Dear Glenn Greenwald

Ken AshfordElection 2016, Obama OppositionLeave a Comment

Dear Glenn Greenwald:

I read your article in The Intercept which basically asserts hypocrisy on the part of Democrats/Obama when it comes to Putin.  You are correct in pointing out that Obama himself suggested a “reset” with Russia, that Obama did not want to go to war with Russia over that country’s invasion of the Crimea, and that Obama suggested working in military partnership with Russia when it comes to Syria.  And this is why you state that Obama has been giving “accommodation” to Putin, so Democrats shouldn’t throw stones when Trump praises Putin.

But, of course, therein lies the difference.  Obama has chosen to ease tensions with Russia, but has failed largely because of Putin’s human rights violations and global aggression.  Trump, on the other hand, seems eager to praise Putin for two reasons (1) Putin’s so-called “strength” — which comes in part from the fact that the Russians under Putin don’t have much of a system of checks and balances; and (2) Putin praises Trump.

Nobody can suggest that Obama praises Putin (and if he did, he certainly doesn’t do it out of vanity and narcissism).  Obama has exhibited a willingness to get along with Russia, but he is unwilling to roll over.  Trump, on the other hand, has shown that he can be rolled over, if only by receiving praise.  This is an entirely different US-Russia strategy than the one for which you criticize Obama.  Trump is already exhibiting capitulation, not just accommodation.

Or take the Russian hacking of the DNC and quite possibly the government.  You take Obama to task for not engaging in some retaliation.  First of all, we don’t know that.  But assuming that is true, he certainly calls Putin out on that sort of thing.  Compare that to Trump, who goes on state-run Russian television, and expresses doubt that Russia was behind the hacking at all!!

To equate Obama and Trump in their approach to Russia is to ignore glaring differences between the two men.  Obama’s approach to Russia is measured; he exhibits caution.  Trump has cast aside all caution.  And for that, criticism directed at him is apropos.  Obama’s approach to Russia is arguably flawed, but Trump’s approach is objectively outlandish and alarming.