Streetwise Professor

March 21, 2010

Thank You Sir! May I Have Another?

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 8:18 am

Hillary Clinton just visited Moscow.  While there, she was sandbagged by Vladimir Putin.  Putin scammed his way onto her schedule for what was supposed to be a grasp-and-greet photo op, then launched into a six minute diatribe against the United States, in front of the assembled press corps

Instead, with cameras rolling, they watched Putin spend six minutes rattling off a number of complaints he has with the United States.

Trade with the US has slowed during the financial crisis, he complained, Russian companies have been slapped with US sanctions and Russia is having trouble joining the World Trade Organization.

He also singled out the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, as he has in the past, as evidence that the US is not fully encouraging business with Russia. (The amendment restricts trade with countries that limit emigration, as the USSR did with Jews.)

. . . .

Reporters were surprised at the length of Putin’s list of issues and the fact that he did it in front of the Russian and American press corps, a pool reporter noted.

But wait!  There’s more!  Putin/Russia added injury to insult.

The other most contentious moment of Clinton’s trip was also thanks to Putin after he announced yesterday that a nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran will be completed in the next few months.

(Interesting that this announcement came from Putin, not the sockpuppet “President.”)

And how did Hillary! respond?  By mounting a spirited defense of her country?  With a corresponding inventory of Russian actions (which could have taken far longer than six minutes, BTW)?  Sadly, no: she merely assumed the position:

“If we continue to work together, we can move beyond the problems to greater opportunities,” Clinton replied, according to the Washington Post, after emphasizing some of the accomplishments the two countries had recently achieved.  The report added that Clinton was “unfazed by the blunt lecture.”

Continue working together?  Did I miss something?

The contrast here between Clinton’s reaction to the deliberate insult from an ex-KGB thug (ex?) who happens to be the head of Russia’s government, and the administration’s hyperbolic response to the decision of an Israeli functionary regarding building in a Jewish area of Jerusalem is stunning.  From Obama to Biden to yes, Hillary, the administration reacted to the Israeli decision like a Southern planter: “My honor has been insulted, suh!”  All that was missing was a challenge to a duel.  But a real, in person, in-her-face insult from a real leader of a major government leads to a passive, flaccid, non-response.

This failure to respond robustly to insults verbal and practical (e.g., Russia’s continued support for Iran’s nuclear program) will only encourage continued provocations.  In an inversion of Hillary!’s formulation, this will cause us to move beyond opportunities to greater problems.  Much greater.

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  1. […] Professor reflects upon US Secretary of State's, Hillary Clinton, visit to Moscow and reacts against her not responding […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » Russia-US: A Derogatory Dilemma — March 21, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  2. Don’t forget Geithner telling Chinese college students that the US is good for it’s debt, only to have those same Chinese college students respond by laughing in his face. The once or twice in a century trend change of the great weakening of a super power is upon us. Enemies and allies alike will act in their own national interest to wrest power, wealth from the falling giant.

    Comment by Mark G. — March 21, 2010 @ 10:25 am

  3. Yep – the US won’t get its own way as easy as it used to.
    The world has changed and the US has to earn respect again.
    You can’t blame the Obama administration about the debt situation – will be a tough few years ahead for the whole world.
    The US needs to be strong and clear off some of its debt to regain respect in the mid term.
    If you are going to farm out work to cheap labour pools then give India the business and start moving the money away from China. Or better still bring the work back to the US or Europe.

    Comment by Robert L — March 21, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  4. @RL–you can fight it, or you can surrender to it. Obama/Hillary are set on the latter option. You can’t blame Obama for the ENTIRE debt situation, but the administration is definitely hell-bent on making it worse. Much worse. Yes. Delever. The private sector has decided that’s in its interest. Why does gov’t presume that it has to relever on our account?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 21, 2010 @ 11:44 am

  5. First of all the Bushehr power-plant would go online anyway, I still wonder what took them so long.

    The Russian’s must be watching America’s Iranian dilemma with joy. The American’s cannot attack Iran and win. Well, only if they institute the draft maybe, but they are afraid of actual grassroots that will make the Tea Parties look very good in comparison. But if they do not act, Israel will act for them. Either way the Americans would be dragged into a conflict. Wanna ask some kuffiyeh wearing undergraduates what they think about fighting a war Israel started.

    Smacking Hillary on a blog is easy, but what would you do in her situation?

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — March 21, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  6. […] Professor reflects upon US Secretary of State's, Hillary Clinton, visit to Moscow and reacts against her not responding […]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Russia-US: A Derogatory Dilemma — March 21, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  7. Old alpha males at the peak of a chimpanzee pecking order usually pointedly ignore challenges from younger males seeking to take their place, instead of trouncing them as they did when they were younger. The US is that aging chimp, whereas Russia/China/Iran are the younger challenger chimps.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 21, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  8. Seems like the previous Obama Global Apology Tour has had its effect. At least Billary did not say “thank you, sir, may I have another.”

    This might be of interest to you, SWP [excerpt pasted in below]:

    High-stakes Eurasian Chess Game: Russia’s New Geopolitical Energy Calculus
    Tectonic Shift in Heartland Power: Part II

    by F. William Engdahl
    Russia’s North-South-East-West energy strategy

    The defusing of major Washington military threats is far from the only gain for Moscow in having a neutral but stable Ukrainian neighbor. Russia now vastly improves its ability to expand the one great power lever it has, outside of its remaining and still formidable nuclear strike force. That lever is to counter Washington’s relentless mililtary pressure by cleverly using export of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, a fuel much in demand in Western Europe and even in UK where North Sea fields are in decline.

    According to west European industry estimates, demand within the European Union countries for natural gas, especially for use in electric power generation where it is seen as a clean and very efficient fuel, is estimated to rise some 40% from today’s levels over the next twenty years. That increase in gas demand will coincide with a decline in current gas output from fields in the UK, Netherlands and elsewhere in the EU. [1] With Ukraine’s shift from hostile opposition to Moscow to what Yanukovych terms ‘non-aligned’ neutrality — with an early emphasis on stabilizing Russian-Ukrainian gas geopolitics — Moscow suddenly holds a far stronger array of economic options with which to neutralize Washington’s game of military and economic encirclement.

    When Yushchenko and Georgia’s Saakashvili took the reins of power in their respective countries and began taking steps with Washington to join NATO, one of the few means available for Putin’s Russia to re-establish some semblance of economic security was its energy card. Russia has by far the world’s largest known reserves of natural gas. Interestingly, according to US Department of Energy estimates, the second largest gas reserves are in Iran, a country also high on Washington’s target list.[2]

    Today, Russia is clearly pursuing a fascinating, highly complex multi-pronged energy strategy. In effect it is using its energy as a diplomatic and political lever to ‘win friends and influence (EU) people.’ Putin’s successor as President, Dmitry Medvedev, is well suited to the role of overseeing gas pipeline geopolitics. Before becoming Russian President, he had been chairman of the state-owned Gazprom.

    Comment by elmer — March 21, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  9. “While there, she was sandbagged by Vladimir Putin.”

    Something that has done by the other side.

    Sometimes the tit for tat doesn’t happen right away.

    “(e.g., Russia’s continued support for Iran’s nuclear program)”

    At last notice, it has been suggested that China is taking a “softer” stand on Iran.

    Comment by boss — March 21, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  10. Prof, I don’t agree with you here. Mr P apparently rants about the US to everyone who comes in contact with him. People who have been ranted at say that’s it’s totally crazy: it’s like you push a button and get three hours of vitriol.

    But what would have happened if Hillary ranted back? The Russian press would have reported her attacks and increased anti-Americanism. Putin would have ranted more. I’m sorry she didn’t call him on it — say something like, “I’m sorry Mr P has chosen to list his grievances at a time when we are concentrating on establishing a better relationship…” But the thing is, if she zinged him, he would act out more in the future. He and the gov’t are like teenagers looking for a fight. They are just dying for you to challenge them. And the worst thing you can do is give them the fight they are looking for, because they don’t have the brains to stop.

    Yeah, it’s annoying. It’s not satisfying. But I think it’s better to ignore him. The message is: this isn’t worth discussing. It’s not worthy of a response.
    My 2 cents.

    Comment by mossy — March 22, 2010 @ 9:12 am

  11. If I was in Putin’s place I would rant against the US, and the West in general, all the time too.

    At the same time as Hillary is supposedly stretching out a hand of friendship, the US continues supporting Georgia and is conducting military exercises in the Baltics. So which button exactly is Hillary pressing? As usually the “Western hypocrisy” button.

    Furthermore, Bush also ranted a lot – about freedom, democracy, blah blah blah, while invading countries and torturing people. Whenever he appeared on TV I wanted to throw a shoe at him. Why can Bush rant and not Putin? This wish to suppress Putin’s words only displays the liberast hatred of free speech.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — March 22, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  12. SO, and the US shouldn’t support Georgia because…? Because it’s a neighbor of Russia and therefore doesn’t have the right to determine its own future? And ditto for the Baltic states?
    Why don’t you read what Putin ranted about. The WTO is not admitting Russia? How about because at the last minute Russia decided it would enter as a union? How about the fact that intellectual property rights are not respected in Russia? It’s complaining about Jackson-Vanick? Yeah, it should be repealed, but that’s not holding up Russian development — corruption is. Putin’s ranting is just an irrational list of gripes, most of which are brought up to distract the world from the real problems Russia is facing.

    Comment by mossy — March 24, 2010 @ 3:30 am

  13. @Mossy. The audience is not Russians, to be quite frank. There’s likely nothing that Hillary or anybody could say that would influence their attitudes towards the US. So, if she pushes back, 90 percent of Russians think that the US is an enemy, instead of 80 percent, and Putin’s popularity goes from 70 pct to 80 pct? Not a material difference. But a thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another attitude oozes weakness, and encourages adventurers, including not just Putin but the Iranians and others. In these sorts of matters, like Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than loved. And here, that’s not even the choice. It’s between being feared and scorned as a weakling. The former is definitely preferred, but Hillary’s response will just feed the latter.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 25, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  14. I thought chickens had pecking orders, not chimps, and what’s more, these sort of analogies are always a big stretch. I can also assure you that this is not Putin’s M/O, and that he and Ahmadinejad, the Chinese leadership, etc. interpret Hillary’s flaccid response.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 25, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  15. I wonder what your take is on Trump THANKING Putin for expelling American diplomats from Russia.

    It was super ironic finding this article when I was googling for reactions on Trumps response regarding Putin & the US diplomats.

    I guess it’s ok to be “friendly” to Russia now, eh?

    Comment by Brofessor — August 11, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

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