Tags: Syria | wsj | putin | obama | mark

WSJ: Putin Has Found 'Easy Mark' in Obama

Friday, 13 Sep 2013 01:29 PM

By Dan Weil

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing President Barack Obama like a fiddle as he pursues Russia's pro-Syria/pro-Iran policy, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

"Putin may be crude, but he knows how to exploit weakness. And he's sure acting like he has spotted an easy mark in President Obama," Journal editors write.

That was demonstrated in a Moscow newspaper report that Putin plans to offer Iran a sophisticated mobile anti-aircraft missile system and a second nuclear reactor, the editorial says. It also was demonstrated in Putin's New York Times opinion piece promoting Russia and denouncing the United States.

"'When we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal,' concluded the former KGB agent who has anointed himself Russia's president-for-life while crushing his opposition, invading his neighbors and enriching his cronies,'" the editorial says.

"Humiliating, isn't it? You wouldn't know it by listening to the Obama Administration and its media allies spin Syria as the smartest U.S. diplomacy since Henry Kissinger opened China."

Obama credited his talks with Putin as the basis for a possible deal for Russia to take custody of Syria's chemical weapons, the editorial says.

"Judging by his behavior, Mr. Putin will read that as another 'Kick Me' sign on Mr. Obama's back. Giving asylum to Edward Snowden? Kick. Protecting Bashar Assad, then offering to disarm him? Kick. Arming Iran with proscribed missiles? Kick."

Russia's offer to send missiles and a reactor to Iran puts the lie to Obama's "re-set" with Russia during his first term, the editorial says. "Russian cooperation on Iran was supposed to be the main selling point" of that re-set.

As Secretary of State John Kerry tries to negotiate a deal with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Syrian chemical weapons, the Russian "will no doubt demand further U.S. concessions for Moscow's help in solving the very problems the Kremlin helped create," the editorial says.

Putin made clear his negotiating strategy in a 2006 interview, the editorial says.

"Just think back to childhood when you go into the street with a sweet in your hand, and another kid says, 'Give it to me.' And you clutch your little sweaty fist tight around it and say, 'What do I get then?'" Putin said.

Journal editors' take on that: "We'll find out soon enough what the administration will give up next to get Mr. Putin to open his sweaty fist."

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