Remember Hillary’s “reset button?” That was the cute little prop (that was spelled wrong) that the Regime came up with in 2009 to signal to the world that the horrific policies of the previous eight years were over at last, and US and Russian relations were going to be hunky-dory from now on – thanks to our historic, new, Nobel Peace Prize winning president. Obama wanted everyone to know that the hated and disgraced Bush was now back to clearing brush at his ranch in Crawford, and the smart kids were going to show the world how it’s done.
Never mind that GW Bush and his father actually got along quite well with Vladamir Putin. Who can forget Bush’s effusive praise of Putin after their first meeting, when he said he “looked into his eyes and felt his soul.” The two seemed not only to have respected each other, but to have actually liked each other.
During an interview with CNN’s Larry King, in 2010, Putin had nothing but praise for the former president, even though the two sometimes disagreed on policy.
“They were warm relations,” he said through a translator. “(A) good, kind, human relationship. He visited me in my house. I visited him in his house, including at his ranch house (in Crawford).
“We have different views on many issues involved, of course. But one thing is for sure, George Bush the junior is a very decent fellow. I think he’s a very nice partner, too.”
Putin said he also was impressed with former President George H.W. Bush. He said the Bushes are ” a very good family. I was very pleased when I visited his father’s house in human terms. Yes.
“But still, we had different approaches while dealing with the same questions at hand.”
On the other hand, Putin has always treated our current president like the chump he is.
That much was obvious by the Fall of 2009 after Obama had already sold out Eastern Europe on missile defense, and allowed Russia to inspect our nuclear sites, and Russia was thanking him by rejecting the mere notion of sanctions on Iran.
Charles Krauthammer had written at the time:
Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that “threats, sanctions and threats of pressure” are “counterproductive.” Note: It’s not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.
It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved — to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? “We are not at that point yet,” she averred. “That is not a conclusion we have reached . . . it is our preference that Iran work with the international community.”
Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.
No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naivete, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.
Paul Mirengoff of Powerline also reported early on that the Regime was a source of amusement for the Russians.
If my Russian sources are reliable, the answer is that Obama is viewed there mostly with amusement. Some of the amusement stems from his trip to Russia this summer. My sources were amused by the flotilla of Air Force jets that brought him and his entourage to Moscow. They were also taken with (but not necessarily impressed by) the fact that Obama and his crew took over the Ritz Carlton hotel, where rooms start at around $1,200 per night and the presidential suite goes for $13,000.
The Marriott had been good enough for Presidents Clinton and Bush. Rooms there — described as similar to Marriott rooms in the U.S. — can be had for around $350. I was also told (but have not been able to confirm) that Bush himself stayed at the Ambassador’s residence, rather than in a hotel as Obama did.
Russia has seen self-aggrandizing, luxury loving heads of state before. What really has turned Russian heads, according to my sources, is Obama’s eagerness to give things away. The Russians, you see, are hard-nosed. They drive hard bargains in their dealings with themselves and perhaps harder still with outsiders. They may even take what they can’t get through hard bargaining when you’re not looking.
Throughout the Cold War, except to some extent during the Carter years, the U.S. responded more or less in kind to Russian hard-bargaining. In the modern era, President Bush, prodded by Vice President Cheney, eventually did so as well.
It probably never occurred to the Russians that a U.S. president would come to power hoping to “reset” relations with Russia on some basis other than the hard bargain and the “trust but verify” mentality. Yet this is precisely what has fallen into the Kremlin’s lap. From what I’ve heard, the Russian elites can neither believe their good fortune nor hide their amusement.
So it should come as no surprise that 3 1/2 years later, the Russians are thumbing their noses at Barry after being “put on notice” that there would be “consequences” if Russia refuses to hand over Snowden. As Krauthammer said, yesterday, nobody cares or worries about what Obama says, because his words carry no weight.
Today, Russia’s foreign minister called U.S. demands for Snowden’s extradition “ungrounded and unacceptable.”
This, after Obama’s uh – “charm offensive” with Putin at the G-8 Summit, last week.
Obama’s unusual two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California earlier this month doesn’t seems to be paying dividends, either.
Obama has made no known phone calls to Xi since Snowden surfaced in Hong Kong earlier this month, nor has he talked to Putin since Snowden arrived in Russia.
Former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said it wasn’t clear that Obama’s “charm offensive” with Xi and Putin would matter much on this issue. The U.S. has “very little leverage,” she said, given the broad array of issues on which the Obama administration needs Chinese and Russian cooperation.
“This isn’t happening in a vacuum, and obviously China and Russia know that,” said Harman, who now runs the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
Both the U.S. and China had hailed the Obama-Xi summit as a fresh start to a complex relationship, with the leaders building personal bonds during an hour-long walk through the grounds of the Sunnylands estate. But any easing of tensions appeared to vanish Monday following China’s apparent flouting of U.S. demands that Snowden be returned from semi-autonomous Hong Kong to face espionage charges.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, in unusually harsh language, said China had “unquestionably” damaged its relationship with Washington.
“The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” Carney said. “We think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem.”
A similar problem may be looming with Russia, where Snowden arrived Sunday. He had been expected to leave Moscow for a third country, but the White House said Monday it believed the former government contractor was still in Russia.
While the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, the White House publicly prodded the Kremlin to send Snowden back to the U.S., while officials privately negotiated with their Russian counterparts.
“We are expecting the Russians to examine the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden for his return to the United States,” Carney said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday bluntly rejected the U.S. request, saying Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border. He angrily lashed out at the U.S. for warnings of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.
“We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable,” Lavrov said.
National Journal reports that Russia is actively “trolling” the United States.
But Russia, in a convenient position to exercise plausible deniability, isn’t just trying to get the United States to back off. The Russians seem to be thoroughly enjoying the Obama administration’s discomfort, if not deliberately provoking some of it themselves.
Take Monday’s apparent deception, in which countless journalists leapt on board a plane bound for Cuba in hopes of scoring an interview with the flight’s most infamous passenger. Snowden never showed up. Whether his absence from Flight 150 was orchestrated by the Kremlin is unclear—but if it was, that would make for one epic practical joke.
Barry’s “smart power” is a laughingstock to the whole world, but W’s “cowboy diplomacy” is looks better and better, isn’t it?