Friday, January 20, 2017

Obama, Whom Moscow Placed Great Hopes In, Couldn’t Make a Deal with Putin -- Because of Putin, Portnikov say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – Moscow officials and commentators have treated Barack Obama with “unconcealed hatred” at the end of his presidency, blaming him for the absence of an agreement between Washington and Moscow and forgetting how they welcomed him eight years ago and how he pursued “the reset,” Vitaly Portnikov says.
            On the Grani portal today, the Ukrainian analyst says that Moscow outlets are presenting Obama now as “a failure, ‘an imperialist,’ an enemy of Russia, and as someone who tried to block history itself which had opened its parade route for the Putin motorcade” (
            But when Obama was first elected, Portnikov continues, many of these same officials and commentators welcomed him as representing a break from the Bush years or at least as a better outcome for Moscow than a victory by his Republican opponent.  And they particularly greeted his pursuit of “a reset” of relations between Moscow and Washington.

            And it is important to remember, the analyst says, that “this was a reset not with the Russia of Yeltsin with whom Clinton found democracy in his heart, and even not with the Russia of the early Putin, into whose soul George Bush looked.” Instead, it was “the same Russia” the civilized world has to deal with today.

            What is that state? One ruled by a clutch of bandits who will do anything to preserve their wealth and power, one where free media have been destroyed, where elections are rigged, and one where Moscow feels free to invade neighboring countries such as Georgia (and more recently Ukraine). In short, an international outcast.

            But today, Moscow outlets blame Obama for the failure of the reset just as they have blamed every American president for failing to come to terms with whatever Russia does and whatever Russia want and for not seeing that Russia is on the right side of history and that they are not.

            And thus the facts of the case are these: “Obama didn’t reach agreement with Putin not because he was an arrogant idiot.” He didn’t because he “was a gentleman who wanted honor from someone who was incapable of it” and who despite his efforts to find a way forward was always rewarded with “demonstrated deception.”

            That is how Moscow has always behaved and how it has always treated American presidents, Portnikov says; and he implies that Donald Trump will suffer the same fate.  Undoubtedly, Trump will try to make a deal: “the American political tradition itself condemns him to such an attempt.”

            But the Russian political tradition as embodied in the Kremlin dictator dooms this effort from the start, something that is likely to become obvious to all before very long.

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