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Published: Sunday, 7/27/2008

Obama fails to grasp danger of appeasing Russian leaders

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has just scored big, winning over hundreds of thousands.

Unfortunately for Senator Obama (D., Ill.), none of these hundreds of thousands will cast a single ballot in the November election. That is because they are citizens of the Russian Federation - Kremlin sycophants, to be more precise.

Here's the rub.

Mr. Obama has opposed excluding Russia from the Group of Eight industrial (and presumably) democratic nations - which include Canada but not China - for the sake of keeping Russia involved in nuclear nonproliferation.

"It would be a mistake," Mr. Obama told CNN. "Look, if we're going to do something about nuclear proliferation, just to take one issue that I think is as important as any on the list, we've got to have Russia involved."

He was responding to his Republican rival John McCain's suggestion that the increasingly rogue former superpower should be kicked out of the elite club of nations.

We must be thankful Mr. Obama did not suggest Russia's membership in the G-8 be doubled so its self-serving leadership duo can attend in full force to better cast itself at home and abroad as having a worldwide acceptance.

It is no secret that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is a figurehead, a facade for the man in charge - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. So why not indulge Mr. Putin's insecurities and his need for affiliation with the world's most powerful?

Here's why: Appeasing Russia has not worked.

Consider the developments such appeasement has spurred:

•Russia has cast NATO enlargement as a direct threat.

•Every U.S. military involvement in the world - from the U.S. military bases in Central Asia to deployment of a nuclear missile shield in Europe - is used by the Kremlin to vilify the United States.

•Russia has used its fossil fuel wealth to intimidate its neighbors such as Ukraine, Georgia, Estonia, and Latvia in an attempt to undermine their pro-Western governments.

Moreover, the Kremlin has been militarizing and saber-rattling for the purpose of "consolidating" the populace in the face of a fictional threat from a trusted Cold War foe - the West.

The Kremlin has successfully used the nuclear nonproliferation card to blackmail the West into turning a blind eye on a restart of tyranny in Russia.

Using language from the Cold War era, Russia's official ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Mr. Medvedev as saying that his nation will have to "adequately respond to the deployment of the U.S. missile defense elements in Eastern Europe." Security "cannot keep on a prayer," the president reportedly said.

This is exactly the language the Kremlin used in regard to President Reagan's Star Wars program in the 1980s. And the best way to keep Russia in check would be a strong rejection, a la Mr. Reagan, who once declared the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire."

It worked. Why not try it again? After all, security cannot keep on a prayer, to quote Mr. Medvedev.

Finally, Russians were not suicidal back in the time of Mr. Reagan to be spreading nuclear weapons at their own peril. And they are not suicidal now.

They are unlikely to allow the spread of nuclear weapons for fear of those weapons ending up in the hands of Muslim radicals. The Kremlin is paranoid about Muslims because of the Russian troops' notorious record of using excessive force in the predominantly Muslim Chechnya.

The bottom line: Appeasement is no way to deal with Russia. Russians are best impressed with force.

Take it from a Russian, Mr. Obama.



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