So who’s in charge of Russia? Dmitri Medvedev, whose position of President is officially in charge of all major foreign policy matters, or Prime Minister, ex-President, and all around tough guy Vladimir Putin? Putin sure behaves like he’s the man behind the Bear, and with this latest foray into Moscow’s foreign affairs, he is cementing this view in GPP’s eyes. On December 30th, Putin asserted that the START nuclear weapon deal being negotiated between Russia and the United States would go nowhere as long as the US continued to develop a defensive missile shield. Putin warned that unless Washington DC came clean on this issue, Moscow would have to ‘go ahead with a new class of offensive nuclear missiles’. In other words, Putin is not happy with the already sweet deal that is START (Russia’s nuclear would be reductions are for the most part already obsolete or downtrodden) and the Obama administration’s decision to cancel the missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. He wants even more concessions!
I guess I shouldn’t be too worried about this Putin position, as it likely is just a negotiating gambit to get the best START deal possible for Moscow, but then I read this quote and started to believe that my fears of the Obama administration giving in to more Russian demands had merit. Alexandros Petersen, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said this about Putin’s government:
“They view Obama as somewhat of an anomaly in U.S. foreign policy, and START is for decades”
In other words, Obama is a true believer in getting rid of nuclear weapons anyway how and will be a tremendously pliable negotiating partner. Petersen went on to say: “You give them a finger and they take an arm. With this statement [from Putin], the debate has shifted completely.”
I still have confidence that the START deal won’t turn out to be too hurtful to US interests and that the Obama administration is a tougher negotiator than either Putin or Petersen believes, but this is still a bit disconcerting. One has to be glad that American Founding Fathers were prescient and wise enough to require all foreign treaties to get 2/3 majority Senate confirmation.
The Petersen quote above does indeed raise the larger question of whether or not Obama is really an ‘anomaly’ in US foreign policy history, present, and future. Many have argued that President George W. Bush was such a thing. In fact, I have a feeling that every president has been called something close to this during their tenure. It is still a provocative question worth thinking about though. Do you think President Obama is a foreign policy ‘anomaly’? In what ways exactly? Do you think that other world leaders view him as such? And if this is true, than wouldn’t that dramatically affect their positions and tactics toward the US during this time period?
After you’re done answering these questions, go and have yourself a Happy New Year!
(Side question: Because states like China and Iran will not be celebrating the new year tonight does that hurt their status in the GPP rankings? Yes, yes it does.)