Against mounting evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin supplied the SA11 missile system that shot Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the skies, the world is drawing inevitable comparisons between the former KGB operative in Moscow and his counterpart, the ex-community organizer in the Oval Office in Washington. The contrast is anything but reassuring to a world in turmoil.
Russia provided both the SA11 missiles and the training or the personnel to deploy them. The blood on Putin’s hands is that of 298 innocent people (including 80 children) whose lives were snuffed out while traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur.
Yet the community organizer’s initial response was so wooden, so lacking in moral outrage, as to make it appear that the mass murder of 298 innocents was, to Obama anyway, no cause for alarm.
There is a clear moral divide in world affairs, but the only one who doesn’t seem to realize it is President Obama.
Even Vice President Joe Biden, in a New Yorker interview published Monday, told of a meeting he had with Putin during a visit to the Kremlin in 2011.
“I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul,” Biden recalled, in a play on the famous observation of former President George W. Bush about the Russian.
“He looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’” Biden recalled. “This is who this guy is!”
I don’t often agree with him, but Biden’s assessment of Putin was spot on. Putin lacks a moral compass: his mindset is a laser-like focus on national assertiveness.
The country he commands has a backward economy that relies primarily on oil and gas for hard currency. Longevity is decreasing while alcoholism is on the rise. All that Russia has are sophisticated weapons that Putin has given to Ukrainian separatists and which have now been used to terrorize airline passengers worldwide.
Putin is an accessory to the cold-blooded murders of 298 people, but he has so far been able to act with impunity because our president does not have a genuine understanding of his adversary.
While President Obama recognizes the danger of aggression, he seems to view it as an abstraction, unrelated to the conduct of specific actors. To him, the attack on the embassy in Benghazi was tragic, but he seemed never able to tie those events to al Qaeda. He has taken a similar lawyerly tack in the case of Flight 17.