The irony was truly spectacular, reaching that special level that only matters involving neo-Soviet Russia and U.S. President Barack Obama can attain.
On the very same day that the Miami Herald quoted an anonymous "senior Obama administration official" praising Obama's victory in "resetting" relations with Russia ("for many years we were trying to kill each other, and now they are allowing our troops to go through their country for battle," he intoned), a bloody, apparently Russia-inspired coup was ousting the pro-U.S. regime from Kyrgyzstan, a key U.S. base in that "battle."
Last summer, it looked like the Obama administration had scored a significant victory in Kyrgyzstan. The Putin regime in Moscow dropped a $2-billion bundle of cash on the tiny country as a bribe to induce it to refuse to renew the U.S. government lease on a military base at the Manas airport outside the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. Manas is a key staging area for the battle in Afghanistan.
But Moscow was soon sputtering and fuming as U.S. counter-bribing successfully induced the Kyrgyz government to pocket the Russian cash and allow the U.S. to keep using the base. Fast-forward to last Wednesday, when the streets of Bishkek exploded in bloody violence (caution, link contains graphic photos of the carnage) and the pro-U.S. regime was ousted. The fate of the U.S. base was immediately called into question. The ousted Kyrgyz ruler's son had been scheduled to visit Washington for talks the next day, and the opposition leaders had met with Russian officials just days before the violence broke out. Putin rushed to deny involvement, but his words rang hollow in light of subsequent events. Unsurprisingly, Russia rapidly moved to recognize the new regime, with blood still flowing in the streets, and soon the Kremlin was talking about providing financial aid. Within hours, the rebels themselves were admitting that Russia had staged the coup and declared that they intended to close Manas to the Americans. For all the world, it looked like Obama had been played for a fool. As I've previously written, the news was even worse in our own hemisphere. Despite the so-called "reset," Putin traveled to Venezuela and promised to do for maniacal dictator Hugo Chávez the same favor he had already done for the even more rabidly feral lunatic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran -- namely, provide both nuclear and rocket technology. Putin also said that Russia would send billions more in weapons to the America-hating Chávez regime, and the two leaders smirked and beamed as they tried to outdo each other with anti-American rhetoric.
The Herald quoted Ariel Cohen of the conservative Heritage Foundation: "There are powerful constituencies in Russia that treat the United States with implacable suspicion. They also treat President Obama as a naive neophyte."
Even as the blood was flowing in the streets of Bishkek, Obama was jetting to Prague to sign a new arms control treaty with the sham "president" of Russia, Dmitri Medvedev. This agreement, too, delivers a one-sided benefit to Russia, whose desperately backwards economy simply cannot afford to maintain large stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Thanks to Obama, the Russians can now concentrate their limited resources on expanding Russian imperialism in post-Soviet space and even in our own hemisphere, knowing that Obama will not lift a finger to stop them.
What's more, the claims made by Obama regarding a "thirty-percent" reduction in warheads are simply fraudulent. In reality, less than 10% of actual weapons will be cut, with the rest made up for in bogus accounting measures. The net result is that Obama has sacrificed American values and national security for a short-term P.R. gambit he hopes will get him reelected. If that's change we can believe in, then we are not long for this world.
Kim Zigfeld blogs on Russia at La Russophobe and writes the Russia column for Pajamas Media. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.