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Does the Reset Button have a Reset Button?

10:49 AM, Oct 14, 2009 • By JOHN NOONAN
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September 24, 2009:

The White House claimed a key victory Wednesday in its effort to create momentum toward sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, saying that comments by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after a meeting with President Obama represented a shift toward favoring punitive action...

Michael McFaul, the president's top Russia adviser, called Mr. Medvedev's statement on Iran "a very big change in [Russia's] position." He said that the administration's decision last week to drop a missile-defense plan that had angered the Kremlin had increased the odds of a change.

October 13th, 2009:

Denting President Obama's hopes for a powerful ally in his campaign to press Iran on its nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday that threatening Tehran now with harsh new sanctions would be "counterproductive."

What a difference a month makes.

It would have been nice if Hillary saved some of the venom she used on that poor Congolese man for the Russians. The Putin/Medvedev coalition has skillfully manipulated the Obama administration at every turn, convincing them to abandon missile defense without a quid pro quo, bogging down the new START treaty with language that restricts our conventional military capabilities, and playing "who's on second?" whenever the subject of real, damaging Iranian sanctions comes up.

Churchill had Russia pegged 60 years ago, famously saying: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interests." Still true today. Russia doesn't want to participate in Iranian sanctions. They do want sanctions, of course, just the kind that they abstain from and big Western oil consumers participate in. Russia is a country that lives or dies on cost of energy. If oil skyrockets after tough sanctions or a military strike, Russia benefits. If Iran is allowed to develop a nuclear arsenal and weaken our standing in the Middle East, Russia benefits. It's win-win for Ivan, win-win-win if you factor in our baffling decision to kill European BMD unilaterally, instead of using it as a bargaining chip.

Russia, seemingly unimpressed with our president's Nobel Peace Prize, is playing a smart, tough game of realpolitik here. The Obama Administration, guided by anything but reality, is basing their entire foreign policy on lofty promises made during the campaign. They're playing chess, we're playing checkers. That's a contest that Ivan will win every time.