Politically Speaking – August 13, 2013
It’s rare, if ever, that I would agree with anything Barack Obama would do. It’s a fact that I don’t think I ever have until last week when he canceled the summit with Putin. After Russia granted temporary asylum to National Security Agency Leader Edward Snowden — which, in my opinion, was an intentional slap in our face — Barack Obama canceled his face to face with Russian Vladimir Putin. The relationship was already on shaky ground with our former cold war rival because of differences over the Syrian civil war as well as their stand on civil rights, missile defense, arms control, trade and global security. In light of the recent progress between the two countries, the Russian government was informed it was best to delay the face to face summit until we have more of a shared agenda. The Kremlin responded immediately, blaming the canceled meeting on Washington’s inability to develop relations with Moscow, and concluded by saying the decision was “clearly linked” to the Snowden case. The Kremlin also pointed out they didn’t create the problem, the U.S. Government did! But in spite of deteriorating relations, last Friday spokespersons from both countries pledged to move forward on shared interests like missile defense, and only two days after the White House canceled planned talks between Obama and Putin, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov opened high level talks. Lavrov called on both sides to act like “grownups.” But Russia minced no words in expressing its disappointment that Obama canceled the summit, and Lavrov made it clear that they were prepared to sign agreements on trade and nuclear research had the meetings between Obama and Putin taken place! On this one, Obama really had no choice, and I would say it’s not too late. They can sign agreements now without a meeting if Putin is so inclined. The big word is IF. There’s also another lingering problem. The U.S. is upset because Moscow is backing President Bashar Assad of Syria. And to add fuel to the fire, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Russia “a diminished power.” In closing, I found it interesting that Barack Obama appeared last week on late night TV on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” to address serious problems like the relations with Russia and Edward Snowden as well as embassy closures, even though this was the sixth appearance on the “Tonight Show.” Is it appropriate? I personally think these interviews would be best done in the Rose Garden or the White House briefing room. I’m personally more interested in him doing what he was elected to do instead of hitting the late night talk shows. Possibly he and Michelle missed their calling.