Obama, Russia, and Gasoline Prices

The Obama administration has responded to Vladimir Putin's landslide re-election as president of Russia by doubling down on appeasement.  America may never live down the shame, and it will keep on paying through the nose at the gas pump for this folly.  What the Obama administration has done over the course of just a few days is truly disturbing.

First, after watching one of the most corrupt elections in Russian history, during which every major pro-freedom candidate was systematically excluded from the ballot, Obama congratulated Putin on his victory, and Obama's ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, defended the vote as if he were working for the Kremlin.

Next, Obama unilaterally offered to turn over U.S. military secrets to Russia in order to convince Putin to help Europe protect itself from an Iranian missile strike.  It will be remembered that Obama had already unilaterally canceled George Bush's plan to protect Europe because the Russians found it offensive.

Finally, Obama demanded the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, the last formal legal obstacle to dictatorship in Russia left in the U.S., claiming the Russian opposition supported the move, while McFaul was simultaneously insisted that no legislation be enacted to replace it, ignoring the Russian opposition demands that such a measure be passed.  Obama's duplicity here was nauseatingly palpable, and neo-Soviet in character.  No wonder Putin and Obama get along so well.

Meanwhile, Obama's approval rating in the U.S. plummeted precipitously.

Now, I'm not naïve enough to think that Obama's slide in the polls is due to his outrageous and cowardly policy on Russia.  Not that many Americans care what happens in Russia.  But more should, and Obama's rating would be even lower if they did.

Here's why: Russian actions are causing American to pay much more at the pump.  Russia has consistently supported dictators and terrorism throughout the Middle East because by doing so it can worry the oil markets and cause the price of oil to rise.

Russia's economy depends on oil the way the human body depends on blood.  Shortfalls in oil revenue are putting intense pressure on the Russian budget, and there is only so much oil that inefficient Russian systems can pump in a day.  This means Russia's only option is to try to boost the price.  Helping Syrians kill civilians, or better yet aiding Iranians in killing Americans, is a surefire way to accomplish that.

So Russia is giving support to Iran.  Putin might as well go to Tehran and declare, "Ich bin ein Shiite," because he has not only provided Iran with a flood-tide of weapons and nuclear technology, but also stood steadfastly by Iran's side in the diplomatic corridors, warning ominiously against any attempt to use force to block Iran's development of a nuclear device.

If Russia were ruled by a different kind of person, one who stood united with the U.S. against the likes of Iran and Syria rather than giving those rogue nations aid and comfort, Americans might be paying much less for gas right now.  The world would be confident that those rogue nations could no more stand against American might than could Iraq.  But Russia is ruled by a proud KGB spy who spent his whole life learning how to hate and destroy America, and he has just declared himself president for life.  So the world believes that Iran and Syria just might have a chance.

Make no mistake: rising oil prices aren't the only reason why Putin supports terror and tumult against the U.S. all through the Arab world.  The other reason is his personal hatred for America and her values, not to mention his delight at the prospect of Americans being butchered and defeated as retribution for their role in bringing down his beloved USSR.

From his earliest days in power, Putin, a lifelong KGB spy, has deplored the collapse of the USSR and sought to revive it.  At the winter Olympics, to be held in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014, the Soviet national anthem will play when Russia wins gold.  Putin has seized control of history textbooks, local government, mass media, and the national parliament so that today they are all very little different from what they were in Soviet times.

It didn't have to be this way.  If Obama had supported freedom and democracy in Russia the way Ronald Reagan had, Putin might have been defeated.

Over the past few months, the world saw over 100,000 Russians amass in Moscow to challenge Putin's authority -- an unprecedented watershed event.  And the world saw Obama ignore the protests and side with the Kremlin.  Then, instead of growing larger, the protests grew smaller, until now they have almost disappeared, and Putin has romped back into the presidency in a landslide.

And prices at the pump are soaring.

What if instead of pursuing appeasement, Obama had delivered a speech like Reagan gave at the Brandenburg Gate, a speech that soon saw the end of the Berlin Wall?  What if Obama had appointed someone who would lose no opportunity to speak out for freedom in Russia as our ambassador -- someone like John McCain, for example -- instead of collaborating with Putin?

What if Obama had given as much aid and comfort to Russian democracy activists as Russia has given to America-haters in Iran and Syria?

If that had happened, Putin might have been shown the exit by empowered, educated, and inspired Russia voters, and right now Russia might be ruled by someone who would work with us to drive down the price at the pump rather than working feverishly to raise it.

Or, at the very least, Putin might be far more hesitant to back dictatorships in the Middle East and more willing to side with the West as it seeks to help democracy win footholds throughout the region.

Instead, Obama is pushing the repeal of Jackson-Vanik, which means pushing for Russia to be formally accepted into the family of civilized nations and treated just like one of them.  Putin will use the repeal of Jackson-Vanik to claim he has been given the seal of approval by the USA.  This will free him to launch an even more brutal round of neo-Soviet crackdowns, and Obama/McFaul will have blood on their hands.