Putin is the thorn in Obama’s side, the pebble in his slipper, the fly in his borscht. Whenever Washington seeks to get something productive done abroad, the Kremlin makes sure to drop a few banana peels on the road. A smart piece from Victor Davis Hanson over at the National Review makes a point about Putin that gels with what we’ve been saying: Putin’s old world politics are the antithesis to Obama’s liberal idealism.What exactly is Putin’s approach?
It is open Russian promotion of the Syria/Hezbollah/Iran axis that was active in Iraq and is now more so in Syria. It is Russian obstruction at the U.N. of most American initiatives. It is another round of strangulation of the former Soviet republics. It is satisfaction that a frustrated United States has been reduced to appeasement instead of taking serious steps to thwart Iranian nuclearization, as Putin eggs Iran on. It is more pressure on Eastern Europeans to look to the East, not to the West. It is humiliation of the European Union over Ukraine. It is more internal oppression of a brutal sort. And it is a gratuitous delight in exposing the Obama administration as sanctimonious and weak, while the U.S. lectures Russia on human rights, as if its tepid moral remonstrations de facto translate into shamed abidance. […]Again, what is Putin? He is a constant reminder to the postmodern Western mind that the human condition has not yet evolved beyond the fist…As we debate former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s remonstrances on oversized Cokes or Michelle Obama’s advocacy of celery sticks, Putin has dogs shot down to spruce up the Olympic grounds.
Obama has been slow to recognize that Putin won’t just fall into line if you play nice. Russia is committed to regaining its former geopolitical heights. Putin’s dream for a Eurasian Union (in which Ukraine is a make-or-break play) is a major part of this plan. And Russia’s blatant violation of a landmark Cold War missile treaty last month is an obvious goad for Obama, who has made non-proliferation one of the top concerns of his administration.The lack of response from Washington has our NATO allies in Eastern Europe understandably troubled. It’s disconcerting as well that Obama isn’t taking these Euro-problems more seriously. There’s no mistaking that Putin is. Hanson’s piece is a welcome reminder of that. Read the whole thing.