So, You Worry About Russia’s Vladimir Putin

COMMENTARY Europe

So, You Worry About Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Jan 31st, 2017 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow in Anglo-American Relations

Ted Bromund studies Anglo-American relations, U.S. relations with Europe and the EU, and the U.S.’s leadership role in the world.
Russia is certainly a bad actor. I only wish the left had noticed years ago. And no, I don’t excuse conservatives who fall for the Russian lure: They should know better. Ria Novosti/MCT/Newscom

Key Takeaways

The left has a new boogeyman: Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Were you skeptical when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the “reset” of relations with Russia on March 6, 2009?

If you weren’t worried about Russia then, but you are now — well, you’re not wrong to worry. But you are a hypocrite.

The left has a new boogeyman: Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Russian hackers, many liberals say, cost Hillary Clinton the election.

Russia is certainly a bad actor. I only wish the left had noticed years ago. And no, I don’t excuse conservatives who fall for the Russian lure: They should know better.

As for Clinton’s electoral loss, I doubt Russia is to blame. It’s hard for either party to win three elections in a row. Also, Clinton wasn’t popular, and she ran a bad campaign. But if you are a liberal who blames Russia, here are a few questions for you about the last eight years:

Were you skeptical when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the “reset” of relations with Russia on March 6, 2009?

Did it bother you that the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, set up in July 2009, featured Vladislav Surkov — one of the architects of Putin’s regime — offering the United States advice on how to manage the media and civil society?

Did it concern you when President Obama canceled U.S. missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic on Sept. 17, 2009 — the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland?

Were you troubled when Mr. Obama signed the New START treaty — which required no cuts in Russian nuclear forces — with Russia on April 8, 2010?

Were you worried when a microphone caught Obama telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on March 26, 2012, that he’d have “more flexibility” after the 2012 elections?

Did you think it was a bad sign when Russia kicked the U.S. Agency for International Development aid agency out of the country in September 2012, shortly thereafter quit a program on weapons of mass destruction and expelled pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations?

Did you think it was dangerous when the Magnitsky Act, which targeted human rights abusers, passed only as part of a December 2012 deal that gave the White House what it wanted — closer trade ties with Russia? Or when the White House gutted the act by applying it to only 18 low-level officials?

Did you suspect that Russia might not be friendly when WikiLeaks collaborator Edward Snowden fled to Moscow on June 23, 2013?

How about when massive Russian hacks of the White House and the State Department were exposed in October 2014?

Did you think Obama was wrong to oppose the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s unanimous support in March 2015 for helping Ukraine resist Russia by supplying Kiev with lethal military aid?

Did you see a strong U.S. response when Russia advanced farther into Georgia, in violation of the cease-fire terms of Russia’s 2008 invasion, in July 2015?

Does it trouble you the United States took Russia’s side in the Syrian civil war by agreeing, as Obama put it in December 2015, to respect Iran’s “equities” — in other words, the rule of Syrian dictator and killer Bashar Assad?

Did you hear the United States speak out strongly when a British investigation in January 2016 implicated Putin in the killing — in London, with radioactive polonium — of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko?

Or when repeated reports, starting this past July, exposed a Russian doping conspiracy at all recent Olympic Games?

Were you suspicious when Russia transferred air defense systems to Iran in October, thereby helping to insulate Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran?

And were you embarrassed when John Kerry ended his tenure as secretary of state pathetically trying to negotiate a Syrian cease-fire with the Russians, a deal that leaves Assad in power?

If you weren’t worried about Russia then, but you are now — well, you’re not wrong to worry.

But you are a hypocrite.

This piece originally appeared in Newsday