Obama

Obama’s Brussels Speech

The Kyiv Post has the full text of President Obama’s speech at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels today:

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/world/full-text-president-obama-gives-speech-addressing-russia-and-ukraine-on-march-26-341010.html

Excerpt:

…the world has an interest in a strong and responsible Russia, not a weak one. And we want the Russian people to live in security, prosperity, and dignity like everyone else – proud of their own history. But that does not mean that Russia can run roughshod over its neighbors. Just because Russia has a deep history with Ukraine does not mean it should be able to dictate Ukraine’s future. No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.

In the end, every society must chart its own course. America’s path – or Europe’s path – is not the only ways to reach freedom and justice. But on the fundamental principle that is at stake here – the ability of nations and peoples to make their own choices – there can be no going back. It is not America that filled the Maidan with protesters – it was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up – they did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform, to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa – we see something irreducible that all of us share as human beings; a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and, ultimately, overcome it.

Nothing in return

Eurasia Daily Monitor, on an unlikely project:  

The U.S.-Russia joint working group on civil society issues is widely seen as representing a U.S. unilateral concession, rather than a classical trade-off. The United States is receiving nothing in return for accepting the deputy chief of Russia’s presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, and other Kremlin “political technologists” to predominate on the Russian side of this “civil society group.” Surkov, a godfather of Nashi, will be co-chairing the civil society working group alongside Michael McFaul, the U.S. White House senior adviser on Russia. In Moscow, Clinton said that she expects the Russia expert McFaul to manage this group effectively (Ekho Moskvy, October 14).

Compromising positions

In a post which among other things assesses Obama’s Russia, Middle East and China policy in the light of historical precedents, Ted Lipien looks back at another U.S. president who, in all good faith, tried to “reset” East-West relations. He also has some words of advice for Hillary Clinton, after her Moscow visit:

Appeasing the Kremlin and the Chinese communists in the hope of winning concessions makes such concessions far less likely, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found out during her humilating visit to Moscow last week.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Medvedev couldn’t be more brutal in telling her that putting pressure on Iran to end its nuclear programs was not in Russia’s national interest, when in fact they meant their own interest. Prime Minister Putin went to China and was not around to receive her.

In fact any Russian scholar with a good sense of realism could have told President Obama that the current leaders in Russia want the U.S. out of Eastern Europe but don’t believe that they owe America anything if the Americans leave. They will also continue to rely on anti-Americanism to consolidate their power internally. They want oil prices to be as high as possible, and therefore want tensions to be high in the Middle East. For that reason, they want the United States to be bogged down both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The only thing that the Obama Administration should expect from the Kremlin are Russian concessions that would allow the U.S. to continue and expand military operations in these two Muslim nations.

Charles Krauthammer has more.

Two options

Stratfor’s George Friedman writes that

Sanctions or war remain the two options, and which one is chosen depends on Moscow’s actions. The leaks this weekend have made clear that the United States and Israel have positioned themselves such that not much time remains. We have now moved from a view of Iran as a long-term threat to Iran as a much more immediate threat thanks to the Russians.

Hat tip: Mari-Ann Kelam