Friday, September 20, 2013

Russian Statecraft vs. Obama Administration: Russia 1, Obama 0?

"Definition: statecraft--noun 1.
the art of conducting state affairs; statesmanship."

As defined by Webster's 11th edition, statecraft sounds rather clear and straightforward;  unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Obama administration's recent handling of the Syrian crisis.  In fact, President Obama's attempts to get a handle on the political, military, and humanitarian crisis in the middle east seem utterly laughable for someone who recently compared himself to Ghandi and Nelson Mandela; rather than being a grand statesman in the vein of Abraham Lincoln (to whom Obama likens himself quite frequently, going to far as to swear into his second term on Lincoln's Bible), he cannot even persuade his own party to authorize action to enforce his much-publicized "Red Line" (which he now claims not to have set) on Syrian chemical weapons use.
Ponder over the waffling of the leader of the free world, as we compare the President's course of inaction to Putin's regime in Russia.  While the American Secretary of State John Kerry was seeking international help in finding definite proof about the use of chemical weapons in Syria (which the UN has now provided), Russians were sent out directly to analyze the incident (free from the constraints of the international bickering of the UN), and has offered solid proof supporting its own interpretation on the Syrian mishap.  The Obama administration has been advocating both for a unilateral strike on Syria and trying to get international support for the same, presenting mixed messages for all audiences.  The irony of Obama's similarity to former President Bush in this position is rather plainly seen on the world stage, and the world has paid attention--intending not to be sidelined the same way as it was during the previous administration. Russia, meanwhile, has been the foremost advocate of following the international norms that the Obama administration claims it is pursuing--going so far as to have Putin write an op-ed article in the New York Times cautioning against "American Exceptionalism," while advocating for a very clear, determined, directed course of action.  Putin has also jumped on the recent off-the-cuff remark by Kerry indicating that military intervention could be averted if Assad turned his ABC-type weapons over to an international coalition.  This has resulted in the entire world recognizing that Russia is "gaining clout" on the world stage for preventing an unjust escalation of the Syrian civil war.  No waffling on that one.
Why does this really matter to Americans, and to our National Security as a whole?  While the Obama administration and Secretary of State Kerry have been telling the world that the Syria deal is an "isolated incident" and portends nothing about future American actions (specifically against Iran), this could not be further from the truth.  Kerry is on record as saying that "[the United States] cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs, because that affects all other issues," international affairs have recognized that Obama's "Red Line" speech ultimately meant nothing.  While the immediate security question is Iran, the implications can be the same for Obama's stance in Egypt, Greece, the Eurozone, or basically any area where the United States has set forth other "Red Lines" and hard policy directives.
During his original presidential campaign, Obama said that "This president may occupy the White House, but for the last [several] years the position of leader of the free the world has remained open, and it's time to fill that role once more."   It is certainly an interesting security development that the "leader of the free world" at the moment does not appear to be President Obama, but instead seems to be an ex-KGB agent who is striving to top Stalin in Russian history.
The image below can sum it up quite nicely, albeit in only the manner of a trite internet meme:

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