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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us": Obama Is Not a Wimp!

Observe how much of Thomas Friedman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/opinion/friedman-why-putin-doesnt-respect-us.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=0) is devoted to the issue of Obama's masculinity. Friedman writes:

"There is much nonsense being written about how Vladimir Putin showed how he is 'tougher' than Barack Obama and how Obama now needs to demonstrate his manhood.

. . . .

So spare me the Putin-body-slammed-Obama prattle. This isn’t All-Star Wrestling."

Well, if the shoe fits . . .

As you know, the White House recently released a picture of President Obama in denim and matching button-down shirt, one arm akimbo, sleeves carefully rolled up almost to the elbows, discussing with Putin the Russian invasion of Crimea. (I don't know the make of his watch.) Okay readers, kindly let me know which of the following two images has Putin more frightened:



or




I know it's a difficult question, but if I was forced to make a wager, I would bet on Pajama Boy.

But more to the point, Friedman is now painting Putin as something of a monster:

"For a long time, Putin has exploited the humiliation and anti-Western attitudes NATO expansion triggered to gain popularity, but this seems to have become so fundamental to his domestic politics that it has locked him into a zero-sum relationship with the West that makes it hard to see how we collaborate with him in more serious trouble spots, like Syria or Iran. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is engaged in monstrous, genocidal behavior that also threatens the stability of the Middle East."

It's "hard to see" how we collaborate with Putin in Syria and Iran? At least Friedman got that right. Acceptance by Obama of Putin's "mediation" involving Iran and Syria was a true disaster, illustrating Obama's naivete.

Exclude Russia now from the G8? What if Putin then decides that he longer wants to be a part of the P5+1, thus putting an end to Obama's meaningless negotiations with Iran for the cessation of its nuclear weapons development program? And what if Putin also decides to withdraw his support for the specious agreement to which Obama is a party, pursuant to which Assad is supposed to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles?

Yes, Putin has Obama at his mercy.

As part of his solution to this conundrum, Tom Terrific proposes:

"I’d also raise our gasoline tax, put in place a carbon tax and a national renewable energy portfolio standard — all of which would also help lower the global oil price (and make us stronger, with cleaner air, less oil dependence and more innovation)."

Higher gasoline taxes? Imagine the impact of this move on a fragile American economy.

Most remarkable of all, observe Friedman's about-face concerning the dangers posed by Putin. A mere one week ago, Friedman was telling us in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Don’t Just Do Something. Sit There." (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/opinion/friedman-dont-just-do-something-sit-there.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0) that the Cold War had been won by the US:

"The Cold War was a unique event that pitted two global ideologies, two global superpowers, each with globe-spanning nuclear arsenals and broad alliances behind them. Indeed, the world was divided into a chessboard of red and black, and who controlled each square mattered to each side’s sense of security, well-being and power. It was also a zero-sum game, in which every gain for the Soviet Union and its allies was a loss for the West and NATO, and vice versa.

That game is over. We won."

The game is over and we won? Not with Obama busy snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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