Opinion

Opinion

Obama ‘flexibility’ sends chilling message

March 31, 2012

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— “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him (Putin) to give me space. ... This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

     — Barack Obama to Dmitry Medvedev, open mic, March 26

You don’t often hear an American president secretly (he thinks) assuring foreign leaders that concessions are coming their way, but they must wait because he’s seeking re-election and he dare not tell his own people.

Not at all, spun a White House aide in major gaffe-control mode. The president was merely explaining that arms control is too complicated to be dealt with in a year in which both Russia and the U.S. hold presidential elections.

Rubbish. First of all, to speak of Russian elections in the same breath as ours is a travesty. Theirs was a rigged, predetermined farce. Putin ruled before. Putin rules after.

Obama spoke of the difficulties of the Russian presidential “transition.” What transition? It’s a joke. It had no effect on Putin’s ability to negotiate anything.

As for the U.S. election, the problem is not that the issue is too complicated but that if people knew Obama’s intentions of “flexibly” caving on missile defenses, they might think twice about giving him a second term.

After all, what is Obama doing negotiating on missile defense in the first place? We have no obligation to do so. The ABM Treaty, a relic of the Cold War, died in 2002.

We have an unmatched technological lead in this area. It’s a priceless strategic advantage that for three decades Russia has been trying to get us to yield. Why give any of it away? In order to placate Putin, Obama had already in 2009 abruptly canceled the missile-defense system the Poles and Czechs had agreed to host in defiance of Russian threats. Why give away more?

It’s unfathomable. In trying to clean up the gaffe, Obama emphasized how intent he is to “reduce nuclear stockpiles” and “reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.” In which case, he should want to augment missile defenses, not weaken, dismantle or bargain them away. The fewer nukes you have for deterrence, the more you need nuclear defenses. If your professed goal is nuclear disarmament, as is Obama’s, eliminating defenses is completely illogical.

Nonetheless, Obama is telling the Russians not to worry, that once past “my last election” and no longer subject to any electoral accountability, he’ll show “more flexibility” on missile defense. It’s yet another accommodation to advance his cherished Russia “reset” policy.

Why? Hasn’t reset been failure enough?

Let’s do the accounting. In addition to canceling the Polish/Czech missile defense system, Obama gave the Russians accession to the World Trade Organization, a START treaty that they need and we don’t (their weapons are obsolete and deteriorating rapidly) and a scandalously blind eye to their violations of human rights and dismantling of democracy. Obama even gave Putin a congratulatory call for winning his phony election.

In return? Russia consistently watered down or obstructed sanctions on Iran, completed Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, provides to this day Bashar al-Assad with huge arms shipments used to massacre his own people (while rebuilding the Soviet-era naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus), conducted a virulently anti-American presidential campaign on behalf of Putin, pressured Eastern Europe and threatened Georgia.

On which of “all these issues” — Syria, Iran, Eastern Europe, Georgia, human rights — is Obama ready to offer Putin yet more flexibility as soon as he gets past his last election? Where else will he show U.S. adversaries more flexibility? Yet more aid to North Korea? More weakening of tough Senate sanctions against Iran?

Can you imagine the kind of pressure a re-elected Obama will put on Israel, the kind of anxiety he will induce from Georgia to the Persian Gulf, the nervousness among our most loyal East European friends who, having already once been left out on a limb by Obama, are now wondering what new flexibility Obama will show Putin — the man who famously proclaimed that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was Russia’s loss of its Soviet empire.

They don’t know. We don’t know. We didn’t even know this was coming — until the mic was left open. Only Putin was to know. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev assured Obama.

Added Medvedev: “I stand with you.” A nice endorsement from Putin’s puppet, enough to chill friends and allies, democrats and dissidents, all over the world.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

its_just_math 3 years, 4 months ago

Well Charles, the corrupt Obamamania media would rather report on every word that comes out of Rick Santorum, Romney and Gingrich's mouths. Anointed One suggesting to Medvedev that we may scrap the defense system after if he's re-elected on what he thought was a cold microphone is not that surprising. I'd like to be a fly on the wall when he's talking to Axelroid privately---or Emanuel or especially Holder.

voevoda 3 years, 4 months ago

Refrain from blasphemy, its_just_math. "Anointed One" is the title of Jesus Christ. What is more important to you: to show your disrespect for the president, or to show your respect for God?

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure you spoke up while Dubya was being called "shrub" or "chimp" weren't you? You seem fair and all that. Nice fellow you must be.

Americans should call the president any word or combination of words they deem most descriptive. The presidency itself deserves utter respect, but the man is just hired help. He's about as special as you.

Of course all characterizations should comply with the TOS if the medium is private, such as The LJW forum.

I don't call The President anything with "anointed", but he is a liar. Ask Akbar down in Gitmo, he'll back me up on that. Bush was Cheney's dummy. Half the time it seemed like Cheney's arm was up Dubya's back, moving his lips. Also, Bill Clinton was womanizer, and Hilary is the strongest man we've had in government since Reagan.

Given a choice between the left and the right, I'll choose the constitution instead.

Bob Harvey 3 years, 4 months ago

This commentary was written by Mr. Krauthammer, not Rush or Sean.

Is his commentary true or not? If he is wrong, why? If he is wrong what is your take on the President's comment?

progressive_thinker 3 years, 4 months ago

Krauthammer is, per usual, whipping up the conservative base over what amounts to nothing.

"You don’t often hear an American president secretly (he thinks) assuring foreign leaders that concessions are coming their way, but they must wait because he’s seeking re-election and he dare not tell his own people."

I did not hear anything about any specific concession in Obama's statement. It looks more like he simply did not want to try to deal with this critical of an issue during the middle of election year partisan bickering, particularly given the level of misinformation that has been spewed by the conservatives. [example: Krauthammer's commentary on the "flammable" Chevy Volt.]

Additionally, it does little good for the Obama administration to begin negotiations on something like this that could well extend past the end of his Presidency, should he not be reelected in November. Doing so might burden the incoming President to change course during the middle of negotiations.

Krauthammer insinuates that the President can somehow magically sign a treaty and make it effective. The truth is that ratification would require a 2/3 vote of the senate. Given this requirement, it seems that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent a rogue President from giving away too many concessions.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 4 months ago

Well, Mr. Krauthammer has such a great incisive understanding of the intricacies of Russian-US relations that I stand in awe of his ability to develop a strategy that outmaneuvers both Putin and Obama in terms of setting the future course between the two nations on a sounder footing--NOT!

Do you really think that Obama is going to tip his hat more to explain to the whiners on the right what is happening, just to placate those who will never be placated? The political gaffe is not as the right is depicting it; it is one of partial disclosure in an area where Obama is not free to divulge more information, thereby leaving himself open to the jackals from the right to munch away untrammeled, knowing that no additional information to clear up the confusion is likely to happen.

A perfect situation for the whiners and disinformation disseminators; a sad situation for our country.

Bladerunner 3 years, 4 months ago

But it's not what Rush or Sean is saying (ugly rumor). It's what Obama is saying. Would he dared say that in public? Of course not! A stab in the back of all Americans. Even you! Wake up!~

I was an Obama fan but 3 years of nothing has convinced me otherwise. There is no longer any "Hope".

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

The ever-mounting evidence demonstrates that Obama should have been impeached long ago. This latest scandal once again shows his willingness to sell America to its enemies.

Americans must remove Obama from office in November of 2012. Our survival as an independent nation may depend on it.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 4 months ago

"The sky is falling! The sky is falling!!!" Oh, wait. Wrong fairy tale.

guess_again 3 years, 4 months ago

huh?

Me, I am worried about activist judges:

"Conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature, diving deeply into policy details as if they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. ... The conservative justices were obsessed with weird hypotheticals. ... Liberals should learn from this display that there is no point in catering to today's hard-line conservatives. The individual mandate was a conservative idea that President Obama adopted to preserve the private market in health insurance rather than move toward a government-financed single-payer system. What he got back from conservatives was not gratitude but charges of socialism -- for adopting their own proposal.

"The irony is that if the court's conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system. Justice Anthony Kennedy even hinted that it might be more 'honest' if government simply used 'the tax power to raise revenue and to just have a national health service, single-payer.' Remember those words. ... the court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology."

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

The SC is not supposed to "defer" to the legislature.

It's supposed to judge the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of legislation.

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

"the court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power"

The House of Representatives... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment...

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.

Google it.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

Obviously, I'm referring to being legally independent, Einstein.

As in not part of a scheme of world government, which Obama and his pals would embrace in a heartbeat if they could get away with it.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

Are you saying that you would prefer that we abandon our national sovereignty in favor of a scheme of world government?

cashbox 3 years, 4 months ago

Sorry Cato. Bush and the Repugnants already sold us to China. You need to go back to your little hidy-hole and wait for the end of the world.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, Cashbox. Democrats and Republicans both eagerly ran up the debt that's held by China. You can't pick and choose. Debt is debt, whether it's debt for spending favored largely by Democrats or favored largely by Republicans.

You lose.

asixbury 3 years, 4 months ago

There is no scandal with the Russians. He stated he did not want to discuss such a tricky, complex subject right now, with this being election year. Read progressive_thinker's comment above. He makes much more sense than this "conspiracy theory" junk.

rhd99 3 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Sell-out-in-Chief APOLOGIZES to some of our enemies?! God help this nation and the voters who voted him in before if he gets re-elected. They were wrong then as they are now about this sham job of a president. Oh, by the way, Mr. Obama's economic polices are NOT helping because I just heard this AM on the news Claycomo is laying about 1200 + workers from its Ford plant. If that's economic recovery, wow, I'm impressed. NOT!

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps it would have been better for you to find out why Ford was laying off workers before assuming it was because of Obama's economic policies??

The fact is that Ford has been planning to do this (and announced they were doing it) since last year because...are you ready for this??? Because they need to retool the assembly line that currently builds the Ford Escape SUV so that they can build a new car there!!!

Care you admit you were wrong in your assumption?

As an aside, I'm not a big fan of the "Never admit you're wrong. Never change your mind" school of "thought". It seems incredibly counterproductive.

And, no...it doesn't make you weak, or even appear weak. The fact is that it takes strength of character to admit to admit to being wrong or having made a mistake.

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 4 months ago

I correct myself.

I should have written "for assuming that it was NEGATIVELY because of Obama's economic policies."

rhd99 3 years, 4 months ago

Ok, Acorn. Maybe I was wrong. I STILL fault the guy because 2 years ago, his stinken administration COST ME MY JOB as a federal contractor!! U happy now?!?!?!

Corey Williams 3 years, 4 months ago

And the cost cutting budgets of republicans would have let you keep it? Are you a defense contractor? Do you build prayer rooms in state capitols? Then I really doubt your position would have changed no matter who was in office.

rhd99 3 years, 4 months ago

NO to both of your questions!! Yes, under George W. Bush & the Republican Congress, I actually had a JOB as a federal contractor, not working for the defense industry!!!!

rhd99 3 years, 4 months ago

& by the way, the work I did had nothing to do with defense. You figure the rest out. My company was hired because the federal government couldn't do the job on its own!!! Now, speaking of cost cutting measures, how 'bout 7-8 thousand of our fellow Americans without jobs @ NASA thanks to this President, who is forcing Astronauts to pay for their own seats on a Russian Rocket!? What have you to say about THAT!? As far as federal contractors go, you better check your facts first before launching into something you don't understand!!!

cashbox 3 years, 4 months ago

I'll bet you are one of those little repugnants who want to cut Federal spending as long as it doesn't effect you.

rhd99 3 years, 4 months ago

QUIT your stinken name calling!! By the way, I'm pissed that this President didn't have the guts to tell the people @ NASA that HE was wrong about what he said about protecting their jobs back in 2008. IT doesn't effect me?! GET A LIFE!!

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely.

George Orwell was right on with 1984.

We were allied with Russia in WWII, then almost immediately became enemies afterwards. Germany and Japan were enemies, and now friendly nations. We supported Hussein in Iraq, and then he became an enemy. We trained the Taliban against the Soviets,...

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

Do you think we chose the right or wrong allies in the wars you reference?

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

I think the whole thing is suspect.

If alliances shift so quickly, what are they in reality?

The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thinking is flawed.

I think that we should find a better way to interact with the rest of the world, one that doesn't rely on continually shifting alliances, and wars.

Peacemaker452 3 years, 4 months ago

I am particularly fond of these two statements: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world" George Washington "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." Thomas Jefferson

cashbox 3 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Orwell 3 years, 4 months ago

Ahem.

"Oceania was at war with Eastasia : Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete."

Told ya.

pace 3 years, 4 months ago

Anyone who doesn't think a president has more options after being successfully reelected is plain stupid.

cardnation 3 years, 4 months ago

Obama is the first president to be elected because of his race! Everyone was excited to "make history"...well you made it, HISTORIC MISTAKE!!!! GOD help us all if he's reelected!

pace 3 years, 4 months ago

I am so sick of the rising acceptance of racism. No, I didn't vote for President Obama because of his race. Yes, many people voted for or against President Obama because of his race. But NO you are deluded.

cardnation 3 years, 4 months ago

Did anyone hear that the "Black Panther org" had put a price on Zimmerman's head?...hmmm look the KKK reborn! yet no public criticism. I'm kind of tired of the real racism not being admitted! "Black" t.v."Black" colleges-PURE RACISM-accepted! (Don't get me wrong, I don't understand why he's not been arrested)

cardnation 3 years, 4 months ago

thanks Vertigo, I appreciate the info.

dlkrm 3 years, 4 months ago

That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen posted on ljworld. Republicans voted against Obama because he's black? No, because he is wrong wrong wrong on so many things, is an avowed socialist/communist of the Alinsky/Piven/Ayers school, and genuinely hates this country. That's like saying democrats voted against Sarah Palin because she is a woman. Thanks for using the term Teabagger, too, it shows what a fine thinker you are.

booyalab 3 years, 3 months ago

I voted against him because he wasn't black enough.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 4 months ago

OK, I can accept that: Krauthammer and Sharpton are both shameless distorters for their respective political leanings. I can certainly ignore them both--can you?

progressive_thinker 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow, name calling and changing the subject.

No facts, no substance.

The usual we can expect from you math.

Yes, I am frequently skeptical of Sharpton as well. That does not diminish the fear mongering and distortion from Krauthammer,

booyalab 3 years, 4 months ago

"Not at all, spun a White House aide in major gaffe-control mode. The president was merely explaining that arms control is too complicated to be dealt with in a year in which both Russia and the U.S. hold presidential elections.

Rubbish. First of all, to speak of Russian elections in the same breath as ours is a travesty. Theirs was a rigged, predetermined farce. Putin ruled before. Putin rules after."

It's obvious, if Obama speaks about 'his election' in such certain terms, that his administration sees the U.S. election as predetermined as the Russia election.

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 4 months ago

"Chilling"?

Am I the only one that notices that Krauthammer seems to be using a lot of the same scare words too often?

He must have developed a long list of scare words to weave into all of his propaganda pieces in the way that Newt used to teach Republicans the art of brainwashing.

Perhaps it is time to get a new word list. Some of these are getting very redundant.

voevoda 3 years, 4 months ago

"White Russians"? Obama was not talking to the president of Belarus.

asixbury 3 years, 4 months ago

White Russians? When did The Dude get involved in all of this?

voevoda 3 years, 4 months ago

Obama did not tell Medvedev anything he didn't already know. Russian leaders understand the American political system a whole lot better than Americans understand the Russian political system. Yes, the issues can be solved; the question is whether the two countries decide to do so. Anyone who is worried about Russia's policies in the larger world ought to be 100% in favor of the US pursuing a stable relationship with the world's second most powerful military power. Krauthammer is advocating an irresponsible course of action.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

I didn't "hate" Bush.

I didn't think he was a very good president, though.

There's been some interesting research, which shows that conservatives tend to have a very developed part of the brain associated with fear, while liberals tend to have a very developed part associated with understanding complexity.

So, the world looks different to them - liberals see things as more complex, and don't immediately think of "enemies" we need to fear, while conservatives seem to go in that direction immediately.

I'm not saying one or the other is accurate - I don't know for sure. But, it's an interesting difference, and explains a lot of policy disagreements.

asixbury 3 years, 4 months ago

So bigots and narrow-mindedness is normal? Oh wait, I forgot for a minute that I lived in Kansas. Kansas, as bigoted as you think!

Corey Williams 3 years, 4 months ago

And Bush's track record speaks for itself: Bush demanded N. Korea dismantle it's nuclear plant that was producing enriched uranium. They did, but in such a way that they then could dust it off and bring it back online.
He certainly was tough on Iran's nuclear programs. Which is why they're gone now. Oh wait...never mind. He certainly got tough with Saddam, though. For absolute no reason whatsoever.
And he got rid of the Taliban. For a little while, at least.
And he definitely got Cuba to change it's ways.
I'm just glad he was so successful in all that he did.

Kirk Larson 3 years, 4 months ago

I know the conservatives would rather we unilaterally invade Iran and Syria, but the truth is we need the Russians to cooperate with us so we can deal with these problems diplomatically. The star wars/anti-missle systems have always been rather hinky so it's not like we would be giving up anything that really worked. Every President has had this same problem: idiots during an election year.

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 4 months ago

I don't think the word "Liberaltine" is going to last because it reminds me too much of "Ovaltine" which is a breakfast drink for kids.

Maybe someone should make a healthy drink from vegetables and call it "Liberaltine".

Politics is much about words and twisting their meanings. In Kansas, we have a new word called "Kochheads" which I think has potential.

Kirk Larson 3 years, 4 months ago

Or perhaps "Kochfiends" for that more evil connotation.

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 4 months ago

LOL...yes, I think the potential for derivatives is great.

All of the Kansas lawmakers assembled in the chamber had a "chilling Koch like stare", like zombies caring for nothing but their next blood meal.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 4 months ago

Typical teapublican overreaction. They see scandal, corruption, conspiracy in everything Obama does.

Leave one in the clip, ferchrissakes!

camper 3 years, 4 months ago

Krauthamer is a propaganda writer out to make a paycheck. So despite the fact that he uses a word such as "chilling" nor will I even bother to read his piece. He has no credibility in my opinion.

So knowing that the US and Russia can destroy mankind as we know it if missles are launched, it is most critical to not listen to proven Propagandists such as Krautsteinhammer.

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