Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’
October 7th, 2016 at 5:16 pm
Bipartisan Congressional Coalition: Don’t Politicize SpaceX Launch Mishap to the Benefit of Russia
Posted by Print

Should Russia be allowed to become America’s exclusive source of rocket engines for space launches?

The question answers itself in the negative, but some members of Congress unfortunately advocate policies that would create  that straightjacket.

In the wake of a SpaceX Falcon 9 pre-launch failure on a commercial mission at Cape Canaveral, which resulted in no loss of life, or even injuries or damage to third-party property, several members of Congress wrote to NASA, the FAA, and Air Force suggesting that those entities should sever ties with SpaceX.

The problem, as we at CFIF have previously highlighted, is that their preferred course would mean exclusive reliance upon Russian rockets for U.S. space launches.  As confirmed by American military leaders, Russia remains our foremost global antagonist, and the last thing the U.S. should be doing is subsidizing the Russian defense industry with our own taxpayers’ dollars.  That would also further undermine global security, reward Russian aggressive behavior, and even benefit nations like Iran that are primary beneficiaries of Russian rocket technology.  That’s precisely why Congress imposed a phaseout of future U.S. purchases of Russian rocket engines in two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).

Fortunately, a bipartisan Congressional coalition that included more than twice as many members pushed back against the prior letter and set the record straight:

We recognize that the space business is technologically challenging.  Given these challenges, Congress passed many years ago bipartisan legislation governing the issue of launch and reentry licenses for commercial spaceflight activities by the Secretary of Transportation.  Accordingly, the FAA has established regulations that govern licensing as well as mishap and accident investigations.  Consistent with regulations, the Falcon 9 anomaly has been properly classified as a ‘mishap’ under federal law and is being resolved under applicable regulatory procedures.

We are pleased that the FAA is maintaining a strong and prudent oversight role that appropriately draws upon private sector insight in ensuring a robust investigative process and safe return to flight for SpaceX.  We encourage the FAA to continue to leverage its considerable investigative expertise to help SpaceX come to resolution swiftly and safely, and we urge the FAA to continue implementing its role in accordance with applicable federal law…  We are confident that current NASA and Air Force procedures will ensure that future U.S. Government missions that utilize the Falcon 9, and any other launch vehicle system, will undergo appropriate flight worthiness evaluations prior to flight.

Accidents are unfortunate events, and accident investigations should not be politicized.  We encourage you to reject calls for your organizations to abandon established, well-considered, and long-standing procedures.” (emphasis added)

They are correct.

America can’t afford to undercut our own private sector space industry, particularly when the primary beneficiary will be Russia, and at the expense of U.S. taxpayers to boot.

July 27th, 2016 at 11:28 am
Russia: A Growing Threat
Posted by Print

In a recent interview with CFIF, Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses NATO, U.S. and Russian relations following the NATO summit meeting, friction in the Baltic region and what the growing U.S. military troop presence in Poland means for U.S.-Russian relations.

Listen to the interview here.

June 8th, 2016 at 12:13 pm
Dangerous Idea: Senator Proposes Extension of U.S. Reliance on Russian Rockets
Posted by Print

As we at CFIF have recently detailed, the U.S. simply must end military and space program purchases of Russian rocket engines.

As America’s military leaders confirm, Russia remains perhaps our foremost global threat, and continuing to subsidize its defense industry with U.S. taxpayer dollars only undermines global security by rewarding its aggressive behavior.  Additionally, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocketry and its ongoing technological advances, and continuing support for Russian rocketry comes at the expense of our own domestic rocket industry.

With those concerns in mind, and following Russian aggression against Ukraine, Congress rightly imposed a phaseout of future U.S. purchase of Russian rocket engines in two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs).  Unfortunately, some in Congress seek to reverse that phaseout and hope to to spend $540 million or more on at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines.

And now, Senator Bill Nelson (D – Florida) has introduced an amendment to extend U.S. reliance upon Russian rocketry to 2023.

Although CFIF has had its well-known disagreements with Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) over the years, he is the last person whose devotion to national security or fiscal responsibility can be questioned.  And on this issue, Sen. McCain remains unequivocal:

Today, we have two space launch providers – ULA and SpaceX – that, no matter what happens with the Russian RD-180, will be able to provide fully redundant capabilities with ULS’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon heavy space launch vehicles.  There will be no credibility gap.  The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

And in response to Sen. Nelson’s proposed amendment, Sen. McCain was equally cogent:

This amendment, which is the largest subsidy of the Russian military industrial base proposed since the invasion of Ukraine, is the worst proposal yet from ULA and its Congressional allies.  In an apparent effort to further dependence on Russia for access to space, this amendment exceeds the Administration’s request for 18 Russian rocket engines and provides taxpayer subsidy for the purchase of an unlimited number of Russian engines.”

We cannot afford to neglect our own thriving space industry to the benefit of Russia, particularly on the backs of U.S.  taxpayers.  Senator Nelson’s misguided proposed amendment exceeds any request from the U.S. Department of Defense, and would only extend reliance upon Russia’s RD-180 well into the 2020s (if not longer).   CFIF therefore urges Senators to oppose any reversal of the current phaseout of U.S. future purchase of Russian rocket engines in the NDAA, including Sen. Nelson’s amendment.

May 27th, 2016 at 12:52 pm
“Reset” Fail: Russian Approval of U.S. Leadership at Record Low 1%
Posted by Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Captain America, Barack Obama and Surrender of U.S. Internet Authority” we highlight the Obama Administration’s uninterrupted pattern of foreign policy failure to illustrate one reason its plan to surrender oversight of the open Internet to the “international community” is a toxic idea.

Perhaps nothing better represents Obama’s record of failure better than Russia, where he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bungled their infamous “Reset” attempt.  For all of its efforts to placate Vladimir Putin to the detriment of U.S. allies like Poland and Ukraine, a new Gallup survey shows that Russians’ approval of U.S. leadership has fallen to a record low of 1%:

Just 1% of Russians approved of U.S. leadership in 2015 – the worst rating in the world last year, and the lowest approval Gallup  has measured for the U.S. in the past decade.  Remarkably, this is even worse than their previous record low 4% approval in 2014.”

It’s as if Obama and Clinton should receive commemorative shirts reading, “I Caved to Russian Dictators and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.”   Regardless, neither Obama nor Clinton can claim a single substantive foreign policy success during their tenures.  It’s again something to keep in mind as the administration pursues its inexplicable goal of surrendering U.S. Internet oversight before he coasts into retirement and leaves the rest of us to deal with the consequences.

April 26th, 2016 at 3:30 pm
Congress: Don’t Reward Russian Aggression by Purchasing Their Rockets
Posted by Print

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney presciently identified Russia as America’s foremost global threat.  Barack Obama and his apologists immediately heaped scorn upon Romney, including Obama’s sophomoric “the 1980s called” remark during one debate.

History, however, has vindicated Romney’s pronouncement.

Reflecting upon events since that date, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James stated in July 2015, “I do consider Russia to be the biggest threat.”  And none other than Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford proclaimed that same month, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I would have to point to Russia, and if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

To its credit, Congress acted accordingly.  Following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its broader pattern of malfeasance across the globe, Congress, as part of two consecutive National Defense Authorization Acts, overwhelmingly supported a gradual phase out of purchases of Russian rocket engines through no sooner than 2020. The law could not have been any more accommodating without allowing indefinite purchases of these engines.

Sadly, today some seek to reverse that prudent Congressional action by sending some $540 million more to the Russian government for at least 18 new Russian RD-180 engines. Despite the law unambiguously allowing engines through at least 2020, they claim that they’re needed until a new domestically-manufactured engine arrives in 2019.  Those claims, however, do not accord with reality.  Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) summarized that reality cogently:

Today, we have two space launch providers – ULA and SpaceX – that, no matter what happens with the Russian RD-180, will be able to provide fully redundant capabilities with ULA’s Delta IV and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and eventually, the Falcon Heavy space launch vehicles.  There will be no capability gap.  The Atlas V is not going anywhere anytime soon.”

He further noted that ending reliance would not result in increased costs to the taxpayer.

In fact, according to [the Department of Defense Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation], the cost of meeting assured access to space requirements without the use of Russian rocket engines could be similar to what we pay today.”

Reversing America’s existing prohibition would merely reward Russian behavior and thereby undermine global and national security.  As evidence, consider the words of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin:

The sale of engines benefits our engine making enterprises, in that they use the money for their own modernization…  We need the most modern engines that produce more thrust.  In order to design them, we need free money.”

Notably, rogue nations like Iran remain prime beneficiaries of Russian rocket technological advances.

The Obama Administration’s infamous “reset” attempt with Russia several years ago stands among its most costly foreign policy misjudgments.  We cannot afford to repeat that mistake by failing to learn from our mistakes and rewarding Russia’s worldwide menace.

April 20th, 2016 at 4:41 pm
The USS No Repect
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 28th, 2014 at 4:04 pm
Podcast: U.S. Foreign Policy
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Chris Griffin, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Initiative, discusses some of America’s most pressing foreign policy concerns, including ISIS and Iraq, Israel and Hamas, and Russia and Ukraine, and why it is imperative for the United States to improve its credibility in foreign policy.

Listen to the interview here.

July 2nd, 2014 at 6:22 pm
An Energy Policy that Creates Jobs and Prestige

“By boosting our energy production, the U.S. could restore its diminishing influence in the world without expending blood and treasure – in fact, we would reap major economic benefits,” writes Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Nunes is an up-and-coming member of the House Ways and Means Committee and is known for thinking big on how to use tax reform as a means to reestablish American leadership in the global economy.

Rationalizing our energy policy would go a long way too.

Thanks to improvements in technology large, untapped domestic oil and natural gas reservoirs are now reachable. States like North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma are moving to capitalize, while huge potential awaits enterprising politicians and businesses in California and Colorado.

The benefits are many. More energy production means more jobs in extracting, refining and shipping. For example, an entry-level rig worker in North Dakota averages about $66,000 a year, while the average oil industry job in the state was $112,462 as of 2012. That also means more jobs for people serving workers flush with disposal income.

There’s also a national security angle. With Iraq’s oil fields under siege by Islamic militants, Venezuela constantly swayed by demagogic collectivists and Russia threatening to cut off natural gas shipments, it’s time for the United States to take the steps necessary to ensure greater energy independence.

Unsurprisingly, Nunes wants President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as implement other measures to put the nation in a game-changing position. Of course, that isn’t happening unless Obama adopts Bill Clinton’s triangulation strategy.

Don’t hold your breath.

Still, Nunes makes a compelling case for using national energy policy as a way to improve both our domestic economy and global prestige.

It’s an angle that economically recessed, war-weary Americans might soon embrace.

March 28th, 2014 at 8:26 am
Podcast: Putin’s Ukraine Strategy
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Leon Aron, Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses how far Russian President Putin will go in Crimea and other parts of the Ukraine, what will stop him, and the impact, if any, of sanctions imposed by the United States.

Listen to the interview here.

March 25th, 2014 at 11:09 am
Ramirez Cartoon: World Famous Bear Trainer
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

March 14th, 2014 at 1:34 pm
Could Obama Neuter Putin by Increasing Natural Gas Exports?

That is the interesting idea being floated by commentators looking for ways to halt Russia’s military adventurism in Ukraine.

If direct military intervention is off the table – and at this point it’s hard to imagine the Obama administration going that route – then exporting America’s vast new reservoir of liquefied natural gas to Europe could be a way to deter Russian aggression in the region while at the same time strengthening our allies.

Gazprom, a huge state-controlled gas provider in Russia, supplies much of Europe. Hesitancy on the part of some European governments to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is tied to Russia’s use of Gazprom to raise prices or restrict access when confronted with political situations it does not like. Increasing United States exports of its natural gas stock to Europe would diminish this threat substantially, allowing America’s European allies to take a more assertive stance against further Russian force.

In order to wean Europe off of Russian gas, President Barack Obama “should order the Energy Department to expedite authorization for roughly 25 liquefied natural gas export facilities. Demand all decisions within six weeks. And express major U.S. support for a southern-route pipeline to export Caspian Sea gas to Europe without traversing Russia or Ukraine,” writes Charles Krauthammer.

This solution puts an abundant natural resource to work for America’s national security interests, and also increases the number of domestic production and manufacturing jobs. The only hitch is that it requires President Obama to commit his administration to an energy policy opposed by liberal environmentalists. That alone probably dooms an otherwise win-win alternative to direct military intervention or sitting pat while Russia reconstitutes the Soviet Union. If so, it’s more confirmation that current Oval Office decisions are based more on pleasing special interest groups than helping domestic workers or our foreign allies.

October 1st, 2013 at 5:20 pm
Putin for the Peace Prize?

Unlikely? Sure. But nonetheless a group of pro-Putin Russians sent a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee requesting consideration for their country’s president.

“The group says Putin deserves the honor for his efforts in brokering an agreement for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons under international control, a plan the group says helped avert a ‘new world war,’” according to Breitbart.com.

Then the story stops being funny.

Drawing a contrast to President of the United States Barack Obama, the group’s leader says that Putin, “who is trying to stop the war and suggest a political solution, is more worthy of such a title.”

Now, of course Putin – the man who invaded South Ossetia during the 2008 Summer Olympics – is no peace-loving reincarnation of Ghandi. The lifeline he threw to Obama over Syria was nothing more than a canny power politics move that makes it easier for his authoritarian allies in Damascus to oppress their people with impunity.

Still, the argument that Putin deserves a fair hearing to receive the Peace Prize is at least plausible since the committee in charge of conferring it debased its standards by awarding its 2009 installment to Obama on the pretext that he might do something worthy to receive it.

Four years later, Obama was poised to start a war until Putin negotiated a European-style system of endless weapons inspections and diplomatic meetings. Had the roles been reversed, Obama supporters would be claiming their man made good on the Nobel’s committee’s prediction. But since history played out the other way, perhaps the American president can do the Norwegians a favor and mail their devalued token to Russia.

August 15th, 2013 at 8:34 pm
The Lawless Presidency, Continued
Posted by Print

I’ve  written here several times before about the increasingly lawless shape that the Obama Administration has taken in recent years — whether it’s making recess appointments when Congress is still in session, exempting its friends from Obamacare, or trying to make the DREAM Act law via executive order, the reflexive contempt for the separation of powers is regularly apparent. Now, two more items on that front.

First, our friend John Yoo, writing alongside John Bolton at National Review, notes Obama’s decision to bypass Congress’s authority over international treaties in pursuit of a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia:

The Constitution, however, still stands athwart Obama’s rush to a nuclear-free utopia. Article II, Section 2 declares that the president “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties,” but only if “two thirds of the Senators present concur.” President Obama’s last nuclear-reduction pact, the 2011 New START Treaty with Russia, cut the U.S. nuclear arsenal to dangerously low levels, 750 strategic delivery systems and 1,550 warheads. It passed the Senate by a vote of 71–26, but only after breaking a filibuster with 67 votes, not one to spare.

Uncertain it can persuade a dozen Republicans to err again, the administration is considering a Russian deal without Senate approval. According to his spokesman, Secretary of State Kerry told senators that they “would be consulted as we moved forward into discussions with the Russian Federation, but did not indicate that the administration had decided to codify any results in a treaty.” Unnamed administration officials say Washington and Moscow could engage in reciprocal weapons cuts without a written agreement.

Those unnamed Administration officials are right, of course. There’d be nothing to prevent the two countries from coincidentally reducing stockpiles at the same time. At that point, however, it’s not a treaty, it’s a handshake promise, which sort of defeats the whole purpose. Given that international law is basically fictive, however, even a real treaty wouldn’t be particularly enforceable (especially with the roguish Putin), so we need not lose too much sleep over this one.

Then, this tidbit from the Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama is looking to unilaterally impose a $5-per-year tax on all cellphone users to avoid asking a recalcitrant Congress for funding.

The Washington Post first reported the story Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency headed by three Obama appointees, would collect the tax, tacking on an additional charge to devices already subject to local, state and federal fees, along with sales taxes…

Deputy White House press secretary John Earnest denied that the move was an “end run” around Congress in a press briefing Wednesday, but added that Congress’s “dysfunctional” state could justify an executive override.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a lot of action in Congress, so the president has advocated an administrative, unilateral action to get this done,” Ernest said.

In my column this week, I compared Obama to his progressive forebear, Woodrow Wilson. This only strengthens the case. Wilson, as you can read here, would have been an enthusiastic cheerleader for precisely this kind of executive chutzpah.

June 29th, 2013 at 12:01 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Weakness
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 14th, 2013 at 8:12 pm
How the Russians Roll Us
Posted by Print

John Bolton has a characteristically clear-minded op-ed just out in the Wall Street Journal about Russia’s antagonistic position vis-a-vis our interests in Syria. Quoth the former UN Ambassador:

Since Syria’s civil war began, Mr. Obama has insisted, contrary to fact, that the U.S. and Russia have a common interest in resolving the crisis and stabilizing the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent efforts to secure Russian co-sponsorship of a peace conference, at which Washington will push for Assad’s ouster, reflect Mr. Obama’s illusion.

The objective evidence consistently demonstrates that Russia has no interest whatever in eliminating its only remaining Arab ally. Moscow’s military and financial assistance to Damascus continues undiminished, along with its hold on the Cold War-era Tartus naval base, strategically positioned on Syria’s Mediterranean coast—but now facing only a phantom U.S. Sixth Fleet. Despite the hoopla surrounding the announcement of the proposed peace talks, their starting date, attendees, agenda and prospects all remain uncertain.

Most dramatically, Russia last month reaffirmed its commitment to deliver sophisticated S-300 air-defense missile systems to Assad. Although Israeli leaders have played down the sale’s significance, this combination of advanced radars and missiles, which can defeat any non-stealthy aircraft (and Israel does not now have stealth planes), could change the strategic balance in Syria as well as in Lebanon and Iran—to Israel’s detriment and ours.

These are not, needless to say the actions of a friend.

Scratch the surface a bit and you’ll see the folly not only of the Obama Administration’s Russian “reset” policy, but also of every one of our “peace through vacuous niceties” diplomatic endeavors, whether in the former Soviet Union, China, or the Muslim world.

Our differences are not the product of misunderstandings. All international conflict does not stem from a global game of telephone gone horribly wrong. States and certain non-state actors (such as terrorists) rationally pursue their interests, which are defined both in material terms (economic advantage, balance of power considerations) and ideological ones. If those interests are fundamentally incompatible, no measure of sweet reason will make them otherwise. In the case of Russia, which defines one of its imperatives as checking American power wherever it can, that is precisely the case.

March 14th, 2011 at 9:35 pm
Celebrated Historian Says Obama Doesn’t Get History
Posted by Print

Washington is a town where being an intellectual means being relentlessly synchronized with the conventional wisdom, no matter how vapid. That’s how President Obama (no doubt a smart man by any reasonable standard — all presidents are, almost inevitably) has been elevated to the commanding heights of the cognitive elite by the Beltway press corps. Not so fast, says one guy who actually knows what he’s talking about.

In one brief run in a piece in the new edition of Newsweek, famed Harvard historian Niall Ferguson absolutely eviscerates President Obama’s glib reading of revolutionary history:

President Obama is reluctant to intervene in the bloody civil war now underway in Libya. As a senior aide told The New York Times last week, “He keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic.” I like that notion of organic revolutions—guaranteed no foreign additives, exclusive to Whole Foods. I like it because, like so much about this administration, it is both trendy and ignorant.

Was the American Revolution “completely organic”? Funny, I could have sworn those were French ships off Yorktown. What about Britain’s Glorious Revolution, the one that established parliamentary rule? Strange, I had this crazy idea that William III was a Dutchman.

The reality is that very few revolutions, good or bad, succeed without some foreign assistance. Lenin had German money; Mao had Soviet arms. Revolutions that don’t get some help from outside aren’t so much inorganic as unsuccessful.

President Obama is that cocky student always ready to wow the class with a raised hand and a lithe tongue. Dr. Ferguson is the kid who actually read the material and, after a certain point, just can’t take the prima donna’s hollow showboating. Nice work, Dr. F.

February 22nd, 2011 at 11:52 pm
Gorbachev Speaks Truth to Power
Posted by Print

As post-communist Russia has drifted further and further towards authoritarianism, one seemingly insurmountable obstacle has thwarted would-be reformers: the lack of an opposition figure who can challenge Vladimir Putin’s moral legitimacy without inviting swift reprisals from his government. That challenge is now coming from a seemingly unlikely figure: the final President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. As the UK Guardian reports:

Russia under prime minister Vladimir Putin is a sham democracy, Mikhail Gorbachev has said in his harshest criticism yet of the ruling regime.

“We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, a prime minister and so on. But it’s more of an imitation,” the last president of the Soviet Union said.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his 80th birthday, Gorbachev criticised Putin for manipulating elections.

In response to the prime minister and former president’s comments that he and his protégé, President Dmitry Medvedev, would decide between them who would run for office in March 2012, Gorbachev said: “It’s not Putin’s business. It must be decided by the nation in elections.”

He called Putin’s statements a sign of “incredible conceit”.

Asked how he thought the regime approached human rights, Gorbachev said: “There’s a problem there. It’s a sign of the state of our democracy.” He was echoing statements made by Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, during a visit to Russia last week.

Gorbachev said United Russia, the ruling party founded with the sole goal of supporting Putin’s leadership, was a throwback.

“United Russia reminds me of the worst copy of the Communist party,” he said. “We have institutions but they don’t work. We have laws but they must be enforced.”

The aging Gorbachev won’t be the figure to lead the political opposition to Putin. But his authority can provide a beacon of hope where there was none before. Bravo, comrade.

December 3rd, 2010 at 8:21 pm
World Cup Score: Russia 1; U.S. 0

Not even former President Bill Clinton could sway the hearts and wallets of the voters who shunned the United States in favor of Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.  Apparently, the ad-lib prone ex-president deviated from the script, plugging his eponymous global initiative instead of making America’s case for hosting the world’s most popular sporting event.

Instead, that honor will be enjoyed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the desert Muslim emirate of Qatar.  Coming on the heels of the Olympic Committee’s rejection of the Obama Administration’s push to bring the Summer Games to Chicago that means the two most recent Democratic presidents (by definition, acceptable citizens in the international community) have failed to turn their supposed popularity into victories for their countries.
Oh well; wait ‘til next, next decade…

October 19th, 2010 at 2:05 pm
From Tehran, With a Warning

A parallel alliance between the world’s governing thugs continues to follow a James Bond movie scenario: buffoonish villains pursuing absurdly dramatic evil.  Other than a shared penchant for casual clothing and over-the-top rhetoric, however, there’s nothing funny about the increasingly close alliance between Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

This week, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is traveling to Russia and Iran to secure cooperation agreements on nuclear enrichment, oil production and other stick-in-the-eye measures to America and its allies.

At some point, Americans will wake up to a clutch of hostile nations that have nuclear weapons in volatile regions.  Hopefully, the Obama Administration is doing much more strategic planning than waiting for a Felix Leiter-type CIA operative to save the day.

August 25th, 2010 at 6:27 pm
Vladimir Putin, Action Star

You can tell a lot about a man from his pastimes.  According to the Associated Press (with associated photos), the former Russian president shot a gray whale with a crossbow from a rubber speed boat in choppy arctic waters.

This isn’t Putin’s first brush with staged danger.

He has been photographed fishing bare-chested in Russia’s Altai region, and was shown on television diving into an icy river and swimming the butterfly stroke.

In April he attached a satellite-tracking collar on a tranquilized polar bear. He also has shot a Siberian tiger with a tranquilizer gun and released leopards into a wildlife sanctuary.

While there’s no need for President Obama to wrestle an alligator or box with a grizzly bear, it would be nice if our dear leader could compensate by showing a bit more backbone in the foreign policy arena; especially towards Iran and the country that built its new nuclear facility.  (I.e. Russia)