Why Obama cannot handle Putin....
Vladimir Putin is not unsophisticated and certainly not inexperienced. He is a very calculating intelligence professional and since the 1990s an equally calculating politician. The problem that President Obama has with his counterpart is that Putin just does not respect him. From Putin's standpoint Obama is quite deficient in his knowledge and experience in world politics and thus inept as a prospective partner in evolving issues such as Iran and Syria.
Apparently this lack of understanding by President Obama has arisen before in the private conversations between the U.S. and Russian leaders. Putin was treated to the Obama pedantry much the same way the American president has insultingly lectured other world figures as he did P.M. Netanyahu of Israel. The New York Times reported Pres. Obama's remark about a "Polish death camp…" so infuriated Poland's P.M. Donald Tusk that he referred to Obama as guilty of "ignorance, lack of knowledge, bad intentions." President Obama's behavior on numerous occasions gives a lie to his vaunted intellectual competence in the field of diplomacy. Apparently Putin -- hardly known as a mild-mannered person -- chose to react at their meeting in Los Cabos.
The practical, though tangential impact of this highly personalized conflict between the American and Russian presidents is to deny foreign policy accolades to Hillary Clinton in her role as chief foreign affairs negotiator. Secretary Clinton has been dealing constructively with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. A mutual respect is reportedly to have developed between these two in spite of -- or perhaps because of - Clinton's comparative lack of a professional foreign affairs background quite exploitable by the vastly more experienced Lavrov.
Simply stated, Putin is running rings around Obama. Wittman sees Obama's hyper-narcissism driving much of this:
The world in which Barack Obama lives is dominated by himself; everything else is simply a backdrop. Putin has been well briefed on this by his intelligence profilers. It hasn't taken extraordinary talent to analyze the American president's narcissism, but the Russians surely know how to exploit it. Too bad that Barack Obama is incapable of doing the same thing the other way around.
Russia is not only running rings around US policy towards Syria; it is making overtures to Israel, an opening made possible by our diplomatic displeasure shown the Jewish state. The US coolness is due to Israel's having declined to make yet another round of pre-emptive concessions in return for the dubious privilege of talking with the Palestinians. As a Weekly Standard article notes:
The most recent unexpected twist in the labyrinthine history of the Jewish people commemorated at Netanya may be an increasing rapprochement with the Russian strongman. Having survived so many attempts at extermination, however, the Jews know that they do not always have the luxury of choosing their friends. Given that Russia has significant leverage with both Syria and Iran, while the United States appears to have none, it may seem only prudent to celebrate an example of Russian-Israeli friendship at this juncture. Certainly Israel would prefer to ally with the successor to Washington, Lincoln and Reagan than with a man who considers Joseph Stalin a hero and the break-up of the Soviet Union a catastrophe. The monument at Netanya does not mean the US.-Israel alliance is irrevocably broken. But it is a tangible reminder that we need to take the responsibilities of that relationship seriously, or risk ceding the rights to another—and decidedly unfriendly—party.
For his part, The One fancies himself a world transformational figure, and one of our best presidents. As to fostering change "O" may indeed be correct, but not for the reason he envisioned, i.e., that of bringing world peace through his beneficience & public confessional to his long list of past American sins. Not for Obama is America, in Lincoln's immortal phrase, "the last, best hope" on Earth."
The "transformation" Obama has wrought is that of diminishing America's standing around the globe, which "O" believes is essential to fostering global progress. In fact, the opposite is true. America's positive involvement--if managed competently (beyond Obama's slender skill set, perhaps within Romney's)--is essential to any liberal world order, i.e, one not driven by the planet's worst tyrants.
Bottom Line. Never as the foreign policy cliche been more true, as to America playing checkers while its adversaries (including, of course, Russia) play chess.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, Conservative Politics