Weekly column by Konstantin von Eggert
I cannot claim to understand the intricate domestic debate in the United States about “Obama-care.” One has to be American to figure out what the whole fuss is about on both sides. But that’s for Americans to judge.
Konstantin von Eggert
However, in the field of foreign affairs one can evaluate Barack Obama’s policies without carrying a US passport. And there, he definitely looks like Jimmy Carter, probably the weakest post-war US president. Apart from two steps – focusing on the alarming rise of China and eliminating Osama bin Laden – Obama’s first four years were marked by a hasty retreat from Iraq, the collapse of the allied effort in Afghanistan (to be followed by an even hastier upcoming withdrawal in 2014), a confused reaction to the so-called Arab Spring, near total oblivion for the Transatlantic relationship and caving in to the post-Soviet autocracies.
As a Russian I always thought that an engaged and strong American foreign policy is in Russia’s national interests, as the United States will be doing quite a few jobs the Russians themselves are unable or unwilling to do. Standing up to China, pacifying Afghanistan (now, alas, clearly a thing of the past) and fighting Islamist terror are prime examples here. The United States’ commitment to civic liberties always helped to keep autocrats all over the world on their toes.
Apart from a brief period in the early 1990s, Russia’s rulers never really liked the United States. But they always respected America. Not anymore. Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security advisor, is coming to Moscow to deliver a message to Vladimir Putin. In the wake of the expulsion of USAID from Russia, a wave of repressive legislative acts aimed at Russian civic society and, finally, the so-called “Anti-Magnitsky Law,” punishing Russian orphaned and sick children for the misdeeds of a few corrupt Russian civil servants, one would expect a frank exchange of views on the state of bilateral relations. But, if one believes the diplomatic rumour mill in Moscow, the message from the White House will seemingly be about a so-called “Reset-2” – an attempt to re-launch the relationship, after “Reset-1” largely failed to deliver. It seems that the main goal of “Reset-2” will be START-4 – yet another nuclear arms reduction treaty. Obama has a touching 1960s and 1970s attachment to nuclear disarmament, which increasingly looks to me like an honest attempt to earn his undeserved 2009 Nobel Peace Prize postfactum.
Vladimir Putin will grant Obama’s wish (it is in Russia’s interests too to continue trimming its ageing nuclear arsenal). But not before extracting a price from the White House. Non-interference in Russia’s domestic affairs and accepting Russia’s dominant role in the post-Soviet space will probably be among his demands. I am absolutely certain they will be granted.
Moreover, Putin’s view of Russia and himself seems to be much clearer and firmer than that of Obama regarding the United States. He wants to stay in power for as long as he considers right. He doesn’t want anyone to interfere with the decisions he takes. And he wants Russia – his Russia – to be respected in the old-fashioned Cold War way. Whether one agrees with Putin’s vision is a matter of taste and political conviction. But one cannot deny that when he sits down to talk with Western politicians, including the president of the United States, he knows very well what he wants to achieve. One may say this is because Putin has been running Russia for more than 13 years, and never faced a serious political or electoral challenge, while his counterparts have to struggle for re-election, fend off opposition challenges and juggle party politics and national interests. This is true. But hardly anyone in the West dares to contradict Putin – and he takes this as yet more proof that his international stature is assured. He likes to play geopolitics and to converse with the international affairs’ realist-in-chief Henry Kissinger. And he doesn’t like to talk about values. As long as foreign policy interaction remains a series of give-and-takes and does not involve any talk of the principles underpinning it, the Russian president will retain comfortable superiority not only over Tom Donilon, but over Tom Donilon’s boss, too.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
What is Russia's place in this world? Unashamed and unreconstructed Atlanticist, Konstantin von Eggert believes his country to be part and parcel of the "global West." And while this is a minority view in Russia, the author is prepared to fight from his corner.
Konstantin Eggert is a commentator and host for radio Kommersant FM, Russia's first 24-hour news station. In the 1990s he was Diplomatic Correspondent for “Izvestia” and later the BBC Russian Service Moscow Bureau Editor. Konstantin has also spent some time working as ExxonMobil Vice-President in Russia. He was made Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
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- Panthera Pardus[Obama] definitely looks like Jimmy Carter, probably the weakest post-war US president00:57, 14/01/2013!?!??!?!
Carter was ordering killing by drone in weekly meeting ??
Carter was suspending fundamental rights written in the Constitution ??
give me a break... this comment alone disqualify the rest of the article
P.S. stroken by a sentence of Eggert ("As a Russian") I checked.. I was mistaken in thinking, based on the name, that he is a German working in Russia...I have never heard before a Russian with family name "von"
- DjAggain willing slavery?15:43, 16/01/2013Please you guys at ria,FIRE this british slave,he is really getting annoying.This is too much,what its ruusian interest to cut its nuclear weapons so it could be easy prey for nato?WHY is this pro us writer in Ria?I mean west has soo many propaganda tools it doesnt need ria.
- arsanlupinSo much for freedom of speech ...21:25, 16/01/2013Why the hell would NATO want to invade Russia? They have their own problems. At the end of the Cold War, Germany was reunited - and they're STILL paying huge sums to clean up the toxic waste dump that was East Germany, as well as completely replace its infrastructure. Russia is even worse, and it would take a century of single-minded focus of all resources to clean up the radioactive cesspool that is Russia's countrysides, cities, and coasts. I know - I was there.
In addition to having less knowledge and understanding of international politics than a walnut, you also forget (or never knew) that RIA Novosti is owned and operated by the Russian government. If Konstantin says it, it's because they let him. Think about that before letting your mouth make a fool of you ... again.
- canobsPutin-Obama,_no comparison08:04, 23/01/2013von Eggert__German,British,Russian pro-west writer___USA wants to turn Russia in a colony run by a puppet prone on privatization in a casino economy by covert operation (golos) or with NATO, Russia should keep a well equipped army
- russianlover SIR,your article is far from reality and for that reason you must have a reality check21:11, 16/01/2013SIR,your article is far from reality and for that reason you must have a reality check-
at first i would point out when you are writing this kind of views in a govt news agency,you need to appreciate that russia has a democratic atmosphere and you have not been declared as a persona-non-grata and expelled from russian federation as happened in old soviet days.
second point is,whether usa deserves respect or not,to my opinion it is not-usa is respected out of fear and some compulsions.noone like usa except foreign agents and imperialist nato countries.
third point is,what you try to preach through your article that usa is a supporter and harbinger of democracy and so on-this is far from reality as history shows usa maintained,maintains and sponsors autocratic dictatorship across the world,their policy is as opportunistic as other country's foreign policies.
forth point,the idea of getting help and support from united states and west is itself delutionary-russia did not get anything during post soviet period-in this world no nation help others on the basis of generosity and gracious mindset but on the basis of business and strategic importance.every country needs to stand on it's own feet,other things will automatically happen.look the rise of china and india-it is the credit of their leaderships to take the country forward-western and american investments came into their place due to purely economical reason and political stability not on the basis of charity.
fifth point is,when any country or union is trying to destabilize another country,it cannot be considered friendly because it costs national and territorial integrity of the country.
sixth point is,every country including russia has the right to practice independent foreign policy and have the right to exploit it's geopolitical potential.in your view like many american and western think tanks-america and west are right,russia and others are wrong is probably one of the greatest lies in this earth.even fools know what is right living in the fool's world.while i follow your article ,i wonder that why you donot expose western duplicity and american wrongs-their human rights violations,double standard on terrorism,unholy intervention,NATO's illogical expansion.your credential shows that you worked for bbc,i wonder whether they have brainwashed you.
i agree that russia is a part and parcel of west and to some extent i agree to your euro atlanticism-but we need not be idealistic but pragmatic.as far as i remember that in one of your article you wrote that russia cannot depend on slavic brotherhood mindset,then you need to realize that emotional european brotherhood and americanization of foreign policy cannot become the need of the hour considering global financial meltdown and crisis in the eurozone-russia has to be pragmatic and concentrate their interest in asia and africa as they are becoming new economic powerhouse.when west tries to diversify it's energy import,russia also needs to diversify it's oil export.
last point,in every article you ridiculously and probably in a planned manner try to highlight what kind of concessions AND SACRIFICE russia need to make for better relationship with west AND USA,but you are silent about what kind of concessions and space need to be given to RUSSIA by west and usa which suits russia economically,strategically and nationally.world needs to be multi-polar and diverse and there must be balance of power instead of having a single superpower and single military bloc.
- canobsRussia could regain its supremacy(as USSR)08:33, 23/01/2013If Russia could have a PUBLIC central bank with regional subsidiaries instead of a Privatized banking system ruled by the BIS(bank for international settlements) and extend it to CIS and using a currency different from US dollar or Euro for its oil transactions (ex:remninbi) __Ref: - webofdebt.com/articles - globalresearch.ca - canobs.livejournal.com
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