On the global stage where the perception of strength is just as important as the reality of it, President Putin of Russia has made President Obama look like a hapless wimp. No, wait. That’s not entirely accurate. President Obama was already a hapless wimp. President Putin simply confirmed the fact and revealed it to the rest of the world. Barack Obama came into the presidency with the naïve belief that he could simply extend the hand of friendship to brutal dictators around the world and then sit down and reason with them. For example, consider his recent unilateral reopening of Cuba while that country remains a communist state ruled by a dictator that subjugates his people.
What Obama should have learned from his days in Chicago is that bullies—whether they lead street gangs or aggressive nations—are immune to reason. The only time a bully appeals to reason is when he is losing and wants to salvage as much as he can of what he has left. In their relations with others, bullies respect only one thing: strength. Not only does President Obama lack the strength needed to lead a superpower nation, he operates under the misconception that talking constitutes action. The man is all words, and our enemies know it. Unfortunately for America and the rest of the free world, Putin and his ilk are not impressed by words. Practical, forceful action or at least the plausible threat of it is the only thing that gets their attention.
When the Soviet Union imploded, it was supposed to be the Russians who were weak and on the defensive. Actually the Russians did struggle with their new lesser status for a while, but then America elected Barack Obama and, to paraphrase an old song: What a difference a president can make. The election of Barack Obama changed everything about the relative status of America and Russia on the global stage. It also sent U.S./Russian relations into a tailspin. Two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, bilateral relations are back to where they were during the bad old days of the Cold War—frosty, combative, and inherently distrustful. Further, the personal relationship between Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, and the current resident of the White House has devolved into something resembling not two-bulls-in-the-same-pasture, but one bull and one sheep. The relationship between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama resembles that of Nikita Kruschev and President Kennedy during their first meeting; a meeting in which Kruschev ate Kennedy’s lunch. Kruschev’s perception of Kennedy as weak eventually led to those 13 tension-filled days known as the Cuban missile crisis.
History buffs will recall that the major bone of contention between Kruschev and Kennedy was Berlin, a contention made more real by the wall that ran down the center of that beleaguered city. On one side of the wall—West Berlin—there were freedom and prosperity. On the other side—East Berlin—there was only tyranny and destitution. West Berlin was America’s ally while East Berlin was a Soviet slave. Kruschev respected and even feared Kennedy’s predecessor, President Eisenhower, but his first face-to-face meeting with Kennedy convinced the bombastic communist leader that America’s new president was a wimp. This perception of America’s president emboldened Kruschev to install nuclear missiles just 90 miles off the coast of Florida on the island of Cuba, a Soviet minion state. Fortunately for America President Kennedy turned out to have more backbone than his Soviet counterpart gave him credit for. If only the same could be said for President Obama, but it can’t.
Here is what Peter Brookes, writing for TOWNHALL, December, 2014 had to say about Putin’s perception of President Obama as a wimp: “But worst of all, evolved Russian views of American strength and resolve increases the chances of misperceptions, miscalculations, maneuvers, and mistakes by Moscow, resulting in problems that might have been prevented otherwise. Indeed, we are already seeing them.” Indeed we are. For example, I doubt the Soviet leaders would have given sanctuary to Edward Snowden, the National Security contractor who stole some of America’s most sensitive intelligence, if Ronald Reagan or Dwight D. Eisenhower were still president. In fact, I doubt Putin would have dared annex Crimea and threaten Ukraine if Reagan or Eisenhower were still in office.
Russian rulers are like wolves, sharks, or urban gangbangers. Weakness just emboldens them. Once again, consider what Brookes wrote about appearing weak to a Russian leader: “The problem is that while Team Obama wanted to show goodwill, seek compromise, look conciliatory, and be anything but Bush (George W.) in its relations with the Medvedev-Putin regime, the approach came across as weakness, a major fault in dealing with the Russians who, more than anything else respect strength.” If anything, Brookes has understated his case. Even a cursory review of how his predecessors dealt with Russia would have shown President Obama that trying to be conciliatory would just lead to aggression on Russia’s part. Kennedy’s conciliatory attitude upon first meeting Kruschev is what eventually led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
When Kruschev finally relented and pulled his nuclear missiles out of Cuba, it wasn’t because President Kennedy had reasoned with him. It was because Kruschev had come to realize that Kennedy had more courage and resolve than the communist leader had previously thought. As a result, he feared what Kennedy might do if did not pull the missiles out. When it comes to his dealings with President Obama, Vladimir Putin has no reason to fear anything and he knows it. Putin understands that Obama is just a hollow suit who makes a lot of noise but lacks the resolve to take any kind of meaningful, decisive action. Putin figured Obama out a long time ago. He knows that the most aggressive stance Obama is likely to take when Putin flexes his muscles is to file a complaint with the U.N. Hence, Putin’s piratical annexation of Crimea and his on-going excursions into Eastern Ukraine. e knowsHe
At the beginning of his first term, Obama endeavored to “reset” U.S./Russian relations, but it has been Vladimir Putin who has done the resetting. Relations with Russia have certainly been reset, but not for the better. Putin is an audacious bully who knows his chief adversary is a wimp. When bullies know they are facing a wimp, they become more adventurous. If you want evidence of this contention, consider the following examples. Who can forget Obama’s infamous “redline” drawn in the sand in Syria? With the backing of Vladimir Putin, the tyrant in Damascus was emboldened to simply ignore the imaginary line and continue slaughtering his own people, which he continues to do to even now. How about the Malaysian airliner shot down by the Russians, killing 298 innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the Ukrainian conflict? Obama’s response? Words. How about the fact that Russian bombers have tripled their incursions into American air space during Putin’s time in office, an intentional provocation to see how Obama will react? And how has the president reacted? By cutting America’s defense budget to the bone.
I have said it before and I will say it again here. Barack Obama’s apparent fecklessness and incompetence, particularly in foreign affairs, are just an act. This president knows exactly what he is doing. Barack Obama is just a latter day disciple of his father—a communist dedicated to tearing down the old colonial nations. Through inherited paternal bias and a woeful ignorance of history, Obama includes the United States in that group of nations. No person who has completed third grade could be as incompetent, naïve, and hapless as Barack Obama has been during his presidency. Consequently, the logical conclusion to be drawn is that he is purposely trying to destroy America and everything it stands for. As to the “wimp factor,” it actually serves his purpose. If Obama has to endure wearing the wimp label when compared with Vladimir Putin, it seems to be a price he is willing to pay. After all, a negative perception in the world’s eyes will just embolden America’s enemies to pitch in and help Barack Obama do what he has been trying to all along: destroy America.