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.

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