Obama ‘Leads from Behind’, Putin from Up Front (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
How badly outplayed has Barack Obama been by Valdimir Putin? For Poland’s Rzeczpospolita, columnist Marek Magierowski writes that anyone with an elementary grasp of the Cold War – which the Poles have in spades – would have handled the Syria crisis and a long string of other issues far better than the Obama White House, which he considers to be an absolute foreign policy catastrophe.
For Rzeczpospolita, Marek Magierowski doesn’t mince words, writing in this 1200 word Obama Administration evisceration in part:
The conflict in Syria has raised the Russian president to the status of lead player on the global political stage. It is he who makes the key decisions; he whose proposals other heads of state listen to; and he who is the focus of media attention from Beijing to Washington. Putin, however paradoxical as it sounds, has suddenly become guardian of Middle East peace, defender of common sense, and at the same time, the most outstanding negotiator and “superstrategist.” And to think that just last month, this same Putin was a sinister persecutor of gays and lesbians – a monster whom all of the West should collectively condemn and boycott for his homophobic crusade!
Obama made a mistake on the Syria issue so colossal, no head of state should make it, let alone the president of a superpower like the United States.
Of course, Kremlin plans to disarm the Bashar al-Assad regime are just a smokescreen and an attempt to play for time. … Anyone who has even a cursory understanding of Cold War history and Russian politics since 1991 knows that former KGB officers have mastered the art of blowing smoke into the eyes of their ivals. Western leaders have fallen for their tricks – from Jimmy Carter to Helmut Schmidt to Jacques Chirac – and every time, the lords of the Kremlin have rejoiced at the boundless naivete of their adversaries. This time, however, Putin has landed himself quite a juicy morsel. He is pitted against President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, a comical duo, who on the subject of Syria and relations with Moscow, behave like a pair of blind kittens.
In all of Obama’s public utterances, one could almost hear his desperate plea: ‘Please, someone take this burden off my shoulders.’ … The last act of this tragicomedy was John Kerry’s statement that the strike on Syria would be ‘unbelievably small.’ … America has aligned herself with countries like Iran and North Korea, which several times a year announce a ‘massive strike’ that will ‘blow the enemy off the face of earth,’ and then do nothing. There is, however, a difference between Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama: the former would never say he would strike New York with an ‘unbelievably small number of missiles.
Obama would like to influence the fate of the world, but rather, as one of his advisors put it two years ago, “from behind.” There would be nothing wrong with that if not for the fact that that the driver’s seat is occupied by Vladimir Putin.
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