It was apparent from Day One that President Barack Obama was out of his depth in any confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Remember the red “reset” button? It was bad enough as a one-liner, but for the Obama Administration to actually hand the Russians a button that they thought said “reset” in Russian but actually said “overcharge” was the first of many clear signals to Putin that he could mop the floor with Obama.
It should have come as no surprise. Putin spent his youth learning to break the bones of enemies of the state, while Obama applied his talents to sucking the marijuana smoke off the ceilings of his friends’ automobiles.
At the recent G20 summit, Putin and Obama had a falling out, apparently over Syria. You could see it in the photos taken of the two of them together.
There was Putin, straight-faced but still righteously angry, and there was Obama, sullen and avoiding eye contact, as if Putin had just held him upside down by his ankles and taken his lunch money.
Things have taken a bit of a nasty turn in the U.S.-Russia relations department lately. In fact, it may be downright dangerous.
Despite Obama’s apparent plan to give away our European missile defenses after the election, as he unwisely told a Russian diplomat over an open mic, Putin is not willing to give an inch on his support of Syria, which is at war with a rebel group that the Russian president oddly enough thinks is having its strings pulled by the White House.
Don’t know where he’d get that notion.
After all, it’s not like Obama declared his support for uprisings in Africa and the Middle East in his State of the Union speech or other public events, sometimes even before the uprisings had really gotten under way.
It’s not like he instigated the overthrow of the Libyan government by pushing our allies into going to war with Moammar Gadhafi or encouraged the toppling of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
It’s not like White House officials have met repeatedly with envoys of the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the overarching power behind terrorism throughout much of the Islamic world and behind the rebels in Syria.
It’s not like the U.S. is backing Turkey’s taking an aggressive stance toward Syria after that country shot down a Turkish spy plane.
It’s not like Obama allies, such as Saudi Arabia, have been oddly immune to the Arab Spring uprisings that have turned over the political order in the Muslim world.
Oh, wait … all those things did happen.
Just to make life extra challenging for King Obama, the Senate and House are both considering a bill to hold Russian officials accountable when they are accused of human rights violations.
I can imagine the sheepish Obama trying to explain that to Putin.
Then there was that odd executive order Obama issued recently declaring a state of national emergency over the processing of Russian weapons-grade uranium into nuclear fuel. The order claims to be for the purpose of securing payments to Russia, but its wording sounds like it’s confiscating Russian property. No one in the mainstream media has sought to explain that one yet.
On Monday, Putin told a conference of Russian diplomats that the West is in serious decline and that they should be prepared for a backlash from the United States.
So the overall situation is unclear, since our officials and our media are clamming up on the subject. But we can perhaps gauge Putin’s current mood by the fact that on the Fourth of July, two nuclear-capable Russian bombers were intercepted some 200 miles off the West Coast, the second such incident within a month.
Ultimately, the question seems to be how big a fight does Putin want?