The icy relations between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have generated a good deal of chatter in the pundit class. The latest chapter in the back-and-forth between the two leaders of the former Cold War adversaries dealt with Russia granting temporary asylum to NSA leaker/whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Colby King, a panelist on “Inside Washington” and left-leaning columnist for The Washington Post, argued that Obama’s lack of tact could put the United States in a dangerous position — not only with Russia, but with other countries in the world as well.
“I do not think this is one of those things you can finesse,” King said. “The problems that we are facing the world — North Korea: no help, Syria: obstruction, Iran: obstruction, on international trade: no help, no help on nuclear nonproliferation. We have to face up to the fact that this is a real problem and it will have to be game on. Putin’s take on Obama, and I’m just speculating, I think it is a very dangerous one. I think he is reading a weakness there that is allowing him to be very aggressive and if Obama doesn’t stand up and push back, the other countries will also take a message from this. It is very important that the United States on this question with Russia demonstrates it is the stronger power.”
King’s colleague at the Post and fellow panelist on “Inside Washington” Charles Krauthammer agreed and added that Obama, unlike his predecessor George W. Bush, did not aim to appease Putin.
“He is not only weak, but naïve,” Krauthammer added. “I can imagine Putin imagine ‘Who is this guy?’ He is a lightweight. Remember, reset was a form of appeasement. It’s a way of saying the cold relations are our fault, when in fact it was a result of Russian war on Georgia. And what Obama has done is to offer all kinds of goodies. Bush might have misread [Putin] … but he did not give away the missile defense in Eastern Europe as Obama did, and that is appeasement. That is a big difference.”