Obama Administration Dodges Concerns over Reset Policy
3:58 PM, Jun 25, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
There's an old axiom from the intelligence community, "admit nothing, deny, counter-accuse," that can be as useful in politics as it is in the shadowy espionage world. Faced with a high-level summit bound to scrutinize President Obama's much-touted "reset" policy with the Soviet Union, that unimaginative tact ended up serving as the administration's primary defense for a widely publicized engagement strategy which has accomplished little.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Policy Initiative hosted a panel of experts on the Russian Federation to examine the veracity of the administration's bold claims about reset (analysis here), followed by a keynote speech by Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina). Several legitimate, pressing concerns were raised about the White House's effusive engagement of Moscow, from arms control to human rights to the treatment of Russia's democratic neighbors. Unfortunately, instead of responding to these concerns with meaningful counterpoints, the administration chose to attack DeMint personally.
You'd think that aides to a president who has had his own share of minor gaffes--such as referring to the 'Austrian' language--would be careful about throwing stones at Senator DeMint. But they clearly want to shift the debate away from the administration's largely failed Russia policy. President Obama is betting the farm on reset, occasionally at the expense of U.S. allies in eastern Europe, and has received nearly nothing in return for his efforts. That failure has broader implications for his engagement strategy with other totalitarian regimes like Iran, as well as our relationship with friendly powers. Counter-accusing, it seems, is easier than having to explain yourself.
Aside: Owen Graham of the Heritage Foundation has a fantastic post up on restarting reset. Read the whole thing, as they say.