Throughout the 2008 campaign Barack Obama promised that if elected he would ‘restore our standing’ in the world. I’m not sure all of our allies feel the same way, but as far as Russia is concerned: mission accomplished.
My colleague Barack Obama and I have once again had a constructive discussion of the various issues on the international agenda and on bilateral cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States.
I said that although there are varying assessments of the reset in relations that has been much spoken about over these last three years, I think that we have accomplished very useful work over this time. These have perhaps been the best three years in relations between our two countries over the last decade.
This is an excerpt from prepared remarks delivered by outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at the close of the nuclear security summit in South Korea at the beginning of this week. So in a way it’s old news – in Russia – where the highlighted statement by Medvedev was splashed across numerous headlines. But curiously, there was nary a mention of it in the U.S. media. You’d think this sort of lavish praise for President Obama would be considered newsworthy, if for no other reason that the statement was also an implicit criticism of the Bush Administration. Was our media too busy covering (up) Obama’s ‘hot mic’ gaffe to mention this? Because if anything the president’s gaffe makes this statement by Medvedev even more newsworthy. Since it clearly suggests that the Russian government would relish the prospect of even more ‘flexibility’ under a second Obama term. If three years were so great, why not eight?
I think the White House realizes that the optics of these cozy little interchanges between Obama and Medvedev are really not good for the president. They can mock Mitt Romney all they want, but most Americans voters grew up in an era where Russia was our primary political ‘foe’. And it’s not lost on most Americans that the Russian government has continued to be a thorn in our side in dealing with Iran, Syria, and a host of other global challenges. Nor is it lost on most Americans that Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, has effectively presided over the Russian government for more than a dozen years now. If concern over Russia’s foreign policy intentions is based on caricature, it’s a caricature the Russian government has done absolutely nothing to dispel through their actions in recent years.
Given the concessions already made by the Obama Administration on missile defense, and the new START treaty, not to mention our support of Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, it’s hardly surprising that the Russians would have such a favorable view of U.S. policy over the past 3 years. But I’m pretty sure most Americans don’t view Russian policy towards the U.S. in the same favorable light, nor do they place much value on restoring our standing in the world, especially when it comes at the price of weakening our defenses.
Like certain other fulfilled campaign promises (ahem, ObamaCare), this one is also a political loser. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this.