‘Flexibility’ sparks post-election fears (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) Benny Avni 03/27/12)
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President Obama’s chummy open-mic exchange with Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev yesterday sounded very much like his foreign-policy
Etch A Sketch moment.
The two were finishing a conversation at the Seoul nuclear-security
summit. Obama was referring to Moscow’s real power, incoming
President Vladimir Putin, in comments made as reporters filed into
the room for a photo opportunity.
Here’s what the leaders said, unaware that the press could hear:
Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this,
this can be solved — but it’s important for him to give me space.”
Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space.
Space for you —”
Obama: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more
Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to
It certainly sounds like a promise that Obama’s recent foreign-policy
toughness will fade away once he’s won re-election.
Remember: Early on, Obama announced a “reset” in US relations with
Russia, scrapping an anti-missile project in Poland and the Czech
Republic in favor of ambitious agreements with Moscow on nuclear-arms
We’re still trying to regain the trust of the Poles and Czechs —
America’s most loyal European allies, who lived for too many decades
under Russia’s boot to trust Moscow’s promises.
Then this year the reset was reset. Mutual accusations between Moscow
and Washington culminated in a high-profile outburst when one of
Obama’s top foreign-policy advisers, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, told
the Security Council she was “disgusted” by Moscow’s veto of a
resolution condemning Bashar al-Assad’s atrocity-ridden rule in
Syria. Obama has recently toughened his rhetoric on Assad, who he’d
courted earlier on. Will Washington be more “flexible” after
November, assenting to the butcher’s continued reign?
Meanwhile, the administration has sought to strike a markedly more
pro-Israel stance, especially when it comes to Iran’s drive to build
“Containment is not an option,” Obama vowed at a meeting of the pro-
Israel lobby, AIPAC, earlier this month. And: “The US will always
have Israel’s back.
Give me space. . . This is my last election. The meant-to-be-private
words undermine every firm public utterance the preside* t has made
in recent months.
Another cause for doubt: A Tunisian student asked Hillary Clinton
last month about hardening pro-Israel statements in Washington. The
secretary of state replied: “You will learn as your democracy
develops that a lot of things are said in political campaigns that
should not bear a lot of attention.”
In Seoul this weekend, Obama hopped over for a visit of the
demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. Comparing that division
to the former separation of Germany, the president sounded almost
Reaganesque, saying that unification will surely arrive, and “The
Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free.”
But what about next year? Will he stick with that theme or go back to
appeasing Kim Jong-un?
Yesterday’s open-mic remark was heard loud and clear by Poles,
Czechs, Koreans, Georgians, Japanese, Taiwanese, Arabs who hate
dictators, Iranians who are tired of mullahs who bankrupt them in
pursuit of regional supremacy and Israelis who trust America as their
only world ally.
The president’s detractors have long accused him of being too
friendly with America’s enemies and downright hostile to our friends.
In the last few months, he’s managed, eloquently, to dispel much of
that concern. But how long will it last?
After my election, I have more flexibility. (Copyright 2012 NYP
Holdings, Inc. 03/27/12)
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