Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Translation: Obama is a Pushover

November (DPA):
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned on November 5 [the day after Obama was elected President] that Russia would deploy semi-ballistic missiles to its Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad, bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania, if US plans [to build missile shields in the sovereign nations and NATO ally countries of Poland and the Czech Republic] went ahead.
OK, clear enough, right? We saw this all during the Cold War. This is simple. We make a move that threatens their hegemony and power, and they make a counter-move to threaten us. Your move, O.
Putin added [later in November] that Russia was hoping for "more constructive" negotiations on a key nuclear arms treaty set to expire next year.

The comments came as Medvedev eased his tone, saying at an Asia- Pacific forum in Peru that he was open to compromise with the new US administration.
Translation: we know that Obama is a pushover.
"Dialogue is possible, a change of position is possible," Medvedev was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying in Lima, where current US President George W Bush was also in attendance. Obama has shown signs he may even rescind the shield plans, Medvedev said.

Obama and his advisors have not staked out a position on the missile defence issue ever since a Polish statement was released stating that the matter had been decided.
Translation: The Russians know Obama is a pushover. So far, Obama has voted "present" on this, even while our NATO allies who are threatened by Russia's aggressive tendencies call out for our unwavering support.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in November (AFP):
"Our concerns can only be removed by one thing -- the renunciation of plans for unilateral establishment of a missile defense system and an agreement to work together from scratch," he said.
Translation: We will not back down. The Sovet Un... err, Russian Federation does not back down. We know that Obama is a pushover and will gladly back down.

From Interfax, "U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns visited Moscow...":
Q. U.S. President Barack Obama and later U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden said that it was time to push a “reset button” in relations with Russia. Could you be more specific as to what the new U.S. administration might be actually implying by saying that relations with Russia should be “reset” and what do you think will change in Washington’s policy towards Russia?

A. First, I am very happy to be back in Moscow.
Translation: The Russians treat me very, very well.

But seriously, you should read that interview. Burns seems to be a pliant public servant, which isn't always a great thing, especially when he is controlled by an administration of useful idiots. But Bush 'looked into Putin's eyes and saw the face of an angel' or something, so it seems the Russians managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the previous administration too, despite all this talk of "new directions" and "working together to push the reset button" or whatever the current vapidity is.

Now we see the fruition of this talk: "Obama 'ready to drop shield plans for Russian help on Iran'" (Novosti):
Washington has told Moscow that Russian help in resolving Iran's nuclear program would make its missile shield plans for Europe unnecessary, a Russian daily said on Monday, citing White House sources.
Well that's weird. Sure we said before that the missile shields were about Iran and North Korea in addition to NATO defense against Russia, but everyone in the intelligence community knew what it really was: Hey, Russia, we're watching you. It turns out it had nothing to do with Russia after all! It was about Iran! In fact, if you can believe it, Russia and the United States are working together against Iran! For real! What did you think this was about?

Next day, March 3rd (AFP):
The US could rethink its plans to site a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, which have been strongly opposed by Russia, by contending such a defense system was no longer necessary in exchange for Moscow's help with Iran, the Times said.
At least that's what we were saying yesterday.
The overture was rebuffed Tuesday by Medvedev, who said it was "not productive" to link talks over the US missile defense system with Iran's suspected nuclear program.
Translation: Your missile shield has nothing to do with our Iranian nuclear program... I mean the Iranian nuclear program.

October 2007 (BBC):
Iran wants Russian help in its dispute with the West over its nuclear aims.

Up to now Moscow has blocked any new UN sanctions, saying it wants to enable the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to work with Iran on clearing up outstanding issues.

But Moscow is seeking Iranian compromise over the issue, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Tehran.
Not good enough? What about this?
The Russian president said Moscow had an interest in a "strong Iran" and that he wanted deeper ties with the country, state television reported.
Now we're supposed to believe that for dumping some missile shields, which we will do eagerly under Obama, Russia is going to cut its "strong ties" with Iran?

More here and here. Russia and Iran are strategic allies. Hence Medvedev's response:
"If we are to speak about some sort of exchange, the question has not been presented in such a way, because it is not productive," Medvedev said during a trip to Spain Tuesday.

But he acknowledged: "Our American partners are ready to discuss this problem. This is already good."
Translation: Obama is a pushover. We have him making concessions, offering ridiculous trades giving up missile shields for "help" in maybe-sorta-putting pressure on the Iranians, etc. We can get him to give up the missile sites and maintain our strategic relationship with Iran. We can weaken the United States on both fronts. We can do it and we will. So why would we make concessions?
Asked about it in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the missile defense system "has always been intended to deter any missile that might come from Iran."
Oh really? Here's an April 2008 article from the super liberal Der Spiegel:
Rice had traveled to Warsaw to sign a treaty for the stationing of interceptor missiles in Poland, a deal that had been in the works for years. In the future, they could be used to intercept warheads launched against the US by rogue states in the Middle East. Of course, Moscow has argued that the missile shield could also be used against Russia. "Poland is now a target of our missiles," one Russian general hissed not long ago after the Polish and Americans reached an agreement. But the country, a young member of the European Union, is determined to remain undeterred. "No one can dictate to Poland what it should do," Kaczynski told his people on Tuesday evening. "That's in the past."

For Poland, nestled as it is between the Oder and Bug rivers, the missile shield has far more than just military significance. Even 19 years after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, 11 years after it became a member of NATO and four years after its EU accession, Warsaw still feels the need to demonstrate its independence against the old hegemony of Moscow. Russia's invasion of Georgia in recent days, following Georgia's strike on its breakaway province of South Ossetia, has only served to strengthen Polish fears. Prior to the war, a steady majority of up to 80 percent of Poles opposed the missile shield according to public opinion polls. In the past week, however, the polls have swung the other way, with 50 to 65 percent now expressing their support for the shield. Polls show that 65 percent of Poles are afraid of Russia, whereas barely 20 percent are worried about Iran and North Korea.
Or we could go back to May 2007 (Reuters):
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Rood came to Warsaw to discuss placing 10 interceptor rockets in Poland aimed at protecting against missile attacks from what Washington calls rogue states such as Iran or North Korea.

"There is still a lot to discuss but after today's talks I am very optimistic that we will come to a conclusion," Rood told a news conference.

The plan has drawn strong criticism from Russia, which sees it as a threat to its national security.

"Our opposition is known," President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at a news conference in Luxembourg.

"We don't believe that it could be about missiles of North Korea or Iran -- they won't have them in any case for 10 to 15 years."
So the Russians see it as Russian vs. American hegemony, the Polish see it as being about the Russians, and only officially do we Americans talk about it being for Iran and North Korea. It was, is, and always will be about Russian aggression and ambition. Are those countries threats to us (and to Russia)? Yes. But the idea that Russia is our ally in building defenses against the aggression of rogue states is farcical. Russia is a rogue state.

So this new "dialogue," or whatever they are calling it, is not encouraging. Here's former and current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in February:
NATO has agreed to a ballistic missile defense that would protect against a launch from Iran. The Czech Republic will host a radar for the system, with the missiles based in Poland.

Russia adamantly has opposed the system.

"I told the Russians a year ago that if there were no Iranian missile program, there would be no need for the missile sites," Gates said.
This is a new narrative. If Gates did say that, it was more about pointing to Russia's cooperation with Iran as another reason why the missile sites were needed. Obviously he didn't mean, Yea, we'll just get rid of the Iranian nuclear program and then we'll be set here. Such a scenario is ludicrous. But that's exactly what we're being sold now.

On April 2, Obama and Medvedev will meet in London, where in November 2006 an ex-Russian FSB officer and current British citizen who spoke out against Russian abuses, Alexander Litvinenko, was murdered by Russian agents using polonium-210. This assassination was carried out in full accord with Russian law. The Western world, afraid of offending an "ally," has done nothing to reproach Putin's criminal government.

[Some links from Jake Tapper's blog.]