By Bob Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
Posted March 28, 2012
In the fight to preserve our liberty, it’s natural to focus our attention on our internal affairs. The questions are many and pressing: Who will win in November? When will the U.S.economy recover? Will Congress ever act to curb deficit spending? What about unsustainable entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare? How will the U.S. Supreme Court rule on the Affordable Care Act?Domestic issues dominate our thoughts – and media cutbacks have reduced coverage of foreign events other than royal weddings and natural disasters. Yet it’s not paranoid to assert that the world remains a dangerous place. Indeed, evidence uncovered in disrupted plots shows that terrorists who despise our way of life are persistently plotting to attack our interests around the globe and, if we let our guard down, on American soil.Meanwhile, various nations are seeking to upstage America’s role as a military superpower and a commercial juggernaut whose economy remains the world’s largest by far. Peaceful competition can be a great motivator for improvements in fields such as education, industrial productivity, and energy independence, but the United States must nonetheless be aware of the consequences if it lost its edge.Therefore, a firm resolve on vital issues involving foreign policy and national defense remains necessary and — because it serves as a deterrent against potential foes – is also an asset in the quest to preserve world peace. Conversely, any sign of appeasement or weakness could cause potential enemies to miscalculate our resolve. That’s why it was disappointing and a matter of legitimate concern to read of President Obama’s off-the-cuff remarks into an open microphone that Mr. Obama obviously didn’t realize was live.Those remarks, uttered in Seoul, South Korea, and intended for outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to pass along to his authoritarian successor Vladimir Putin, were reported by ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper:
“At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him “space.” The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders. The exchange:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, 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 …
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”Meanwhile, it’s a far more worrisome matter for the President of the United States to suggest that if he’s re-elected, he’ll be more willing to yield on various points of disagreement with Russia, including America’s deployment of defensive missiles in Europe, Russia’s support of the trouble-making regime in Iran, and Russia’s use of its United Nations veto to block effective sanctions against Syrian dictator Assad’s slaughter of protestors. Moreover, under Putin’s rule, Russiahas regressed toward an authoritarian state that bullies its neighbors and suppresses internal dissent. For a chilling account of Putin’s version of crony capitalism, read today’s Wall Street Journal column “Russia’s Steve Biko” by Bret Stephens.Mr. Stephens describes in detail the Putin regime’s persecution of Sergei Magnitsky, “a mild-mannered, middle-class tax attorney fromMoscowwho spent the last of his 37 years in a filthy Russian prison before dying in November 2009 of medical neglect and physical torture.” The columnist adroitly compares Magnitsky to the victim of a notorious incident that attracted worldwide attention and condemnation 25 years ago:“In 1977, anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko was arrested by South African police, clubbed to within an inch of his life, chained, stripped, manacled, denied care and ultimately left to die in a car. More appalling was the apartheid regime’s response to his murder: denial, followed by cover-up, followed by professions of indifference to Biko’s suffering.”The Putin regime is arguably becoming as bad as South Africa’s terrible apartheid regime was and quite possibly even worse. Therefore, when President Medvedev said to President Obama, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” it’s unfortunate that the “information” to be transmitted isn’t “We’ll be watching you” but, instead was something like this: “After my pesky re-election, which unfortunately can’t be rigged quite as much as yours was, I’ll be ready and eager to cozy up to you.”In a dangerous world, such a message of appeasement and accommodation is a dangerous message to send to anyone – but especially to a known thug.