Politics & Policy

Obama’s Cold War Replay

Russian president Vladimir Putin (Getty)
The president seems keen to repeat the seminal 20th-century conflict—except this time, the U.S. loses.

Has there ever been a president more eager to make concessions to vicious regimes than Barack Obama? The opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba is the latest, and one fears, not the last in a string of preemptive concessions.

President Obama, with his blend of hard-left prejudices and vaulting solipsism, has sought throughout his presidency to atone for what he, and his party, view as America’s past sins.

That was the essence of the “reset” with Russia, which included betraying two of America’s European allies, Poland and the Czech Republic, who had been scheduled to receive ground-based antiballistic missile systems. Though President Obama is fond of saying that “the Cold War is over,” and even mocked Mitt Romney’s concern about Russian behavior by sniffing “The Eighties called and they want their foreign policy back,” it is Obama himself who seems fixated on re-enacting the Cold War — except this time, the U.S. loses.

Consider the Obama administration’s otherwise weird decision to pursue a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia. At a moment when the world was convulsed by economic upheaval, terrorism, expanding civil wars in the Middle East, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and other challenges, the notion that reducing the number of offensive warheads in U.S. and Russian arsenals was a top priority was bizarre. It was almost as if Obama were wishing to replay Reykjavik, with himself in Reagan’s role. Obama’s declaration that reducing our nuclear arsenal would inspire others, like North Korea and Iran, to abandon their nuclear ambitions is beyond naïve — it borders on delusional.

Everyone knew in 2008 that Barack Obama intended to reverse the foreign policies of his predecessor. What many didn’t realize was that Obama, schooled by Columbia University and the likes of William Ayers, would attempt to reverse policies that had been maintained by Democrats and Republicans stretching back to Harry Truman.

Whereas previous presidents had conceived of the U.S. world role as, at least in part, to uphold human rights and individual liberty, the Obama administration let it be known early on, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that we would not raise human-rights issues with China, for example. We would instead focus on “the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.”

Human rights have not interested this president, though he makes his share of gaseous declarations about “who we are” and who we are not. When millions of Iranians poured into the streets demanding liberty, Obama coldly turned away. He couldn’t spare a word of support for the people of Iran, because he was the president of the nation that had aided a coup 60 years ago! He would instead keep stretching out his hand to the regime that hates us. Their hatred is justified, after all.

It was different when Egyptians rose up against Hosni Mubarak. That regime had been a U.S. ally. Obama was more than ready to show Mubarak the door.

“Tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election,” the over-eager Obama whispered to Dmitri Medvedev, itching to appease the Russians.

In 2009, the little Communist thug Daniel Ortega lectured Obama for 50 minutes about supposed American sins against Latin America, particularly against Cuba, “whose crime has been . . . fighting for the sovereignty of the peoples.” Did President Obama snort at this outrageous inversion of reality? Did he mention the Cuban gulag, the lack of elections, the executions of those seeking to leave? No, he said, “To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”

It’s a good thing that Alan Gross and 53 political prisoners have been freed. But the way it was done makes it look to the world that holding a gun to America’s head (in the form of taking hostages, which the Taliban have also learned) works wonders. In exchange for diplomatic recognition and valuable economic concessions, the U.S. (and the Cuban people) got nothing. No promise of free elections, no guarantee of international inspections of the prisons, no freedom of the press — nothing.

Why? Because in his heart Obama believes that his nation has always been on the wrong side, and he will use his power in the remaining two years to punish us. A deal with Iran is next.

— Mona Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. © 2014 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Terrible Plans

Elizabeth Warren is being lauded as the serious candidate in the race. Her motto, “I have a plan for that,” is accepted as proof that she is thoughtful and conscientious. That’s too generous. One should expect a grown-up to evaluate costs and benefits, to understand tradeoffs, and to pay for what they ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More