Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Obama: Special Treatment For Russia?

Under Obama, America’s Allies And Neighbors Aren’t Seeing Much “Flexibility”

President Obama Is Meeting With Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper And Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “ President Barack Obama hosts Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, and Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, for a meeting of North American leaders.” (“AP National News Calendar,” The Associated Press, 3/30/12)


“Canada Has Concluded That It Simply Can’t Expect Much From The United States, Even On An Issue That Would Seem To Be Vital To Our Own Interests.” (Joe Nocera, Op-Ed, “Poisoned Politics Of Keystone XL,” The New York Times , 2/6/12)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Has “Racheted Up” Support For Transporting Its Oil Westward To Send To Asia Due To The Keystone Pipeline Being “Tripped Up By Politics In Washington.” “The first of more than a year's worth of public hearings over a proposed pipeline designed to ship crude from Canada's landlocked oil-sands to the Pacific begins Tuesday, threatening to fan a debate in Canada over the country’s growing status as a global energy powerhouse. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently ratcheted up support for the idea of transporting some of Canada's growing oil production westward to the coast, where it can be loaded onto tankers and sent to thirsty Asian markets. The new push comes after another proposed pipeline, TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL, was tripped up by politics in Washington.” (Edward Welsch, “Canada Pipeline Hearings Near,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/9/12)

Prime Minister Harper: “It Is Not In This Country’s Interests That We Are A Captive Supplier Of The United States Of Energy Products, Especially When We See Some Of The Politics That Are Going On South Of The Border.” (Theophilos Argitis and Andrew Mayeda, “Securing Border Sets Obama-Harper Plan For Faster Trade, Travel,” Businessweek, 12/6/11)

Canada Is Determined To Find New Buyers So It Won’t Be Held Hostage By American Politics And Has A Newfound Willingness To Do Business With China. “Instead of blithely assuming the United States would purchase its oil, Canada is now determined to find diverse buyers so it won’t be held hostage by American politics. Hence, the newfound willingness to do business with China.” (Joe Nocera, Op-Ed, “Poisoned Politics Of Keystone XL,” The New York Times , 2/6/12)


Despite The Growing Loss Of Guns And Criminal Incidents, ATF Officials Decided To Keep “Fast And Furious” Active And “Leave Mexico Out Of The Loop.” “In March 2010, with a growing number of guns lost or showing up at crime scenes in Mexico, ATF officials convened an ‘emergency briefing’ to figure out a way to shut down Fast and Furious. Instead, they decided to keep it going and continue to leave Mexico out of the loop.” (Ken Ellingwood, Richard A. Serrano And Tracy Wilkinson, “Mexico Still Waiting For Answers On Fast And Furious Gun Program,” Los Angeles Times, 9/19/11)

In September 2011, Mexico’s Attorney General Said The U.S. Hadn’t Briefed Her On The “Fast And Furious” Operation. “ Marisela Morales, Mexico's attorney general and a longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico, told The Times that she first learned about Fast and Furious from news reports. And to this day, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized.” (Ken Ellingwood, Richard A. Serrano And Tracy Wilkinson, “Mexico Still Waiting For Answers On Fast And Furious Gun Program,” Los Angeles Times, 9/19/11)

U.S. Embassy Officials In Mexico Were Not Briefed On The “Fast And Furious” Operation. “Communications also show that the U.S. Embassy, along with the ATF office in Mexico, at least initially, was also kept in the dark.” (Ken Ellingwood, Richard A. Serrano And Tracy Wilkinson, “Mexico Still Waiting For Answers On Fast And Furious Gun Program,” Los Angeles Times, 9/19/11)

ATF Attaché In Mexico City Was Not Briefed On “Fast And Furious” Because “They Were Afraid That I Was Going To Either Brief The Ambassador Or Brief The Government Of Mexico Officials On It”. “In July 2010, Darren Gil, the acting ATF attaché in Mexico City, asked his supervisors in the U.S. about guns in Mexico but got no answer, according to his testimony before a U.S. congressional committee investigating the matter. ‘They were afraid that I was going to either brief the ambassador or brief the government of Mexico officials on it,’ Gil said.” (Ken Ellingwood, Richard A. Serrano, And Tracy Wilkinson, “Mexico Still Waiting For Answers On Fast And Furious Gun Program,” Los Angeles Times, 9/19/11)


When Pressed For A Close Friend Obama Has Among Foreign Leaders, The White House Points To Russian President Medvedev. “Asked about Obama’s friends abroad, administration officials point first to Medvedev, a fellow lawyer and technology geek who spent hours with Obama negotiating the new START agreement, which required repeated interventions by the two leaders.” (Carrie Budoff Brown, “Obama's No-Schmooze Diplomacy,” Politico, 6/8/11)

Obama Told The Outgoing Russian President, “After My Election I Have More Flexibility”
“In A Private Conversation About The Planned U.S.-Led NATO Missile Defense System In Europe, President Obama Asked Outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev For Space On The Issue.” (Brianna Keilar, “Open Mic Catches Obama Asking Russian President For Space On Missile Defense,”CNN Politics , 3/26/12)

President Obama To Russian President Medvedev: “After My Election I Have More Flexibility.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.” PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…” OBAMA: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” MEDVEDEV: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” (Jake Tapper, “President Obama Asks Medvedev For ‘Space’ On Missile Defense — ‘After My Election I Have More Flexibility,’” ABC News , 3/26/12)

Obama’s Message To Russia On Missile Defense: “Let Me Get Reelected First…Then I’ll Have A Better Chance Of Making Something Happen.” “In their joint statement to reporters here, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev spoke carefully about continuing discussions on the sensitive issues of European missile defense. But in an unscripted moment picked up by camera crews, the American president was more blunt: Let me get reelected first, he said, then I’ll have a better chance of making something happen.” (David Nakamura And Debbi Wilgoren, “Obama Tells Medvedev Solution On Missile Defense Is Unlikely Before Elections,” The Washington Post , 3/26/12)

Obama’s Russian “Reset” Continues To Be Long On Concessions With Very Few Results
Washington Post : “Return Of Vladimir Putin To The Russian Presidency Ought To Have Caused The Obama Administration To Reshape Its Policy Toward The Kremlin” But “Obama Has Decided To Bet On Deal-Making With Mr. Putin Rather Than On Democratic Change In Russia.” “The return of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency ought to have caused the Obama administration to reshape its policy toward the Kremlin. Putin based his election campaign in large part on anti-Americanism; he has increasingly pursued policies contrary to vital U.S. interests, such as his military support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and his threats against NATO’s European missile-defense system. Most important, Mr. Putin’s decade-old autocratic regime is looking shaky. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have turned out to demonstrate against fraud in the presidential and parliamentary elections, and to demand political reform….Remarkably, however, President Obama has responded to Mr. Putin’s return to the presidency by strongly affirming his commitment to partnering with the strongman.” (Editorial, “President Obama’s Bad Bet On Vladimir Putin,” The Washington Post , 3/28/12)

“For The Past Several Years, U.S And European Policy Has Largely Aimed At Cooperating With The Russian Government” While Putin Continues “Turning Up The Anti-Western Rhetoric.” “For the past several years, US and European policy has aimed largely at cooperating with the Russian government on key issues, while modulating criticism of the Kremlin’s political and human rights restrictions, and its heavy-handed pressure on neighboring countries. This fact, however, has not stopped Putin, either as prime minister or as candidate for his old job, from turning up the anti-Western rhetoric and positioning his government as standing up to the West.” (Kurt Volker, “Russian Elections: US And Europe Must Rethink The 'Reset,'” Christian Science Monitor , 3/2/12)

Putin’s Actions Have Included Blocking U.N. Intervention In Syria And NATO Missile Defense Programs . “Actions include selling arms to Syria while blocking UN action, undercutting international sanctions on Iran, blocking NATO-Russia cooperation on missile defense, threatening new missile deployments aimed at Europe, and suggesting Russia could walk away from the START II Treaty on nuclear arms signed by President Obama and Medvedev.” (Kurt Volker, “Russian Elections: US And Europe Must Rethink The 'Reset,'” Christian Science Monitor , 3/2/12)

The Wall Street Journal : “Overeager Show Of Re-Engagement Seems Unlikely To Help U.S. Interests.” “Administration officials say the U.S. needs to work with any Russian ruler on a range of issues. That's true. Yet even on the realpolitik terms favored by this White House, this week's overeager show of re-engagement seems unlikely to help U.S. interests. Mr. Putin gets policy concessions and the U.S. blessing he wants to legitimize his form of democracy, while the U.S. gets nothing. Welcome to Russian ‘reset,’ round two.” (Editorial, “From Obama With Love,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/8/12)

Washington Post : “Mr. Obama Would Be Foolish To Center His Policy On An Autocrat Whose People Are Clamoring For Democratic Change. Has Nothing Been Learned From The Arab Spring?” “Mr. Obama said Tuesday that ‘at a time of great challenges around the world, cooperation between the United States and Russia is absolutely critical to world peace and stability.’ But that cooperation — and progress on Mr. Obama’s priority of more nuclear arms reductions — should not come at the expense of U.S. defense and security interests. Moreover, Mr. Obama would be foolish to center his policy on an autocrat whose people are clamoring for democratic change. Has nothing been learned from the Arab Spring?” (Editorial, “President Obama’s Bad Bet On Vladimir Putin,” The Washington Post , 3/28/12)

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