In its early days, the Obama administration was almost unbelievably arrogant. A prime example is the “reset button” which Hillary Clinton presented to Russia’s foreign minister, intending to assure the Russians that the stupid days of the Bush administration were over, to be followed by Obama’s “smart diplomacy.” As it turned out, the word “reset” was misspelled in Russian–the Russian word on the button means “overcharge”–but in those heady days the press gave Hillary a pass.
Now Barack and Hillary have found that things aren’t so simple, and Hillary is warning against Russia’s attempt to re-establish the Soviet Union, exactly the concern that motivated the Bush-Cheney policy toward Russia, as Dick Cheney explained to us on one memorable evening in 2005:
The US is trying to prevent Russia from recreating a new version of the Soviet Union under the ruse of economic integration, Hillary Clinton warned on Thursday.
“There is a move to re-Sovietise the region,” the US secretary of state told a news conference in Dublin hours before going into a meeting with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. …
Mrs Clinton said efforts at regional hegemony had been accompanied by new campaigns of repression from pro-Moscow regimes throughout the former Soviet Union. Her tone signalled that the US was rethinking its “reset” in relations with Russia, declared in 2009, during which criticism of its human rights record has been muted and Moscow appeared to have a freer hand in the former Soviet region.
So, one wonders: what was Hillary’s first clue? Was it Ukraine? Georgia? We are going back several years here. What took the Obama administration so long to figure out that Vladimir Putin and his confederates are up to no good? As recently as March of this year, Obama was assuring Russia’s president that after the election he would have more “flexibility” to give away the store on missile defense. So what has changed since then?
For obvious reasons, we and most other critics have focused primarily on the Obama administration’s economic failures over the last couple of years. But Obama’s foreign policy has also been remarkably inept, a fact that is highly relevant now and may be equally relevant in 2016, if Hillary Clinton decides to try to return Bill to the White House.