Hillary Clinton

Democrats and Hillary Clinton Have Failed for 8 Years to "Curb" Vladimir Putin

The 2008 DNC was filled with confident vows about taming the Russian bear. So much for that.


On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, one country, and one authoritarian, was on everybody's lips: Russia's Vladimir Putin.

It was July 2016, sure, but it was also August 2008, when Democrats held their quadrennial convention in Denver against the backdrop of war between Russia and Georgia. Having been out of the White House for almost eight years, and energized in opposition to George W. Bush's foreign policy, the donkey party had confident ideas about how to handle Putin.

"In recent days, we've once again seen the consequences of [Bush's foreign policy] neglect with Russia's challenge to the free and democratic country of Georgia," soon-to-be Vice President Joe Biden said in his convention speech. "Barack Obama and I will end this neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we'll help the people of Georgia rebuild."

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry, a foreign policy advisor for Candidate Obama, insisted that "Russia really wants respect…We start off by treating Russia with respect." And Obama himself vowed to "renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can…curb Russian aggression."

Needless to say, Russian aggression during the Obama era has been anything but "curbed"—Putin annexed Crimea under military threat, and continues to be involved in low-level skirmishing in Ukraine. "Treating Russia with respect," in the form of abandoning a planned NATO missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, didn't put a dent in Putin's scheming, particularly in the countries under question: Russian intelligence and state-owned entities have been pouring into former Warsaw Pact countries, effectively turning the once-free country of Hungary into a client state.

Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, teamed up with President Obama and Vice President Biden on a "reset" of Washington-Moscow relations, betting that newly installed President Dmitry Medvedev would prove to be a more willing diplomatic partner. Clinton even presented her counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with a bright red reset button in 2009. And no, I'm not making that up:

In her book Hard Choices, Clinton makes a game attempt to declare at least some victory:

The reset led to a number of early successes, including imposing strong sanctions on Iran and North Korea, opening a northern supply route to equip our troops in Afghanistan, bringing Russia into the World Trade Organization, winning UN backing for the no-fly zone in Libya, and expanding counterterrorism cooperation.

Observant readers will note that most of this stuff was cooperation in letting the U.S. flex its muscles harder, rather than curbing or moderating Russia's internal crackdowns and external aggression in its Near Abroad. At any rate, "the tone began to shift in late 2011," beginning with Medvedev announcing he would not run for re-election, and continuing with the ensuing disputed election. While Clinton in her book insists that if you had "more modest expectations," then "the reset delivered," she nonetheless advised in her January 2013 exit memo to the president that (in her words) "we should hit the pause button on new efforts."

"We had to be realistic about Putin's intentions and the danger he represented to his neighbors and the global order, and design our policy accordingly," she wrote. "In stark terms, I advised the President that difficult days lay ahead and that our relationship with Moscow would likely get worse before it got better."

Conducting good foreign policy is hard, quickly exposing the limits of American omnipotence. But as the Democratic Party power structure cranks up for some full on Russia-baiting against both Donald Trump and Wikileaks, it's worth remembering that very selling proposition of its presidential nominee is her experience conducting foreign policy, and that her track record with Russia was at best naïve and ineffectual. Democrats made the fatal mistake of believing their own campaign bluster, including the narcissistic notion that being different than George W. Bush was enough to be better.

After the jump, if you can stomach it, read some of candidate Barack Obama's 2008 convention forecasting of what he would accomplish with American foreign policy:

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

NEXT: Clinton, Trump Embrace Zero-Sum Thinking While Regular Dems & Reps Do Not

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    1. “Clinton even presented her counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with a bright red reset button in 2009.”

      The worst Secretary of State in history actually presented Lavrov with an “Overcharge” button, not a “Reset” button. Her imbeciles in the State Department couldn’t even do that right: the Russian word for “overcharge” is used as a synonym for “rip off”.

      So it’s no surprise that Clinton didn’t just fail to improve US-Russia relations, but instead made them far, far worse.

      US-Russian relations were normal enough that Putin felt it appropriate to visit the US on state visits three times during the Bush Administration. Two of those were state visits. Since Obama/Clinton took charge of US-Russian relations, Putin has only visited once, and that for a UN meeting, the sort of thing that even an Iranian or Libyan prime minister would attend from time to time. George W. Bush felt comfortable enough to visit Russia seven times during his tenure. Obama has visited just twice, and that for a scheduled G20 meeting that he couldn’t avoid and a chilly meeting with Putin and Medvedev.

      Clinton seems to love to antagonize the Russians and finds it convenient to blame all sorts of things on the Russians, even the incompetence of her IT staff.

  1. I’d hardly categorize Obama banning the importation of Russian-made AK-47s as ‘failing to curb’. And didn’t someone somewhere refuse to drink Russian Vodka in their V & Ts until the Russkies started being nice to gays?

    It’s not like we’re just sitting idly. There might have even been hashtags thrown about.

  2. “I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

    Wait, wait … He still has several months.

  3. The word swirling around the DNC seems to be that Russians are responsible for the DNC email hack, because they want Trump to win the election. I’m not buying it. It really makes no sense to want the tough guy to win the election, when instead you could get feckless Hillary. Russia has been doing pretty much whatever it wants to during the 8 year reign of Democrats, why would they want that to change?

    1. There’s no doubt the Russians are behind the DNC leaks, because Wikileaks has been an obviously not-even-trying-to-hide-it front for Russian intelligence for years. You don’t even need to know anything technical: Assange has Russian security at the Ecuadorian Embassy and Snowden was escorted from Hong Kong to Moscow by FSB agents. My question to the media is: you fuckers never cared about any of this before, so WTF is it such a big deal now?

      1. But that doesn’t mean wikileaks only releases what they get from the Russians. What if the Israelis did it or it really was some random hacker. The fact that wikileaks is a Russian front operation doesn’t mean they wouldn’t still leak it. It just means the Russians are okay with them doing it, not that the Russians are behind it.

        1. Whoever did the hack isn’t relevant to Hyperion’s comment. The fact that Wikileaks released it is evidence that Russia wants it released.

    2. I think their security was bad and it was likely just an ordinary hacker. If anyone wants to tip the election to Trump, it is the wikileaks guy. He has made it clear he hates Hillary’s guts and will do whatever he can to ensure she losses.

      If a foreign power did it, Brett L called it this morning. The better guess is Israel. This is one hell of a payback for the little stunt Obama pulled trying to get Bibi kicked out of office. I could totally see the Israelis doing this as payback.

      The bigger issue to me is that the emails clearly show the DNC fixed the primaries to fuck Sanders. The whole thing was a fraud. We will never know if Sanders would be the nominee if the primaries had been fair. That is just astounding. If I am a Sanders supporter, how can I stay in the party fixed the primary to ensure my guy didn’t have a fair shot? This is as Joe Biden says a big fucking deal. And a bigger fucking deal than even the media is portraying it.

  4. Fracking clipped Russia’s financial wings in ways sanctions never could, and has (still ongoing) remade the geopolitical landscape regarding energy into one much more conducive to the security, economy, and independence of the United States.

    We owe that all to Obama.

    1. I saw a little coverage of pre-DNC protesters in Cleveland and the signs I saw most were stuff like:

      Tax Carbon!


      Stop fracking!

      Are these retards for fucking real or paid DNC stooges? It’s nearly impossible to believe the former.

    2. Obama…he’s the one who kept saying “Drill, baby, drill!” right?

      1. Yes, he wanted energy prices to ‘necessarily skyrocket’. I guess his secret plan was fracking. No one is smart enough to figure out how that works, except the Harvard constitutional scholar.

    3. I think you’re being sarcastic, because otherwise you’d have to be an idiot troll and it would be ungenerous to think that.

  5. RE: Democrats and Hillary Clinton Have Failed for 8 Years to “Curb” Vladimir Putin
    The 2008 DNC was filled with confident vows about taming the Russian bear. So much for that.

    It’s not that the democrats (and republicans) have failed to curb Putin, it’s that both parties want to emulate Mr. Putin, and why not?
    He has all the traits and passions both parties want to employ once their in power.
    Monkey see, monkey do.

  6. We elected a junior senator from Illinois’ Democratic political machine. What the FUCK did we think we were getting?

    1. Racist!

      Or at least that’s what many of us were called when we tried to point out that fact.

  7. Hey, what do ya know? an article about Hillary that only mentions Trump once. Nice job, Reason

  8. Taming the Russian bear


    1. That’s not funny.

  9. I’m so sick of these fucking Trump articles! Come up with som…what’s that? It’s not a trump article? You don’t say! *sheepishly walks away
    Now how many of you squawkers from last week are prepared to eat crow?
    (Re-posted this from a dead thread)

    1. They’re off to a decent start.

      Still well short of the spittle-flecked rants posted last week, but its early.

    2. Still well short of last week’s cargo of spittle-flecked rants, but its early days, still.

  10. “Treating Russia with respect,” in the form of abandoning a planned NATO missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, didn’t put a dent in Putin’s scheming, particularly in the countries under question

    Oy vey, Matt. Since when is it your job to regurgitate Bill Kristol’s talking points for him? The “planned NATO missile shield” was Bush era bullshit, supposedly directed at Iranian missiles, if you’ll remember. And, please note, our missile shields don’t work. It was (in part) U.S. support for the pro-European faction in Ukraine, which overthrew the legally elected government of that state, which prompted Putin’s grab of Crimea, which, please note, had been part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great and which had never been a part of Ukraine. The Obama Administration hasn’t been too soft on Russia. They’ve been too tough, trying to punish Russia for the sins of both Stalin and the Czars. It isn’t America’s job to bring democracy to Ukraine. Why are you suddenly going all Woodrow Wilson on our asses?

    1. If Russia is left alone to start dominating Eastern Europe, we’ve got another cold war on our hands. And if you think military spending is high now, wait until the US has to send forces to Germany and Poland. Because Western Europe sure doesn’t have the money or will to do it. Especially since Gazprom can shut off the gas anytime.

      1. Yep. But Germany can fuck off. They need to learn some lessons, again.

      2. So the US should overthrow and bribe eastern European governments so that Russia won’t?

        Which is the chicken and which is the egg?

        1. Poland, the Baltics, etc. don’t need to be bribed to be against Russian aggression.

          1. Indeed.

            They remember what it was like to be under the Russian boot not all that long ago.

          2. And what “aggression” is that?

            1. And what “aggression” is that?

              This has to be a joke.

    2. So the shield’s don’t work and even if they did they can’t be used to do anything except prevent Russia and Iran from threatening Eastern Europe with nuclear destruction but building them was totally provocative and wrong. We are wrong for building them and Russia is totally justified to be angry that it might not be able to threaten and terrorize its neighbors anymore.

      You really are a moron Alan.

      1. What do expect from a guy who can’t even spell his own name correctly?

        Putin fancies himself the new Stalin who will reconstitute the old Soviet Union.

        Trying to keep him from doing that hardly constitutes punishing Russia for the sins of the old Stalin.

      2. We have wasted vast fortunes on our past Cold War, so lets waist some more

        Eastern Europe is not the US, and defending the US is the only legitimate job for the US government.

        P.S, Eastern Europe only wanted the missile shield to get US money and US troops which they hoped would be a trip line for the US to defend them since they don’t trust Western Europe to do it. They would have been just as happy to have the US military band school stationed there.

    3. Of course, why Russia’s “respect” requires that its neighbors be defenseless is not entirely clear.

  11. including imposing strong sanctions on Iran and North Korea

    I remember that. Didn’t those countries used to have authoritarian governments before the sanctions?

  12. Reason has now gone full Neocon. Congratulations.

  13. Reason has now gone full Neocon. Congratulations.

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    =======? http://www.Alpha-Careers.com

  15. “””effectively turning the once-free country of Hungary into a client state.””

    Welch and the rest of the open borders fanatics are just mad at Hungary because they put up a fence and it is keeping the invading “refugees” out.

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