Charles Krauthammer’s Aug. 28 op-ed column, “What 6 years of ‘reset’ have wrought,” was far too kind to the Obama administration’s “misjudgments” and mishandling of the Russian relationship.
Among the issues Mr. Krauthammer ignored was the lead-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Obama administration fretted and fussed over whether a Russian law about advocating certain kinds of sexual behavior would create a hostile environment for visiting gay athletes. Russian President Vladimir Putin must have smiled as he listened to this and planned the Crimean takeover, which took place shortly after the Olympics. Are our intelligence services so bad and our diplomats so misinformed that they missed this?
And then there was Syria. As President Obama was busy drawing lines of various kinds in the sand, who saved him? Mr. Putin brokered the arrangement that purportedly stopped the use of poison gas on civilians by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Mr. Obama gratefully accepted his intervention.
Mr. Obama would be wise to heed Winston Churchill’s admonition in his “Iron Curtain” speech given at Westminster College in March 1946: “[T]here is nothing [Russians] admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness.”
John B. Tieder Jr., Annapolis
Charles Krauthammer described President Obama’s policies toward Russia as weak and clueless. As evidence, Mr. Krauthammer cited, among other examples, the pending sale of Russian S-300 missiles to Iran, Russia’s 2014 kidnapping of an Estonian security official, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the Egyptian president’s recent visits to Moscow and the Saudis’ recent invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to travel to Riyadh.
Russia offered the S-300 missiles to Iran while President George W. Bush, whom Mr. Krauthammer supported, was in office. That offer was rescinded in 2010 under U.S. and allied pressure as part of nuclear sanctions on Iran. Mr. Putin visited Saudi Arabia in 2007, welcomed Hosni Mubarak to Moscow, sent his troops into neighboring Georgia and allegedly ordered the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London, all while Mr. Bush was president.
Rather than showing Mr. Obama’s policies to be at fault for Russian behavior, Mr. Krauthammer’s examples demonstrated that Russia under Mr. Putin is a dangerous and unreliable actor no matter who is in the White House.
Jeffrey Goldberg, Rockville