One thing you can say for Barack Obama, he knows who his enemies are: Great Britain, Israel, the newly free East European countries, Honduras, Colombia. America’s friends in general. Republicans, of course, above all. Thus, in Prague to celebrate the execution of a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, Obama explained the treaty as a victory over his bitterest enemy, George W. Bush:
I also came to office committed to “resetting” relations between the United States and Russia, and I know that President Medvedev shared that commitment. As he said at our first meeting in London, our relationship had started to drift, making it difficult to cooperate on issues of common interest to our people. And when the United States and Russia are not able to work together on big issues, it’s not good for either of our nations, nor is it good for the world.
Together, we’ve stopped that drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation.
So the Russians have always been reasonable, and once Bush was out of the picture, the “drift” stopped. Of course, the “drift” consisted mostly of the fact America’s security interests coincided with Europe’s, so that we agreed with several European nations to install missile defense systems on their soil. These systems were aimed at Iran, not Russia, but Putin didn’t like them anyway, since he and his constituents, Russia’s oligarchs and gangsters, want to dominate Eastern Europe. Hence the “drift.” Thanks to Obama, the “drift” is over, and America no longer represents a serious obstacle to Russia’s expansionist impulses. President Medvedev made the connection explicit:
We have appreciated the steps by the current U.S. administration in terms of the decisions in the area of anti-missile defense of the present administration, and this has led to progress.
Right. Medvedev held out the hope of a future, world-wide anti-missile system:
We offered to the United States that we help them establish a global anti-missile defense system, and we should think about this, given the vulnerability of our world, the terrorist challenges and the possibility of using nuclear arms by terrorists existing in this world.
And I am an optimist, as well as my American colleague, and I believe that we will be able to reach compromise on these issues.
So Obama traded an anti-missile system that exists for one that doesn’t, but that we should “think about.” No wonder he is popular with Russia’s leaders!