In response to Putin ‘Infuriated’ by Obama’s ‘Bored Kid’ Remark:
Remember the great strides the Obama administration made back in 2009 to “reset” relations with Russia after Bush’s supposedly embarrassing and inept reign?
The grown-ups were now in charge and “smart power” would rule the day. It turned out “smart power” meant selling out Eastern Europe on missile defense by that Fall, and allowing Russia to inspect our nuclear sites. Russia then thanked Obama by rejecting the mere notion of sanctions on Iran.
Charles Krauthammer said at the time:
The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naivete, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.
If my Russian sources are reliable, the answer is that Obama is viewed there mostly with amusement. Some of the amusement stems from his trip to Russia this summer. My sources were amused by the flotilla of Air Force jets that brought him and his entourage to Moscow. They were also taken with (but not necessarily impressed by) the fact that Obama and his crew took over the Ritz Carlton hotel, where rooms start at around $1,200 per night and the presidential suite goes for $13,000.
The Marriott had been good enough for Presidents Clinton and Bush. Rooms there — described as similar to Marriott rooms in the U.S. — can be had for around $350. I was also told (but have not been able to confirm) that Bush himself stayed at the Ambassador’s residence, rather than in a hotel as Obama did.
Russia has seen self-aggrandizing, luxury loving heads of state before. What really has turned Russian heads, according to my sources, is Obama’s eagerness to give things away. The Russians, you see, are hard-nosed. They drive hard bargains in their dealings with themselves and perhaps harder still with outsiders. They may even take what they can’t get through hard bargaining when you’re not looking.
Throughout the Cold War, except to some extent during the Carter years, the U.S. responded more or less in kind to Russian hard-bargaining. In the modern era, President Bush, prodded by Vice President Cheney, eventually did so as well.
It probably never occurred to the Russians that a U.S. president would come to power hoping to “reset” relations with Russia on some basis other than the hard bargain and the “trust but verify” mentality. Yet this is precisely what has fallen into the Kremlin’s lap. From what I’ve heard, the Russian elites can neither believe their good fortune nor hide their amusement.
So it should come as no surprise that 3 1/2 years later, the Russians would thumb their noses at Obama after he “put them on notice” that there would be “consequences” if Russia refused to hand over Edward Snowden. As Charles Krauthammer noted, “nobody cares or worries about what Obama says, because his words carry no weight.”
Putin clearly has no use for Obama.
As for the supposedly hated and reviled “cowboy” GW Bush, Putin said in an interview with CNN’s Larry King in 2010:
“They were warm relations,” he said through a translator. “(A) good, kind, human relationship. He visited me in my house. I visited him in his house, including at his ranch house (in Crawford).
“We have different views on many issues involved, of course. But one thing is for sure, George Bush the junior is a very decent fellow. I think he’s a very nice partner, too.”
Putin said he also was impressed with former President George H.W. Bush. He said the Bushes are ” a very good family. I was very pleased when I visited his father’s house in human terms. Yes.
“But still, we had different approaches while dealing with the same questions at hand.”
Yes, there were disagreements. But there was also respect and admiration.
Update: I almost forgot to mention: Russia sends warships to Mediterranean as Syria tension rises:
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is sending two warships to the east Mediterranean, Interfax news agency said on Thursday, but Moscow denied this meant it was beefing up its naval force there as Western powers prepare for military action against Syria.