Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Obama is going out in a blaze of self-interest

Of all Barack Obama’s costumes, the most ill-fitting is that of the hawk. The guise doesn’t work for all sorts of ideological and historical reasons. Plus there’s the fact that he’s rushing to put on the outfit as he’s heading out the door.
The new sanctions against Russia are fine with me on the merits, even if they are remarkably tardy and being sold in no small part for domestic, political reasons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been undermining American interests for a long time now. From the annexation of Crimea and a shadow war in Ukraine to his unabashed support for the butcher Bashar Assad in Syria, Putin has given the Obama administration every excuse to punch back. But until last week, Obama’s response had been to offer various and sundry diplomatic “off-ramps” and a little bit of tongue-lashing.
General dovishness combined with the single-minded pursuit of a deal with Iran led Obama to insist that we should avoid “provoking” Russia.


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