The circumstantial evidence is mounting that the Kremlin succeeded in infiltrating the U.S. government at the highest levels.
How else to explain a newly elected president looking the other way after an act of Russian aggression? Agreeing to a farcically one-sided nuclear deal? Mercilessly mocking the idea that Russia represents our foremost geopolitical foe? Accommodating the illicit nuclear ambitions of a Russian ally? Welcoming a Russian foothold in the Middle East? Refusing to provide arms to a sovereign country invaded by Russia? Diminishing our defenses and pursuing a Moscow-friendly policy of hostility to fossil fuels?
Put all of this together, and it’s impossible to conclude anything other than that Obama was a Russian stooge, and not out of any nefarious deals, but out of his own naïvete and weakness. Obama didn’t expect any rewards when he asked then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a hot-mic moment at an international meeting to relay to Vladimir Putin his ability to be more “flexible” after the 2012 election; he was, to put it in terms of the current Russian election controversy, “colluding” with the Russians in the belief it was a good strategy. His kompromat was his own foolishness.
The cost of Obama’s orientation toward Russia became clearer during the past two weeks. When he pulled up short from enforcing his red line, an agreement with the Russians to remove Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons became the fig leaf to cover his retreat. This deal was obviously deficient, but Obama officials used clever language to give the impression that it had removed all chemical weapons from Syria. Never mind that Assad still used chlorine gas to attack his population — exploiting a grievous loophole — and that evidence piled up that Assad was cheating more broadly.
To be sure, Donald Trump’s statements about Russia during the past year and a half have often been stupid and shameful. But there was always a good chance that Russia’s blatant hostility to our values and interests would make any attempted Trump detente unsustainable. With his secretary of state and U.N. ambassador hitting Russia hard over the Assad gas attack and Trump’s strike challenging Russia’s position, the administration looks to be adopting a hardheaded attitude without bothering with a doomed reset first.
Even if Obama eventually got tougher on Russia — imposing sanctions after the Ukraine invasion and sending contingents of U.S. troops to countries near Russia — he never entirely shed his reflex toward accommodation. No matter what conspiracy theorists might say, there’s nothing to suggest anything untoward about Obama’s relationship with Russia. But based on the record alone, you might have suspicions.