Putin, Obama and Reid

Friday , June 13, 2014 - 11:32 AM

Robert K. Wolthuis

History of course is created by many things, the greatest of these are leaders of all stripes pursuing policies, objectives and taking or not taking action thereby creating conflicts between and within nations. In an era when the world is crying for enlightened and effective political leadership, we are unfortunately stuck with Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

In today’s world Mr. Putin, Russia’s current strongman, is writing a new chapter in European history and Barack Obama and the European leaders are being forced to deal with that reality. Putin now holds all the reins of power in Russia, having severely diminished freedom of the press in his country and putting restrictive shackles on most political parties. With effective control of public opinion and virtually all of the instruments of power Mr. Putin has in recent months embarked on a blatant course to regain for Russia some, if not all of the nations and territory lost when the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1990-91. This former KGB agent has taken measure of the NATO leaders and has concluded that so far none of them have been willing to oppose his new Realpolitik in Europe.

During the years of brutal Communist domination hundreds of thousands of Russians migrated to Ukraine and other Soviet Republics, especially the Baltic States as a part of Stalin’s program to destroy and control ethnic groups. After successfully grabbing the Crimea a few months ago Putin is now stirring up Russian speaking minorities in the eastern part of Ukraine. His tactics are similar to those used by Adolf Hitler with the Sudeten Germans living in Czechoslovakia in 1936, and among Germans living in the Polish Corridor in 1939. As in the late 1930s, this rising dictator holds most of the cards.

Mr. Obama is the one person in the world with any chance of preventing Mr. Putin from gaining his objectives. Public opinion in Western Europe, however, is in no mood to impose strong measures against Russia by the NATO powers. Several of those nations are highly dependent upon trade and Russian natural gas, much of which flows through Ukrainian pipelines.

The American public is war-weary, having born the cost of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan for over two decades. Mr. Obama is also trapped by several factors of his own making. “Leading from behind” is delusional. He is proceeding to reduce America’s military power at a time when the world is becoming considerably more dangerous. He confronts the new Russian aggression with a long record of failures in Syria, Iran, North Korea and Benghazi. Nor will Mr. Putin soon forget Mr. Obama’s comments to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recorded by an open mike after a meeting in Seoul in early 2012 that “this is my last election ... after my election I will have more flexibility” [on missile defense]. These factors are not lost on Vladimir Putin who has conducted his policies towards Ukraine/Crimea, Iran and Syria knowing that feeble positions similar to those noted above allowed Hitler to succeed in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and convinced Stalin that he could outwit the United States and its weak European Allies throughout Eastern Europe from 1945-1948.

Let the world beware!

The third man making negative history is Harry Reid, the majority leader in the United States Senate whose conduct makes us wonder if his clutch is slipping badly. This frustrated old man has had a long and sometimes distinguished career in public service in his home state of Nevada and in the U.S. Congress. As a graduate of Utah State University, Reid rose from very humble circumstances to become one of the most powerful men in America. Now at age 75 and at the pinnacle of his power, he has chosen to cap his career by name-calling and telling lies about people he does not agree with. Unfortunately, we can thank the Tea Party and Sharron Angle for postponing Harry Reid’s much-needed retirement. He won an election he should have lost and survived politically to become the Senate’s bitter old man.

Space will not allow the listing of all of Reid’s reckless charges. Here are some of the worst. In the years Reid has been slandering people he opposes, nothing was more repulsive than his false accusation during the 2012 presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes in 10 years. Reid has never apologized for that falsehood, nor has he divulged his “source.” Not content with that lie, he also stated that Mr. Romney had “sullied” his religion. Nor has Harry Reid exempted good American citizens claiming that all those people who appeared in news broadcasts explaining how they had been adversely affected by Obamacare were “actors.” Tea Party members are “anarchists.”

In 2004 referring to Justice Clarence Thomas, the Senate Democratic leader stated on Meet the Press “I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.”

Truth be told, Harry Reid is an embarrassment to the trusted position he holds in this highly troubled republic. He bears much of the responsibility for the gridlock in the federal government. The U.S. Senate did not pass an actual budget for three years. Under his control and leadership the world’s most exclusive club has not addressed the serious problems of Social Security and immigration reform, the soaring national debt or entitlements. Yet Harry Reid recently found time to rant against the owner of the Washington NFL franchise because he believes the nickname “Redskins” is racist.

Whether or not it is, it shouldn’t be on Harry Reid’s priority list. There are critical unaddressed issues in this country far more important than this. Calling people “liars” and falsely accusing political opponents are demeaning to the position he holds. This nation needs more leadership and an end to name calling. Mr. Reid’s office is one of great trust. Perhaps he should at least try to rise to the occasion.

And then there is Nancy Pelosi.

Robert K. Wolthuis, PhD, lives in Pleasant View and is a former special assistant to President Ford. He served twice as a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense.

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