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Ten Years Into Obama's Russia 'Reset'


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Today brings the tenth anniversary of that famously mortifying scene in which President Obama’s first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, presented Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, with a big red plastic button meant to symbolize a "reset" in U.S.- Russia relations. As Lavrov pointed out at the time, the gift was mislabeled, adorned not with the Russian word for “reset” (perezagruzka), but the Russian word for “overcharge” (peregruzka).

These days, the Russian Foreign Ministry keeps the button on display (still mislabeled) in a diplomatic museum on the ministry’s premises -- less a souvenir of U.S.-Russian camaraderie than a symbol of American folly.

Obama's plan was to reverse the cooling of U.S.-Russian relations that had set in under his predecessor, President George W. Bush. The problem, however, lay not with the U.S., but with a resurgently aggressive Russia under the reign of Vladimir Putin, to whom an aging Boris Yeltsin had turned over the powers of the Russian presidency on New Year's Eve, 1999. By the time Obama took office, in 2009, Russia's rising threat was already spelled out in such horrors as the 2006 murder in London of a former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko, his tea spiked with radioactive polonium-210. During Bush's final year in office, in 2008, Russia had launched a war with the neighboring country of Georgia. The time had come for the U.S. superpower, leader of the Free World, to draw a line.:snip:

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This is a tough topic for me.  I think throughout the 1990's we lost a lot of opportunities to make Russia more our friend.  Today, I admire Putin on some things like the flat tax, people able to worship and hopefully looking out for Russia's interests as he should.  I do find other things troubling like his war in the Ukraine and the persecution of some minorities like LGBT's in Russia.  Even so, we should and have to deal with them but not let them walk over us either, it is tough road to take. 

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