Prescience, thy name is not the New York Times editorial board.
One is reminded of an editorial the Times wrote in March of2012, wherein it excoriated the naïve Mitt Romney for declaring that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical threat.
Romney was reacting to the fact that President Obama—fearless warrior that he is—had asked then Soviet president Dmitri Medvedev to tell Vladimir Putin that after the American election he would have more flexibility in dealing with Russia.
As the old saying goes, no truer words have ever been spoken. You did not have to be very astute to figure out that, when Obama spoke of “flexibility” he was talking about his own weakness, his ability to bend over backwards… or is it forwards… to accommodate. Surely, Putin understood the message correctly.
Whatever Obama meant, it is impossible not to see that he has been more than accommodating to Russia and, by the way, to America’s other great enemy, Iran.
As for the Times editorial board, it had this to say:
Two decades after the end of the cold war, Mitt Romney still considers Russia to be America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” His comments display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics. Either way, they are reckless and unworthy of a major presidential contender.
Mr. Romney couldn’t wait to pounce when President Obama told President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia — in a conversation at a nuclear arms summit meeting picked up by a microphone — that he would have more flexibility on missile defense and other arms issues after the election.
Speaking of reckless and unworthy, does anyone imagine that Obama’s foreign policy has been characterized by the astute use of power and diplomacy?
The Times was especially agitated over the fact that Romney suggested that Obama was weak and would cave on a host of issues:
Mr. Romney accused Mr. Obama of signaling that, postelection, he would “cave” on missile defense. In Foreign Policy Magazine on Tuesday, Mr. Romney accused him of bowing to Russia on nuclear arms cuts and Iran. That is not true.
Clearly, the Times could not accept that Romney was calling out Obama for a will to surrender to our enemies. It could not accept him being characterized as cowardly.
And yet, in the recent Iran nuclear deal the Obama administration caved on everything it could cave on. Even the strict inspections it promised are being conducted on material provided by Iran itself.
Romney was more right than even he imagined.
As for America’s prior commitment to grant Eastern European countries missile defense capability, the Times was happy to see Obama cave in to Russian pressure:
Two years ago, he[Obama] made a sound strategic decision, scrapping former President George W. Bush’s dubious plan to build a long-range missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Pentagon is deploying a less-ambitious — but-more-feasible — system of interceptors and sensors, first on ships and later on land. Russia objects to a system in Europe, saying it will put their long-range missiles at risk. That is not America’s intent — the real target is Iran — and Mr. Obama is right to work to find a compromise.
As for Putin, the Times had this to say:
His support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is unconscionable.
How has the Obama administration managed the relationship between Putin and Assad? We do not even need to ask.
As for the relationship with Russia, the Times declared that Obama should support democracy in Russia. Yes, indeed, that was certainly the way to go:
But Russia can’t be wished away or denounced away. It has to be challenged and the relationship managed with vigilance and skepticism. The administration was right to express concerns about the stolen parliamentary election — drawing verbal attacks on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — and to try to publicly shame the Kremlin on Syria. Mr. Obama also needs to more firmly support democracy in Russia and remind Mr. Putin that many obstacles to cooperation are of his own making.
Today, the Daily Beast repeated a point made here and in many other places. The Obama administration has completely abrogated its leadership responsibilities in the Middle East, handing the baton to Vladimir Putin:
There’s a new decision-maker in the U.S. war against ISIS. But he’s not a general in the Pentagon or a minister in Damascus or Baghdad.
His office is the Kremlin and his name is Vladimir Putin.
When it comes to a “shocking lack of knowledge about foreign affairs,” the Times editorial board has cornered the market. When it comes to “craven,” the other word the Times used to characterize Romney, on that score Obama has proven to be a world beater.