Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Obama´s Russia "reset" - "Giving the thugocracy whatever it wants"

Michael A. McFaul is Barack Obama´s pick for the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow. McFaul is "a trusted adviser who helped engineer the "reset" in the U.S.-Russia relations three years ago, reports the Washington Post. 

Jennifer Rubin, in her WP column reminds us that new ambassador frequently spoke contemptously about the Russian policy of the Bush administration:  

He reeled off the problems with Russia (authoritarianism, economic failure) and blamed the Bush team.
In 2007 he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “For many years, President Bush and some members of his foreign policy team downplayed the significance of these anti-democratic trends in Russia. Three major assumptions shaped the Bush’s Russian policy: (1) Putin’s antidemocratic moves were a logical and temporary response to the anarchy of the 1990s, but the long-term trend in governance was still positive; (2) even if Putin did not share our values, he was a rational pragmatist with whom we could do business; and (3) Bush’s close personal relationship with Putin could be leveraged when needed to persuade the Russian president to do the right thing. To varying degrees, all of these assumptions have now proven to be erroneous.”

The same McFaul is now Obama´s point man on Russia. How is he doing?, Rubin asks:

Let’s recap. Russian democracy is moribund. Putin and Medvedev are scooping up the goodies while Obama gets only photo-ops in return. Russia is arming to the teeth. And as Congress is using its leverage to put pressure on the regime, Obama is throwing open the doors to Russians. And McFaul? Well, ABC News reports, he cheerfully told the media that he is “playing sherpa” for Russia to gain entry to WTO. Apparently the post of valet was taken.

And the Bush administration’s Russian policy was too weak?

Read the entire article here

Flashback August 2008:
McFaul (then employed by the Carnegie Endowment) had this to say about the Russian invasion of Georgia:

We cant just stand by ideally (sic!) when one country invade another. Where does it stop? I know the Ukrainian government is extremely worried about their security right now.

Although at the same time criticizing the Bush administration´s "constrained" reaction to the events in Georgia, McFaul must have been elated by the arrival of his namesake at the Georgian port of Batumi:

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