Per usual, the Russians have been throwing hissy fits over US ballistic missile defense plans, which the Russians believe are directed at them. Medvedev has been warning that the time is fast closing for a deal to be done. Rogozin has been venting about BMD. And on and on.
And apparently Obama wants to deal, but feels constrained by, oh, you know, the fact that the American electorate is not nearly so enthusiastic.
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
The body language is even more amazing than the words. Look at Obama’s reassuring grasp of Medvedev’s arm.
Obama is trying to deceive someone. He is either deceiving the American people, by his refusal to be honest with his intentions regarding missile defense, or he is attempting to deceive Medvedev (and Putin-the “him” referred to in Obama’s “give me space” remark), by insinuating that he will make a deal after the election. But even the latter interpretation involves an attempt to dodge the US electorate: if he convinces Russia to tone down its rhetoric on BMD, he takes this issue-and the issue of Russia generally-away as a campaign matter. This relieves him of the necessity of dealing honestly and forthrightly with a potentially contentious issue, and permits him to avoid accountability for the complete lack of concrete results arising from the vaunted Reset. If the Russians continue to be cantankerous about missile defense, the Reset looks like a sham. (Well, it is, but it will be obvious to everyone.) If Putin tones it down, based on Obama’s wink and stroke, Obama can continue to claim that he has improved relationships with Russia.
But given the fact that Obama is obviously playing somebody, do you really believe that Putin will conclude that Obama is playing the American electorate, and not Putin? Given Putin’s suspicions of the US, I doubt it.
But I think that Americans have to take seriously the possibility that Obama is planning to conceal actively his intentions regarding a second term. If he is willing to be “flexible” after the election-i.e., if he is willing to do things after the election that are contrary to what he says before it–about Russia and missile defense, what else is he being “flexible”-i.e., lying-about?
In other words, this exchange with Medvedev raises serious additional questions about his sincerity and honesty. I don’t think he deserves space. He deserves to be pressed repeatedly on his intentions, and this video provides a perfect pretext for the pressing.
The exchange with Medvedev was also notable for its confirmation of Medvedev as Putin’s errand boy: “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” How embarrassing, mainly because Medvedev says that without a trace of embarrassment. He is well and truly whipped. He has his mind right. He knows who is boss.
In fact, pretty much anybody paying attention knew who was boss from day 1. But Obama predicated the Reset on the idea that Medvedev was a rival of Putin’s. How’s that looking now?
Speaking of missile defense, over the weekend Rogozin the Ridiculous tweeted that “Russian missile systems are able to overcome missile defense of any kind.” To which I responded: “So then why are you so fussed about US ABM system? You should welcome us wasting $ on it. So which is it?”
Which means that Rogozin is also attempting to deceive. Either his fulminations against US missile defense are deceptive (because these really pose no threat to Russia because its ICBMs are invulnerable) are dishonest or his claims that Russian missiles are invulnerable are lies.
Sad to say, Rogozin didn’t reply. I’m shocked. But a troll did claim that Russia was fussed because “it is indicative of NATO’s arrogant disrespect for Russian sovereignty.” Uhm, American missiles or ABM facilities- on Polish, Romanian and Czech violate Russian sovereignty how, exactly?