Streetwise Professor

April 14, 2015

Putin Punks the President. Again.

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:34 am

Putin just punked Obama. Again. This time by announcing the resumption of the delivery of S-300 antiaircraft missiles to Iran, and the beginning of the oil-for-goods swap that had been mooted some months ago, and doing so before the non-ink on the nuclear non-deal with Iran has dried. Lavrov put the boot in, by stating that the moves advanced the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program:

“It was done in the spirit of good will in order to encourage progress in talks,” Lavrov said. “We are convinced that at this stage there is no longer need for such an embargo, specifically for a separate, voluntary Russian embargo.”

The Daily Beacon goes into the wayback machine and reminds us that in 2010, the administration asserted that the sale of S-300s was a red line. But we know about Obama’s red lines, don’t we? And you know Putin does.

Shockingly, Kerry expressed “concern” at the Russian move. (That was sarcasm, people.) Kerry is doubly punked, because just the other day he cited the Russians as agreeing with him on the understandings reached in Lausanne.

Kerry is the biggest buffoon and chump to serve as Secretary of State in the 229 year history of the republic (but perhaps the most arrogant). (And that includes James Buchanan! At least we will probably be spared a Kerry presidency.) He has been spinning and harrumphing non-stop in defense of the non-deal. For instance, he claims that we will be able to detect any Iranian violations because Science! (the usual lefty magical incantation). Further, he says Congress (and everyone else) should but out because Obama has a “global mandate”:

Secretary of State John Kerry described the nuclear agreement with Iran as a “global mandate” that Congress only “assisted” in creating. “This is a global mandate issued by the United Nations,” Kerry said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Congress assisted by passing sanctions.”

Um, you would have thought that Kerry would have given up such “global” formulations after the “Global Test” fiasco of 2004. But of course not.

And I think my copy of the Constitution is complete, and I can’t find “global mandate” anywhere. Interesting, isn’t it, that two ex-Senators who were once insistent on Congressional prerogatives are now utterly dismissive of the legislative branch. Further proof that where you stand depends on where you sit.

And of course genuflecting to some “global mandate” gives power to malign actors, like Putin, who can jerk us around at will. This is particularly disturbing when we have an administration that is quite willing to be jerked around by not just Putin, but Khamenei, Assad, and assorted other thugs and punks.

So what’s Putin’s game here? Beyond the sadistic pleasure of torturing Obama, I mean. Economically, an Iran deal does not favor Russia. So is this part of a particularly Byzantine plot to undermine the deal? It certainly gives lots of ammunition to opponents of a deal in the US, Israel, and even France. (Germany and the UK are hopeless.) But perhaps as this Bloomberg piece suggests, Putin is willing to take an economic hit for a geopolitical gain. I don’t know exactly.

But what I do know is that Putin is re-fighting a Cold War that Obama believes is over because he wants it to be over. Because Obama doesn’t believe that in war, the other guy gets a vote: Obama believes his is the only vote that matters. This delusion is refuted daily, but Obama persists in it.


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  1. No, the s-300 deal strengthens the hand of Iran, making it less conciliatory in negotiations. Potentially it might lead to their failure benefiting Russia.

    Comment by Krzys — April 14, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

  2. I suspect the Russians know damned well this deal is worthless and is being breached as we speak, and are taking the opportunity to flog some weapons that will both bring in some cash and make life harder for the U.S. in future.

    Comment by Tim Newman — April 14, 2015 @ 11:22 pm

  3. How does this hurt the US? Iran is going to get nuclear weapons one way or another (if North Korea and Pakistan can, so can Iran). No matter how much Tim Cotton wishes it the US isnt going to fight Iran, and any American politician who advocates another war in the Middle East will be out of office. Tim Newman is half right, the S-300 are being delivered not as some kind of ‘boot’ but rather as a preemptive marketing move in the defense sector, if the US normalizes relationship with Iran weapon salesmen from Europe and South Korea will arrive and compete.
    In fact if you could step back from your instinctive anti-Obama stance, you would see that this isnt Putin punking Obama, this is Putin scoring an own goal. US is going to be kept out of another idiotic adventure in the middle east, an extra source of oil will come online, and there is no genuine ‘geopolitical gain’, the Iranians have already signaled that they would prefer to dump Assad and have Hizballah run the whole thing in Syria — which is in stark contrast to Putin’s total bet on Damascus. Finally, if Israel views this as a threat to them one helpful response– beyond demanding America takes out another enemy state of theirs — is to seek some kind of revenge on Russia. Perhaps by providing Ukraine with sophisticated weaponry to amp up the casualty rates to a level Putin wont be able to hide

    Comment by d — April 15, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

  4. One obvious risk here is that the delivery of the S-300s could constitute a tripwire for war. If the Israelis do not actually have ECM to negate it–and most of the public commentary by anonymous U.S. military sources and other military “experts” is that they probably do not–then their window for executing an airstrike will close much more quickly than originally anticipated. Begin took out Osirak at the end of one window, before it was activated and became a threat to spread fallout after being bombed. Now the Israeli government will have to think hard about this second window of the S-300.

    Comment by srp — April 16, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

  5. SWP:

    As always, Putin ups the ante. And Obama dithers. It isn’t chess. It’s stud poker.

    And Obama doesn’t even know how to bluff. He struts. He preens. And allows Putin to see his cards.

    Unfortunately for America, he gambles away her future, not his own.

    VP VP

    Comment by Vlad — April 16, 2015 @ 8:46 pm

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