Tom Finneran: Putin By A TKO

Friday, June 28, 2013

 

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Do you remember the famous “reset button” of candidate and President Obama regarding our relations with Russia? It was a perfect position for campaign purposes, indicating the possibilities of a fresh start without admitting the hard and soulless realities of Mr. Putin and his gang. In a fight between the soft power advocates of the Harvard faculty and Mr. Putin, bet on the guy with the brass knuckles. In fact, we’d better get the President a protective cup because Putin keeps kneeing him in the groin. Perhaps when the wishful thinking of the White House ends, so too will the mugging of America.

The injuries to the interests of the United States go far beyond the theatrics of stagecraft where everyone pretends that second, third, and fourth rate nations are the equal of America. Those niceties I understand and we should never fail to observe them. In fact, humility and modesty travel very well with power. We can always afford to be magnanimous and I believe that we are basically a people with gentle and generous souls. We have no need to mimic Putin’s hard stares at the world.

But it’s long past time to do some staring and glaring of our own when it comes to Mr. Putin himself. How has he injured us? Let us count the ways:

  • Consider the Kremlin’s technical dance around the status of Edward Snowden the now notorious leaker of NSA surveillance activities currently holed up in a Moscow airline terminal. Putin says that technically he is not on Russian soil and he has denied U.S. requests to either expel Mr. Snowden or turn him over to U.S. authorities for prosecution. Whether one is a Snowden fan or critic is immaterial. It seems obvious that if a large group of Americans flew into the Moscow airport in question and began a boisterous demonstration about Putin’s KGB history of past and present thuggery, then suddenly Russia’s jurisdiction over that airport would be clarified in a most chilling manner.

  • Consider Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to the Kremlin where he was kept waiting for three hours for an audience with Putin. I’ll concede that on the scale of meaningful events that it’s a relatively small item. But it’s an item pregnant with significance about Putin’s assessment of Barack Obama. That assessment is not complimentary to Obama as a strategist and leader. Secretary Kerry gets the Russian winter treatment and we just meekly shrug our shoulders.

  • Consider Russia’s embrace of the Syrian regime in direct opposition to our repeated requests to facilitate a transition from Assad’s violent and predatory rule. One need not be a fan of the Syrian opposition to note that Russia seems to deliberately and consistently consider our stated interests and then proceeds to block them. Explain to me once more what the “reset button” has gained for us, other than the contempt and opposition of Putin.

  • Consider Iran and its reckless determination to secure nuclear weaponry, as well as its stated intent to annihilate Israel from the face of the map. The position of the U.S. on this issue has been crystal clear for many years. Presidents Bush and Obama have uttered countless warnings about Iran’s activities and have pursued, perhaps too daintily, diplomatic solutions to this Middle East nightmare. Whether at the U.N. or at the side of the mullahs of Tehran, Russia has consistently undermined and stymied U.S. efforts at resolving the looming crisis.

  • Most importantly, consider our allies around the world as they observe our obsequious acceptance of these actions, while continuing to utter our desperate desire for a “reset” of relations with Russia. Those allies see quite clearly that the reset has already occurred and that Russia will continue to push an America that will not stand up and push back. Why are we on bended knee, pleading for forgiveness and understanding? Those poor Czechs and Poles are neighbors to Putin’s Russia and therefore not naïve to their intentions. Some friend we turned out to be to the Czechs and Poles. Is the West Wing’s desperation for a condescending nod of approval from the Nobel Committee so strong that we will continue to grovel at the feet of the Russian bully? Our allies clearly see the suicidal foolishness of John Lennon’s “Imagine” worldview. One wishes that the United States saw it too.

 
 

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