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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bill Keller, "Russia vs. Europe": The World Needs Mandelas, but Instead Gets Putins . . . and Obamas

Bill Keller's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Russia vs. Europe" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/opinion/keller-russia-vs-europe.html) begins:

"The world needs Nelson Mandelas. Instead, it gets Vladimir Putins. As the South African hero was being sung to his grave last week, the Russian president was bullying neighboring Ukraine into a new customs union that is starting to look a bit like Soviet Union Lite, and consolidating his control of state-run media by creating a new Kremlin news agency under a nationalistic and homophobic hard-liner."

However, the rise of an autocratic, "new Cold War" oriented Vladimir Putin would not have been possible without the cringing flaccid foreign policy of Barack Obama. In a New York Times article entitled "Saudi Prince Criticizes Obama Administration, Citing Indecision in Mideast" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/world/middleeast/saudi-prince-accuses-obama-of-indecision-on-middle-east.html?hpw&rref=us&_r=0) by Steven Erlanger, we are told what Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia had to say about Obama on Sunday:

"'We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,' said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia. 'When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.' He added, 'There is an issue of confidence.'

Mr. Obama has his problems, the prince said, but when a country has strong allies, 'you should be able to give them the assurance that what you say is going to be what you do.' The prince no longer has any official position but has lately been providing the public expression of internal Saudi views with clear approval from the Saudi government."

Or stated more simply, the Saudis regard Obama as a coward.

But of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Obama's obeisant attitude toward Putin was broadcast to the world as the result of the open microphone incident involving Russia's Medvedev.

Well, Putin sure as heck got the promise of "flexibility" and has been acting on it.

Remarkably - or perhaps as might be expected - Keller's op-ed of today's date never mentions Obama when describing the ascendancy of Vladimir Putin on the world stage.



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