and Ossetia must be returned from Russian annexation? Obama’s equivocation makes it very difficult to say.

Yike. I'm fascinated that he honestly wants NATO to collaborate with Russia. Maybe we could collaborate on more is they would start collaborating on some things of importance, say Iran. But since they are selling so much technology into Iran I doubt they have any interest in harming those sales for a country who doesn't appear to have Moscow as a primary target.

Well, I'm just cynical in thinking that you should be wary of the Russian bear. No doubt Obama is much more full of hope and change than I could be.

No comments: