Nytt

Barack Obama har ikke blitt stilt på den store testen ennå. Det blir han nå og måten han reagerer på vil bestemme, ikke bare hans eftermæle, men også USAs og Vestens retning de nærmeste år.

Putin har luktet at Obama er nølende, så lenge at det slår over i svakhet. Han så det under gassangrepet i Syria i fjor høst. Obama gikk ut og lovet bombing, og trakk seg så.

Det sies at Putin og hans klikk vil utnytte perioden Obama sitter. De venter langt tøffere motstand hvis f.eks. Hillary Clinton skulle bli valgt.

The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin? It is no easy task. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

That makes for a crisis significantly different from others on Mr. Obama’s watch. On Syria, Iran, Libya and Egypt, the political factions in Washington have been as torn as the president over the proper balance of firmness and flexibility. But as an old nuclear-armed adversary returns to Cold War form, the consequences seem greater, the challenges more daunting and the voices more unified.

“It’s the most important, most difficult foreign-policy test of his presidency,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat who became under secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration. “The stakes are very high for the president because he is the NATO leader. There’s no one in Europe who can approach him in power. He’s going to have to lead.”

Jimmy Carters presidentsperiode ble ødelagt av gislene i Iran og Sovjetunionens invasjon av Afghanistan. Krim er i samme størrelsesorden.

Mediene gir Obama en helt annen behandling enn de pleide. Nå skriver avisene at han vakler, nøler, og blir tatt på sengen. Caught off guard. Det er omtrent det verste man kan kalles som president.

Kjemien med Putin er ytterst dårlig. Det demonstrerte Obama under toppmøtet i St.Petersburg da han unnlot å møte til et  forhandlingsmøte som Putin holdt. De to klarer ikke en gang å skjule at de misliker hverandre når de opptrer offentlig. No love lost, som man sier.

Historiens tunge bør

Roger Cohen skriver glimrende om hvilket ansvar Obama nå står med.

Obama has said Putin will pay a price. Kerry has spoken of a “huge price.” But the administration’s Syrian equivocations underwrote Putin’s assertiveness and sense of impunity. Options are now limited. This is the Age of Reluctance, a time when American power is dominant but no longer determinant. Americans have turned inward.

The president must lead. Since 1945 America’s security and prosperity have been tied to the steady spread of liberty in a Europe made whole and free. There is a vital U.S. interest in not seeing this process reversed — not in the land of Yalta and the corpse-filled ravine of Babi Yar.

Obama har sett i en helt annen retning. Han er presidenten som skulle avslutte kriger, ikke starte dem. Men nå risikerer han å gå inn i historien som den som unnlot å forsvare den internasjonale orden etter den kalde krigen. Det vil være en vanære. Selv innbitte liberale som Cohen steiler.

If Ukraine were subjugated to Moscow once more, or dismembered through a Russian annexation of Crimea in flagrant violation of Russia’s own commitments in 1994, Obama would become the president who presided over a watershed diminishment of the trans-Atlantic bond.

Cohen har med et sitat som viser hvordan Putin vender internasjonal retorikk til et våpen mot den samme internasjonale orden som den er del av.

President Obama might say this: “We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.”

The words, of course, are Putin’s. He used them about Syria — a real catastrophe.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/03/world/europe/pressure-rising-as-obama-works-to-rein-in-russia.html?hp&_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/opinion/putins-crimean-crime.html