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In Putin We Trust?
AFPC ^ | 9/20/2012 | Lawrence J. Haas

Posted on 09/29/2012 10:58:00 PM PDT by bruinbirdman

With Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to expel the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, from his country, perhaps Washington can finally set aside its ill-founded belief -- through presidencies of both parties -- that U.S. leaders can build productive ties to Moscow's strongman.

Our leaders do this from time to time -- convince themselves they can change the ways of an authoritarian ruler and, through a mix of logic, sweet talk, and carrots, convince him to do what we'd like.

For decades, for instance, presidents of both parties nourished hopes of convincing Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad (who leveled a town and killed thousands of innocent people in a collective punishment for a terrorist attack in 1982) and then his son Bashar (who's now slaughtering his own people) to turn to the West and make peace with Israel.

More recently, the focus of our affection has been Putin, the ex-KGB official who has increasingly returned Russia's once-burgeoning democracy to an authoritarian state with declining regard for human rights and political freedoms.

Early in his term, President George W. Bush famously said of Putin, "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country."

Then came President Barack Obama, who sought to "reset" Washington's ties with Moscow after the friction of the later Bush years and nourish a warmer relationship through which the two governments could work more cooperatively.

Ah, hope. Ah, naivety.

Putin's no advocate of democracy and human rights, no fan of the United States, and no likely partner on the world stage.

In 2005, he called the Soviet Union's collapse "the greatest geopolitical disaster of the last century." Two years later, he blasted the U.S. at an international security conference in Munich for its "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations" that "bring[s] us to the abyss of one conflict after another."

On the domestic front, Putin has shown little patience for any potential challenges to his authority.

Since his return as president in May after four years as prime minister, "there has been an across-the-board crackdown on civil society and the opposition. Beyond the show trial of members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot, authorities have raided the homes of government critics and their family members, conducted criminal investigations and prosecutions of opposition figures and their spouses, and used brutal force against protesters," Freedom House President David J. Kramer wrote in the Washington Post.

Under Putin, Moscow has boosted penalties for public disorder, libel, and slander, and Russia's parliament recently passed a law that will force all nonprofit groups that receive money from outside of Russia to register as foreign agents.

Nevertheless, even after Putin's decision to send USAID packing, Washington is apparently staying the same tired course, holding its tongue in the misbegotten hope that we can still work with him.

We have lodged no formal protest of his action, which ends two decades of USAID work in post-Soviet Russia, which will force more than a dozen U.S. diplomats to head home, and which will severely undercut the democracy-building efforts of such non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, as Golos, an election monitoring organization that has worked closely with USAID since 2002.

"This is a sovereign decision that any country makes, whether they want to have U.S. assistance through AID," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, making it all sound so routine and acceptable.

And what has all this public tongue-biting and private cajoling brought us?

In response to Moscow's loud complaints, Obama reconfigured U.S. plans for a missile defense system, which was designed to protect our European allies against the threat of an Iranian attack, in hopes of securing Moscow's support for tough U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Nevertheless, while continuing to complain about our missile defense system and threaten retaliation, Moscow has joined with Beijing to persistently thwart U.S. efforts to impose the tighter sanctions that might -- might -- prompt Tehran to reconsider whether its nuclear pursuit is worth the effort.

Meanwhile, despite endless U.S. cajoling, Putin has refused to pressure Syria's al-Assad to end his slaughter, leaving Washington with the look of a declining power and with a foreign policy toward Syria that it has essentially subcontracted to a Russian autocrat.

In holding our tongues, we have broken faith with the tens of thousands of Russians who have taken to the streets over the last year to protest Putin's crackdown and demand more freedom.

We really need to give up the ghost on this one.

Vladimir Putin's a thug. Let's stop pretending otherwise.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events

1 posted on 09/29/2012 10:58:04 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
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To: bruinbirdman

And he is laughing at us.

2 posted on 09/29/2012 11:01:50 PM PDT by Ronin (Dumb, dependent and Democrat is no way to go through life - Rep. L. Gohmert, Tex)
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To: bruinbirdman

3 posted on 09/29/2012 11:15:51 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: bruinbirdman

An interesting read.
Strangely enough, I didn’t consider Russia an enemy until Obama’s term. It seems that under the wimpy Obozo, Putin has seen his chance to consolidate power while America cries. We can now not hesitate when adding Putin’s regime in Russia to our list of enemies which seems to grow every year.
Let’s see.

In Latin America, we have Chavez’ puppet show of banana republics, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina, all of which are cooperating with Islamic radicals under orders from Venezuela.

In Asia, we have our traditional enemies, the Chicoms and Kim Jong Un’s Norks, emboldened by our weakness. Let’s not leave out Pakistan who actively harbor terrorists and continue to leech off of our aid money.

In Africa, we have the bug-eating dictators in Sudan and Eritrea, not to mention the failing states of Somalia, Mali and now apparently Libya as well, all acting as havens for radicals. At least Egypt is still our ally. Oh, no. We threw our ally there under the bus. Now they are controlled by the Muztard Brotherhood.

In the ME, our old adversary Iran marches onward to nuclear weapons while their Syrian ally, Assad, slaughters his own people. Afghanistan remains a hellhole. Yemen is another failed state full of frothing-at-the-mouth Jihadis.

It’s enough to petrify you at the thought of a second Soetero term. Meanwhile, Putin is laughing all the way to the Gulag as he trucks in the latest batch of dissidents. Soon, his soldiers will be on the march. Be prepared. Dark skies on the horizon and war is in the air.

4 posted on 09/29/2012 11:48:00 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: Viennacon

Send more aid.

5 posted on 09/30/2012 5:38:37 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (In the game of life, there are no betting limits)
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To: bruinbirdman

——Ah, hope. Ah, naivety.——

The reality is that Putin has the near impossible task of saving Mother Russia from total collapse and destruction.

With a male population that is alcoholic, with the economy in the hands of communist oligarchs that stashed the money in Switzerland, with a female population refusing to procreate, with an old person being 51, with foreign investment dried up and untrusting, with the young people imitating the west in all but the working part........ how do you conduct a salvage operation?

Russia is a rusting old derelict freighter listing in the harbor, with so many dangerous problems it could sink tomorrow.

6 posted on 09/30/2012 5:48:17 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
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To: bruinbirdman; All

Why the USA still has USAID is perplexing. We do not have the money to fund it....and it is mainly supported politically by Free Trade Communist Globalists to re-distribute our American wealth to our enemies, via $$$ given to businesses to take jobs and products out of the US

If you stopped USAID, the biggest complaints will come from Free Trader Commie Globalists...and their friends in the UN, World Bank, IMF, DNC, EU, etc...

7 posted on 09/30/2012 6:27:28 AM PDT by SeminoleCounty (Political maturity is realizing that the "R" next to someone's name does not mean "conservative")
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To: Viennacon
You need to first look at the NGO/Civil Society in the former soviet states. The Orange Revolution, Velvet Revolution, etc and what part US govt money and George Soros money played in that. Then recognize that the Ukraine shifted back to Russia and they got their 50 year naval base lease renewed. Also the shift back in Georgia and and Saskiavilli could lose his re-election tomorrow.

And what part the NGOs played in the Arab Spring. Those NGOers are still in jail in Egypt. It didn't help when John McCain sent the Tweet to Putin mocking Putin that the Arab Spring was coming to Russia.

Russia and China has all this figured out.

Last century it was about mideast oil and the Suez canal, but now also central Asia and those two are now known as the Strategic Energy Ellipse aka the Gulf-Caspian Ellipse.

Who controls the production, pipelines, shipping. Who controls the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea or who controls the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and who controls the Suez Canal. Keep in mind that Turkey, Syria, Israel, Iran, and the US haven't ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty, but there may be a Senate ratification vote in the lame duck session.

8 posted on 09/30/2012 6:33:33 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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