Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Obama: Go to Moscow!

[Update August 7, 2014 - Thinking back on the events of the past twelve months . . . and the upcoming NATO Summit in Wales . . . I am moved to ask again, "What about talking to Putin?"]

[Update September 23, 2013 - in light of the evolution of the showdown over Syria, it is interesting to turn the calendar back and ask ... "What about that summit?"]

Call me a demanding citizen, but I think the President should get off his butt and go talk to the leader of Russia.  (Yes, Putin.)  It's his job.

There's been a lot of grumbling by Barack Obama and company about the decision by Russia to grant asylum to Edward J. Snowden.  Well, I'm sorry, but that's not a reason to stop talks that might take move us another step closer to eliminating nuclear weapons, lead to missile reductions, and defuse some of the violence in Syria, among other concerns.

Obama is scheduled to go to St. Petersburg in September for the G-20 meeting, and he was scheduled to meet one-on-one with Putin in Moscow.  Now he has cancelled the plan for the Moscow summit.

 It is, frankly, beyond my comprehension that Obama thinks he is free to stop talking just because he's angry.

By the way, as soon as the talks were cancelled, the administration started to obfuscate, saying that, well, they didn't have any agreements ready to sign in Moscow, so what was the point of talking?  But isn't that precisely the reason that they should be talking -- to reach agreement that doesn't yet exist?

The administration seems to realize its own position is ridiculous. They're now doing a press blitz about all the diplomatic legwork being done by the State and Defense secretaries -- as if that somehow renders a summit meeting superfluous.  Can they possibly be as feckless as they seem?

Some may ask: is the idea that Obama should meet with Putin incompatible with the idea that we oppose the harassment of LGBTQ people in Putin's Russia?

In my opinion, we need to be pro-active about both of these issues, which is to say:
  • Obama does need to go talk to Putin because many people are depending on agreements to end militarism and war that rest, in the end, with the two of them; AND
  • We do need to meet the harassment of LGBTQ people in Putin's Russia with a boycott of the Sochi Olympics.
(As to how the harassment of all people by the NSA and the surveillance state in Obama's USA -- more on that later.)

Our designated leaders have some big problems. But the people have work that needs to be done.

Related posts

Conveniently, a large military alliance -- NATO -- bristling with weapons, has announced itself ready to step in and contest annexations of territories by Russia. For NATO, the measure of resolvability of conflict is firepower.

(See Crimean War? Crimean Showdown? or Crimean Mediation? It's Time for Americans to Get Some New Vocabulary )

Perhaps the most troubling residue of the Syria crisis is that so much of our national discussion was centered on what our interests are, and whether we can force others to do what we want, and who our friends and who our enemies are. What's missing in all this is the question: what can we do to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria?

(See Syria: Where Have We Ended Up?)

How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?

(See 360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States))