Hope springs eternal, I suppose. The major media continues to hope that the public has the memory of gerbil… or maybe a lobster. I suspect, however, that the Democrats may discover that the voting public has the claws of a lobster come this November. Nevertheless, when you ordain a president based on hope, I suppose no one should be surprised if you evaluate his efforts from the standpoint of hope. But hope is about all you have, despite your opinion that after Two big wins, a presidency <is> transformed for Obama:
Two big wins for Barack Obama at home and abroad — a historic health care bill and a new arms treaty with Russia — have injected sudden momentum into a presidency that had been looking beleaguered.
Well, yes, the health bill was historic, in the sense of a politically suicidal Congress ramming something through that 70% of the public really didn’t want, with naked bribery that would be illegal if a anyone else did it.
“What a week here,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs wrote on his twitter feed, as Obama concluded a new strategic arms reduction treaty in a call with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday.
What a week indeed. As far as can be determined at this time, the cuts to which Russia agreed are in the area of strategic weapons only. That means that battlefield and tactical nukes aren’t affected… and Russia has a great preponderance of those. It is those weapons that are a bigger threat to Europe, former Soviet satellites, and the Middle East, since they are all Russia has to counter its relative weakness in conventional weapons, compared to its Cold War heyday (though Putin is building up again, and fast, to try to recover the conventional strength that Yeltsin squandered, from their point of view). Russia has plainly signaled its intent to use its possession of the main oil pipe into Europe (in the Georgia invasion) to control the Euro-powers. Russia wants to regain its superpower status. Putin is not a peace maker, unless it temporarily serves his larger purpose, which is expansion and power.
Biggest concern: will Russia use this to get the USA to make cuts that matter, while Russia simply decommissions aging technology that may not be working too well anyway? Second biggest concern: how much of that aging nuclear technology and fissile material will be safely decommissioned into secure storage, and how much will mysteriously evaporate into the ether, maybe showing up on the black market?
It is risible that Putin and Medvedev would agree to ANYTHING that they didn’t believe strengthened them and weakened the USA in relative terms. The US media (and, I fear, the US State Department) don’t seem to grasp the distinction between a piece of paper and actual peace. North Korea has agreed to all kinds of things, and the media have hailed the negotiations that produced the agreements, and then had abrupt memory loss when North Korea reneged, leading to calls in the media for more negotiations. Review the definition of insanity. The Soviet Union, we now know (based partly on KGB files opened to the public after the collapse of the old regime), bent most arms agreements we ever made with them, when they could. Putin regrets the passing of that brutal state, and is doing his best to emulate its power-grasping tendencies.
Putin has been busy rehabilitating Stalin in the minds of the Russian public. Does anyone actually think that Putin/Medvedev are signing agreements either out of fear of US nuclear preemption (about as likely as the US nuking Mexico), or out of altruism and the desire for international amity (maybe they should get Nobel Prizes)? If you are one who harbors either belief, I have a nice property with an in-ground swimming pool in Siberia that I’d love to sell you. The pool isn’t heated…. but with global warming heating up Siberia, all you really have to worry about is rampaging polar bears looking for an ice floe to surf on.
No doubt Obama supporters will claim that the new agreement has strong verification protocols built in. Maybe. But Russia is a big, big country. Obama has been busy cutting our space program, our military and our intelligence agencies. Exactly what resources will he use to verify that Russia isn’t holding out the same way the Soviets did? Those agreements had “verification” built in, too.
In six days, two of the biggest projects of Obama’s presidency came to fruition after months of painstaking work, transforming the image of an administration that had swung hard but failed to connect on big agenda items.
He has STILL failed to connect on the government takeover of health-care. Don’t confuse holding hostages with hitting home-runs.
In any case, the public really hasn’t evinced much concern about Russian nukes lately, though doubtless the media will try to pump this “achievement” up into something deserving of the prematurely awarded Nobel Peace Prize. I suppose my problem with this is simple: Obama has not built up any trust in his ability to tell our friends from our enemies. He is captive of the moral equivalence view that American objectives are no worthier than Russian ones. At bottom, he does not believe in American exceptionalism, so he cannot defend American interests with a whole heart. After all, we’re no better than anyone else.
By Friday, Obama could savor the spectacle of the pundits he frequently decries, switching from a “this presidency is over” mantra, to hailing him as a conquering domestic president and a global statesmen.
Yeah, and come next November he could be savoring that lobster we talked about. The claws, that is. Now, that would be a change worth hoping for.