“Sanctions alone may not be sufficient to get Putin’s attention”

An article discusses the problems of Putin and asks, how to deal with Putin, “RT reported that four Russian missile ships in the Caspian Sea attacked 11 targets inside Syria with 26 cruise missiles. “According to objective control data, all the targets were destroyed. No civilian objects sustained damage,” said Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. The missile barrage — and, one might argue, the whole Russian adventure in Syria — illustrates Russian bullying. When a former University of Chicago professor encounters a former KGB agent, one plays a “win-win” game where both stand to benefit while the other plays, “I win, you lose.” It’s time President Obama learned how to negotiate with a bully”.

The piece argues “First, the president needs to negotiate like one because President Vladimir Putin is a bully. Obama has to see Putin as mainly an opponent not primarily a partner; Putin is the KGB agent fostering a new Cold War on the horizon. (But Europe is not the only theater where bullying is occurring. Think East and South China seas involving China, the Philippines, Japan, and Southeast Asia.). Second, negotiating from strength means slowing down withdrawals and reinserting American military forces into Europe and the Middle East. It also means using the bully pulpit, and then supplementing words with military moves. Otherwise, America loses and our adversaries win. Third, in the air, Obama should transfer F-22s to Israel to counter state of the art Russian Su-34s now in Syria. On the ground, have an “Islamic State no-go zone” in northern Syria, with U.S. air and limited land presence, as James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and now at The Washington Institute, suggested“.

Correctly the author writes that “the Sept. 28 U.N. addresses by Obama and Putin suggested Obama was losing the battle for worldwide public opinion and actions in the Middle East. In a readout of the speeches by Obama and Putin on Sept. 28 by Anna Borshchevskaya, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Russia’s policy toward the Middle East, in Forbes, Borshchevskaya showed how Obama played into Putin’s hands at the U.N. She held that the Putin U.N. speech repeated his longstanding narrative of moral equivalence and the “blatant hypocrisy of his foreign and domestic policy has gone largely unchallenged by the Obama administration.” Obama did not do well with either the public optics or with results in their private session. He gave Putin a propaganda platform to go head-to-head with an American president and obtained a stamp of approval that Russia was a player on the international stage. By setting up a foursome of Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Syria without Obama’s knowledge or U.S. inclusion, Putin seized the advantage in the Middle East. The road to war and peace now goes through Moscow”.

Pointedly the writer states that “Putin plays to win and for Obama to lose and is continuing to do so today. As a part of his playbook, Putin supported his allies in Iran and Syria and expected Obama to do the same, favoring those whom Putin backed. While the Obama and Putin sidebar took place, thousands of moderate Syrian rebels and Iranian dissidents met near the U.N. in an anti-Rouhani rally that highlighted Iran’s violations of human rights. Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, provided the backstory for that protest of the supposedly moderate President Rouhani. On July 31, Gerecht lambasted the search for a moderate in Iran because it ignored Iranian street protests, the assassination of expatriates, and the mass executions of political prisoners. On July 27, Gerecht decried absence of human source intelligence on the ground in Iran that indicated a coming failure of intelligence. By dancing to the tune of “Putin Rules,” Obama loses Iranian Street intelligence as a new Cold War heats up”.

The writer goes on to make the point “Sanctions alone may not be sufficient to get Putin’s attention. They need to be reinforced by military actions. NATO was on the right track holding Allied Shield exercises in June that brought together 15,000 service members from 19 member nations and three partners. To deter potential Kremlin aggression, NATO stepped up exercises in reaction to Russian threats. Lethal equipment and enhanced sanctions would raise the cost of a Russian attack on Eastern Ukraine. On Sept. 18, Peter Feaver and Eric Lorber pointed out that flip-flopping on the rationale for the nuclear deal with Iran weakened the credibility of the sanctions regime. They called for legislation that would prohibit U.S. and some European companies from doing business with any terrorist-related Iranian organizations to keep the up the pressure”.

He ends “When a player repeats the same approach in the face of failure, it is makes no sense. Obama’s pursuit of “win-win” when Putin follows “win-lose” is a recipe for U.S. failure. Our coercive diplomacy requires military forces to backstop diplomatic initiatives. For Obama to negotiate from strength means arresting his cutbacks in the defence budget, slowing down troop withdrawals, and reinserting American military forces in the Middle East and in Europe, (with forces able to maintain deterrence and defense in Asia regarding China). Unless our opponents and allies perceive there is an American will to employ those forces, the partners must receive means they require to deter and defend. How to negotiate with a bully? Use the bully pulpit with words complemented by military moves. Otherwise, we lose and our adversaries win”.


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