Tag archives: Russia

America’s Amateur Hour on Foreign Policy

by Chris Gacek

March 31, 2014

The disaster that is the Obama foreign policy continues to unfold week by week. While engaging in unilateral military disarmament, our president imitates a wrecking ball destroying decades of American alliances, relationships, and strengths. It is difficult to recall any significant Obama accomplishments, but, at the least, one could hope that he might have a “minimize the harm” operational code. Not a chance.

On March 25th in a speech at the Hague (Netherlands), President Obama made this statement: “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength but out of weakness.” What a ludicrously provocative statement.

Right, Mr.President, Russiais a regional power. Unfortunately, it is a region that extends from the Bering Strait to the Baltic Sea while bordering on the Arctic Ocean, Mongolia, China, and many numerous Eurasian nations. It has a population of 142 million. Finally, thanks to you, Russia has 500 more nuclear warheads than the United States — at about 8,500. Russia is an ancient civilization noted for great scientific and artistic achievement that is anchored by a state church that traces its roots to the Byzantine Empire. Russia is no run-of-the-mill “regional power” under any serious analysis. Russia has been a major world actor for centuries, and it remains so even after 1990.

I have no sympathy for a crypto-communist sociopath like Putin, but Obama’s statement was needlessly insulting and demeaning to Putin and Russia itself. If we were trying to alienate the Russian people, could this statement have been any more effective? Probably not. It is the mark of an amateur — someone who is not a serious analyst of history and foreign policy. Underestimating an enemy is never wise.

And, this leads to Obama’s comically liberal and obtuse crack about the conquest of Crimea being the accomplishment of a weak power. The president appears to be patterning his opposition to Russia on the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. As the Black Knight has his limbs hacked off by King Arthur, he refuses to admit that he is being seriously injured. However, the Black Knight talks a good game, and in Obama’s world that’s all that really matters, isn’t it.

Will Snowden Look into Putin’s Eyes?

by Robert Morrison

July 12, 2013

Former NSA contactor Edward Snowden wouldn’t be the first American to try to get “a sense of his soul” by looking hopefully into Vladimir Putin’s eyes. In June 2001, President George W. Bush told the world he had done that at their first summit meeting and had seen a good man there. That summer, the famous Russian dissident author, Vladimir Bukovsky was asked what he thought Mr. Bush might see looking into Putin’s eyes. “I have looked into many a KGB agent’s eyes and have not found anything particularly soulful there,” the writer and veteran of the Soviet Gulag deadpanned. It was Bukovsky’s sly way of reminding his credulous American listeners that Vladimir Putin is what he has always been: A tough adversary and a trained agent of the dreaded KGB.

Now, the young (just turned 30) American exile is living in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport under the watchful eye of the Russian security services. President Bush soon came to a more realistic assessment of good man Volodya. Edward Snowden may yet get a chance to look into those soulful eyes. And Snowden may provide a new twist on an old phrase—marry in haste, repent in leisure. Snowden may show us that defecting in haste can give one the leisure to repent.

Despite urgent pleas from the Obama administration that Snowden be turned over to U.S. authorities, the Russians have stonewalled our diplomatic overtures. On July 1st, President Putin said Snowden could stay in Russia, but only if he stopped “harming our American partners” with his leaks of sensitive security information. Putin himself noted it must seem strange for him to be shedding Krokodil tears over harm to the U.S.

The only thing that might be said for Snowden’s public disclosures is that they are public. That means that the U.S. intelligence services will know what he is releasing and presumably can take countermeasures. If and when Snowden is granted asylum in Russia, he will be strongly urged to stop “harming” the U.S. by his public statements.

From that point on, Snowden would do all his talking behind closed doors. And perhaps behind closed and locked doors. The Russian slang word for this is zyek. It stands for zaklyoochenyi—the locked away ones. Then, Russian agents would hear whatever he had to say and Americans would not be able to counter.

For Putin to call us his “American partners” is richly ironic. From the day President Obama sought to “re-set” our relations with Moscow, President Putin has been taking Mr. Obama’s measure. Re-setting meant letting the Russians take a pass on ripping an arm off the Republic of Georgia, so recently freed from Moscow’s control. Then, there was the withdrawal of the U.S. offers on missile defense to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Obama team did that, we were told, to reassure Russia of our good intentions and to obtain Russia’s help in restraining Tehran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.

In this case, the road to Moscow was paved with Mr. Obama’s good intentions. In the past four years, Russia has been nothing but a thorn in our side. With North Korea. With Iran. And now with Syria.

It is indeed a terrible thing to watch as this misguided young man, Edward Snowden, pulls the pin from a hand grenade. As bright as he obviously is, he is a babe in the Moscow woods. He has no idea what lies in his future.

He may well get a headline or two in the ever-hungry Western media. Sometime this fall, he may show up at the Moscow Circus. Then, at the New Year, he might get a blurb while plunging into the frigid waters of the Neva River, a favorite winter pastime of hardy Muscovites. And then, slowly, he will fade from the TV screens.

With no new and interesting revelations to offer as chum to the media, he will have stopped harming the Americans and will soon be old news. And then will come the future. The long, gray future.

Once upon a time, American schoolchildren read Edward Everett Hale’s short story, “A Man without a Country.” In that Civil War era work, a young Army officer, Philip Nolan, becomes ensnared in the 1805 Burr conspiracy. Court martialed for treason, he bursts out: “Damn the United States! I never want to hear the name of the United States again!” DONE, say his judges. And they sentence him to spend the rest of his life on board American naval vessels, never setting foot on land, never hearing “the United States.” It’s a powerful and touching story, the more so since it was written at the time of the greatest rebellion against the United States. One of the most moving parts of this story has an aging Philip Nolan reading to the ships’ officers and ladies a portion of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lay of the Last Minstrel.” Suddenly, he comes upon this passage:

Breathes there the man with soul so dead?

Who never to himself hath said,?

This is my own, my native land!?

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,?

As home his footsteps he hath turned?

From wandering on a foreign strand!

Americans today are doubtless too cool to be much moved by Philip Nolan’s breakdown on reading those lines. But if Edward Snowden defects and is ever able to read that story, he will understand them. And he will repent in leisure.

Russia’s Tragic Ban on U.S. Adoptions

by Cathy Ruse

January 15, 2013

On December 28, 2012 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law banning intercountry adoption with the United States.  National Council for Adoption President Chuck Johnson calls the decision tragic.

I have three close friends who braved the lengthy, expensive, and emotional ordeal to adopt children from Russia. One is a single mom who adopted a baby boy. He and my oldest daughter practically grew up together. The other friends are a married couple who adopted an older boy and a younger girl. These children gained parents, siblings, and unparalleled opportunity in the most free nation on Earth. I can’t help but imagine how all of their lives, our lives, would be different if these adoptions had never been able to take place.

For more information, visit the National Council for Adoption’s website.

Eleven Days that Shook the World

by Robert Morrison

October 12, 2009

President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for 2009. His nomination had to have been entered by February 1st of this year. At that point, as many incredulous pundits have noted, he had been President for just eleven days. Fast work.

Many commentators have ridiculed the choice. Gobsmacked, wrote the Washington Posts serious liberal foreign policy columnist, Jim Hoagland. He employed a British slang term for slack-jawed in utter amazement. Liberal writer Ruth Marcus likened the award to Pee-Wee Soccer, where every child gets a trophy just for playing. The New York Times house conservative, David Brooks, jeered that Obama should have won all of this years prizes, including those for economics and literature. Even for chemistry. After all, Obamas personal chemistry may be his greatest contribution to the world.

Newsweeks Howard Fineman called Obama President of the Earth and said he would accept in Oslo in December. Even long-time Obama promoters were hard-pressed to see the award as anything but miraculous—an effort, perhaps, by the Nobel Prize selection committee—Norwegian Leftists all—to create their own version of the Burning Bush. Saturday Night Live had fun. Their Obama lookalike noted that he had only nine months of experience not being George Bush.

The idea behind all the jokes seems to be that the award was premature. Most Obama supporters think hes headed in the right direction. Their Left-wing predecessors used to describe communists as liberals in a hurry. Behind the guffaws and the gasps—the press claque in Oslo audibly gasped when the name was announced—is the shared view that Obamas new emphasis on the UN, on multi-lateralism, on disarmament, on an open hand instead of a clenched fist, on bowing before Saudi despots and on accepting mash notes from Latin American dictators, that Obama is taking the world where it truly wants to go. That road, that well-trod path, is being paved with their good intentions.

But eleven days is enough to shake the world. Ten days was once enough. In 1919, an American book appeared. Ten Days that Shook the World was the breathless chronicle of the Bolshevik Revolution written by John Reed. Young Jack Reed was a Leftist journalist, a 1910 graduate of Harvard, and a passionate supporter of the communists in Petrograd. Reed was on scene in Russias capital for some of the most important events of that bloody century. When John Reed died, Lenin ordered that his body be buried inside the Kremlin, the only American so honored.

Reed did not live to see what became of his Ten Days that Shook the World. The Bolshevik Revolution resulted in the greatest tyranny the world has ever known. The Heritage Foundation is currently showing a series of fifty paintings by Nikolai Getman. Getman was a Ukrainian prisoner who served eight years in the Gulag. Gulag is not a word that President Barack Obama has ever used in public. It is a Russian acronym for state administration for camps.

These camps, however, were not just summer camps. They were summer-fall-winter-spring camps. Some of them, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained in his majesterial Gulag Archipelago, were like islands within Lenins and Stalins Soviet Union, islands as big as France. Others were as small as a telephone booth. All of them had one thing in common: In the Gulag, a person was swallowed up whole. Tens of millions of people disappeared into the Gulag during the life of the Soviet Union.

Barack Obama is not the only one who has never mentioned the Gulag. The UN has never mentioned it. Nor has Hollywood.

The Heritage Foundations exhibit is stunning. Visitors can see the luminous painting of the artists brother, Alexander Getman, being led down the last mile by two NKVD officers. Young Alexander was shot on 1 December 1934. In his brothers depiction, young Alexanders eyes stare at the viewer, accusingly. He is barefooted, his white prison clothes glow as if Alexander is headed for his own Transfiguration. He is.

Some paintings depict diamond miners and gold miners. They are zeks, slaving away in sub-zero cold. Uranium mining, one of the captions tells us, is a death sentence. Those zeks will be killed by radiation. Zek is short for zaklucheniye—the locked up ones.

Waiting to be shot is another jarring painting. The zeks huddled in the prison yard are emaciated but show no panic. It is dark. We see only the back of the NKVD officer with the gun. The only spot of color in the painting is the incongruous sky-blue cap the killer wears.

It is not all horror. A young Chukchi prisoner must just have been sentenced. He is cheerful, smoking a cigarette, and warming himself by a camp fire. Chukchis are Asian tribesmen. This smiling lad has gotten ten years for saying Yankee is good. They may be the only Russian words this Siberian native knows. Were still waiting for Barack Obama to say Yankee is good.

The Nobel Committee has occasionally recognized men and women who stood up against Soviet tyranny. They gave Solzhenitsyn the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature—and may have thereby saved the dissident writers life. They awarded the Peace Prize to Andrei Sakharov, the Russian human rights advocate and to Lech Walesa, the leader of Polands first free labor union, Solidarity.

Too often, however, the Nobel Committee has dishonored itself by giving Peace Prizes to politically correct figures. Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam got it for a peace agreement that was being massively violated before the ink was dry. Tens of thousands of boat people were forced to leave Vietnam, willing to face death on the high seas rather than live under Le Duc Thos brutal communist masters. They would doubtless have filed a minority report on that Nobel vote.

The Nobel Committee also gave a Peace Prize to Yassir Arafat. Arafats citation fails to mention that he invented airline hijacking for terrorism, or that he personally ordered the murder of U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel. Ambassador Noel was not finished off with a quick shot to the head, either. Arafats henchman shot him in the legs, the groin, the gut, the chest, all the way up his body. There is some justice in the world. though. When Hamas terrorists overran Arafats home in Gaza, several years after his death, they stole his Nobel Peace Prize. They probably melted down the gold medal for guns.

Against all this terror and tyranny, murder and oppression, the UN has had little to say. The Nobel Prize Committee, at a loss, gave a Peace Prize to the UN and to Kofi Annan, who did nothing to stop genocide in Rwanda, who presided over the biggest money scandal in history, the infamous oil for food ripoff. At least they were not George Bush.

Barack Obamas first eleven days in January were not uneventful. He ordered U.S. taxpayers to subsidize International Planned Parenthood Federation, the worlds largest trafficker in abortion. Obama also ordered U.S. taxpayers to back the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). This outfit helps Chinas rulers to enforce their one-child policy. Throughout the world each year, fifty million abortions take place, with Planned Parenthood beating the drums. And in China since the 1970s, fifty million abortions have been done forcibly.

When you read what the UN has done, what the Soviet Union did, what the Nobel Prize Committee has honored, Barack Obamas Nobel Peace Prize does not seem so out of place. His eleven days were not so unproductive. It remains to be seen who will chronicle the rest of his rule.

Id like to take President Obama on a tour of the Gulag Collection at the Heritage Foundation.

Its just down the street from the White House and it might be the best thing he could do for peace.