Monday, September 21, 2009

Actions Have Meaning

I find this thinking astounding in its lack of appreciation for what the presidency is:

President Barack Obama sharply dismisses criticism that Russian opposition influenced his decision to scrap a European missile defense system, calling it merely a bonus if the leaders of Russia end up "a little less paranoid" about the U.S.

"My task here was not to negotiate with the Russians," Obama told CBS' "Face the Nation" in an interview for broadcast Sunday. "The Russians don't make determinations about what our defense posture is."

For a president famous for saying "words have meaning," this is an amazing lack of understanding about the effects of anything he does as president of the United States. Actions, too, have meaning.

Even if the president's decision to gut our missile plans in Eastern Europe had nothing to do with Russian demands, it was viewed by the East European leaders as a a betrayal--especially given the date the Poles and Czechs were informed of our decision.

And since Russia was in fact demanding what the president did, the Russians will feel emboldened no matter what the president says, believing that Russia did compel the president to decide as he did. Or does the president really think that the Russians believe the president just happened to make the decision that undermines our credibility and enhances Russia's position and status?

As for making the Russians a little less paranoid? That ship sailed long ago. Russia's leaders are doing a fine job all on their own stoking their own paranoia. What we do won't affect that very much for very long. Give the Russians time. They'll be back up to pre-missile cancellation levels of nuts in a very short period.