The press roundly criticized the Trump administration for stating what should be obvious, the President has been much tougher on Russia than Obama ever was. In fact, he’s doing what Obama opposed.
An article in American Interest by Benjamin Hadid reflects concern about the President’s lack of verbal response to Russians interfering in U.S. elections, but he does confirm that Obama’s response was negligible. It was quite opposite President Trump’s.
Obama’s response was “weak and underwhelming”, he writes. Obama underestimated the Russian challenge.
We know that.
Hadid makes note of Obama’s breezy queazy attitude when the Russians took over Crimea and hacked the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Obama’s so-called sanctions were irrelevant and didn’t deter Russia in the least.
Obama was weak according to Hadid’s reading because he didn’t understand the threat; he took a long view of historical trends based on liberalism, and he believed domestic obstacles stood in his way.
Obama thought Russia was on the decline economically, the population was decreasing, and they weren’t a match for the U.S. No matter how bad Russia got, Obama clung to the idea he didn’t need to do anything. It would all take care of itself. No alarm bell could change his mind.
The foolish reset caused him to turn a blind eye to the invasion of Georgia and the danger Russia presents.
Russia wants to be on the same footing with the U.S. and nothing will stop her. Obama couldn’t see it. There is no way to have a relationship of trust with them. Obama gave away the missile defense plans for Poland and the Czech Republic for nothing in return.
Even after Russia invaded Crimea, he saw them as a simple “spoiler”. Then he took the weapons away from Ukraine, leaving them defenseless. It was a critical error.
“The Obama Administration also sought to shore up NATO’s eastern flank through the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), which stationed rotating troops in Poland and the Baltics while increasing the budget for U.S. support. Nevertheless, the President resisted calls from Congress, foreign policy experts, and his own cabinet to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine that would have raised the costs on Russia and helped Kyiv defend itself against Russian military incursion into the Donbas,” Hadid writes.
As Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, Russia’s interests trumped ours.
Remember when Russia said a lot of Ukrainians are actually Russian descent and speak Russian so Russian interests must be considered first? Obama bought that, but by those standards, we should give Brighton Beach to Putin.
Obama’s response was to say Russia was merely a ‘regional power” and is invading out of “weakness”.
Obama also ignored Russia’s influence in the election.
For all his public contempt of Putin, it never translated into tougher policies, Hadid says. On the other hand, many of Trump’s policies have been good.
Trump hired outstanding people from National Security Council Senior Director Fiona Hill to Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs Wess Mitchell to the Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Hadid notes.
Obama Opposed Pushing Back on Russian Aggression
The Trump Administration is pursuing concrete policies pushing back on Russian aggression that the Obama Administration had fervently opposed.
The National Security Strategy of 2017, bringing a much-needed dose of realism to a conversation too often dominated by abstractions like the “liberal world order”, singles out both China and Russia as key geopolitical rivals.”
Trump approved lethal weapons to Ukraine, shut down Russia’s consulate in San Francisco as well as two additional diplomatic annexes, and rather than rolling back sanctions, Trump signed into law additional sanctions on Russia, expanded LNG sales to a Europe dependent in Russian gas imports, and increased the Pentagon’s European Reassurance Initiative budget by 40 percent. (A President who berated U.S. investments for European defense has actually dramatically increased American military presence on Europe’s threatened borders.)
Hadid criticizes Trump for his boasting, lauding of Putin, and his undermining of a commitment to NATO, but he gives credit where it’s due. Europeans have dropped the early hysteria and work around his rhetoric because he is doing the job.
When Obama abandoned Ukraine, the Kremlin gained a veto on any possible political solution to Syria and got a foothold in a region that was excised from Soviets by Sadat many years ago. Obama remained oblivious.
Trump didn’t go for a phony reset, he was only accused of it. Nonetheless, Democrats have allowed Putin to sow discord and chaos in Washington. He is winning after all.