Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama's First Challange: The Bear's Paw

I don't know if any of you saw the article on Drudge this morning about what's happening in Russia, but I find it extremely troubling and think that the power moves taking place over there are a direct result of Obama's victory.

First, There are rumors coming out of Russia that Putin is maneuvering himself for an unprecedented power-grab. This is from Reuters:
Medvedev Wednesday proposed increasing the presidential term to six years
from four years, a step the newspaper said was part of a plan drawn up by
Vladislav Surkov, who serves as Medvedev's first deputy chief of staff.

Under the plan, Medvedev could implement changes to the constitution
and unpopular social reforms "so that Putin could return to the Kremlin for a
longer period," the newspaper said.

"Under this scenario Medvedev could resign early citing changes to the
constitution and then presidential elections could take place in 2009," the
newspaper said, citing the unidentified source close to the Kremlin.

The paper said Putin, who is currently prime minister, could then rule
for two six year terms, so from 2009 to 2021.
This is troubling because it reflects not only Putin's ICBM-sized ego, but because it represents a play by Russia to move itself into the dominating role it held during the Cold War. Putin recognizes that with the election of Obama, international opinion will likely turn in favor of the United States. Europe is already fawning over the guy, which is making Putin extremely nervous. The current leader of Russia, Medvedev, doesn't have the international savvy or political acumin to adequately represent Russia on the world stage in a room full of players like Obama - who has an equally large ego. And while I don't necessarily think that keeping Russia on its toes is a bad thing, I don't believe that Obama is up to the challenge of maintaining the balance required to keep us from a positive outcome in a confrontation.

Judging from the way democratic presidents inexperienced in world affairs have fucntioned in the past (Carter, Clinton), I fear that we are setting ourselves up for another disaster. Although this time, the stakes are higher. Democratic presidents have the uncanny ability to pick the worst (and rabidly partisan) foreign policy advisors, and as a result, find themselves victim to indecision and infighting that leaves the Commander in Chief without a clear direction in which to move forward when there is a crisis. And now, because the president himself lacks the ability to make a solid decision, he is setting himself up (and thus, the country) to be bullied around by players (like Russia and China) who are more aggressive in foreign policy.

My thoughts are that Putin can't stand to see Obama take the world stage, and sees himself as the only person with the charisma (and based on his narcissistic photos, the machismo) to counter someone like Obama. It's killing him to take a backseat to Medvedev. Also, Putin will be able to tap the strong nationalist vein that runs through Mother Russia - a place that has traditionally embraced strong leaders throughout its history. We may indeed be looking at another Cold War brewing.

So Biden may be right after all. Obama will likely be tested in ways that should scare every man and woman who voted against him this election. And soon.