From Russia -- Without Love

President Obama's recent trip to Russia contrasts sharply with Ronald Reagan's 1988 visit to Moscow. President Reagan reached out to the Russian people, too. He gave the first nationally televised speech ever delivered-uncensored-to the peoples of Russia.

Reagan made a point of speaking of religious freedom and invoking God's blessing on the Russian people.

Like Obama, Reagan also spoke to elite students. But unlike Obama, Reagan made a point of telling students at Moscow State University in the most civil terms why despotism was wrong. The Information Age then in its dawn was physically based, he told the sons and daughters of the Communist Party's nomenklatura, on the silicon dioxide chip. This chip is the same material substance as sand. But, Reagan emphasized, in order for the computer revolution to succeed, there must be freedom.

His bright listeners could read between the lines. He was telling them Marxism was wrong, that Communism was a failure. He was saying you cannot compete in the computer revolution if you have to station a KGB agent at every computer terminal.

Watching President Reagan delivering these liberating truths-under a scowling statue of Vladimir Lenin-you half expected the old Bolshevik's bald bust to fall off its pedestal. In a few months, Lenin statues would be toppling all over the Soviet empire.

Obama's approach was completely different. Most unwisely, Obama showed disrespect for Vladimir Putin while showing elaborate courtesy to Dmitri Medvedev. Obama spoke about "setting the reset button" in U.S.-Russian relations. (I don't know how to spell "reset" in Russian, but apparently Hillary Clinton's State Department can't spell it, either.)

Anyone who has followed post-Cold War Russia knows that it is Putin and not Medvedev who is calling the shots. Obama's failed attempt to jolly up Medvedev while giving the cold shoulder to Putin is like hugging the monkey while dissing the organ grinder.

Imagine if FDR had insisted on meeting with President Kalinin instead of Joe Stalin during World War II. Everyone then knew that if you wanted to deal with Russia, you had to deal with Russia's real boss.

President Reagan set the bar for dealing with Russians. There is no more Soviet Union, largely because Reagan helped bring down an evil empire-without war. He never got a Nobel Peace Prize, of course. Those are reserved for the likes of Yasser Arafat, the inventor of air piracy. But Obama could learn a lot from Ronald Reagan. What part of his success would we want to "reset?"

Ken Blackwell is a former US Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.
President Obama's recent trip to Russia contrasts sharply with Ronald Reagan's 1988 visit to Moscow. President Reagan reached out to the Russian people, too. He gave the first nationally televised speech ever delivered-uncensored-to the peoples of Russia.

Reagan made a point of speaking of religious freedom and invoking God's blessing on the Russian people.

Like Obama, Reagan also spoke to elite students. But unlike Obama, Reagan made a point of telling students at Moscow State University in the most civil terms why despotism was wrong. The Information Age then in its dawn was physically based, he told the sons and daughters of the Communist Party's nomenklatura, on the silicon dioxide chip. This chip is the same material substance as sand. But, Reagan emphasized, in order for the computer revolution to succeed, there must be freedom.

His bright listeners could read between the lines. He was telling them Marxism was wrong, that Communism was a failure. He was saying you cannot compete in the computer revolution if you have to station a KGB agent at every computer terminal.

Watching President Reagan delivering these liberating truths-under a scowling statue of Vladimir Lenin-you half expected the old Bolshevik's bald bust to fall off its pedestal. In a few months, Lenin statues would be toppling all over the Soviet empire.

Obama's approach was completely different. Most unwisely, Obama showed disrespect for Vladimir Putin while showing elaborate courtesy to Dmitri Medvedev. Obama spoke about "setting the reset button" in U.S.-Russian relations. (I don't know how to spell "reset" in Russian, but apparently Hillary Clinton's State Department can't spell it, either.)

Anyone who has followed post-Cold War Russia knows that it is Putin and not Medvedev who is calling the shots. Obama's failed attempt to jolly up Medvedev while giving the cold shoulder to Putin is like hugging the monkey while dissing the organ grinder.

Imagine if FDR had insisted on meeting with President Kalinin instead of Joe Stalin during World War II. Everyone then knew that if you wanted to deal with Russia, you had to deal with Russia's real boss.

President Reagan set the bar for dealing with Russians. There is no more Soviet Union, largely because Reagan helped bring down an evil empire-without war. He never got a Nobel Peace Prize, of course. Those are reserved for the likes of Yasser Arafat, the inventor of air piracy. But Obama could learn a lot from Ronald Reagan. What part of his success would we want to "reset?"

Ken Blackwell is a former US Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.