Jonah Goldberg

Things are moving far too fast in Kiev, Moscow and Crimea to write about events there. But the past isn't going anywhere. Though you wouldn't know that from the way the Obama administration talks about it.

Throughout this crisis -- indeed, throughout all of Barack Obama's presidency -- the White House has been eager to insist that our long, unpleasant history with the Russians is behind us.

Obviously, every administration wants a fresh start with long-time rivals. That's why there have been four "resets" with the Russians since 1991, including George W. Bush's famous soul-searching gaze into Vladimir Putin's eyes and Hillary Clinton's comic effort to give the Russians a "reset" button (that actually said "overcharge" on it).

Fresh starts are fine. But when Obama came into office, his administration implicitly blamed our poor relationship with Russia on Bush, as if Russia's misdeeds were provoked by America.

In 2012, Obama mocked Mitt Romney for his claim that the Russians are our "No. 1 geopolitical foe," and scoffed: "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back."

That scorn looks embarrassing enough given recent events. But the truth is Obama's hostility to Romney's policies had little to do with them being outdated. Obama didn't like America's Cold War policies during the Cold War.

In 1983, then-Columbia University student Obama penned a lengthy article for the school magazine placing the blame for U.S.-Soviet tensions largely on America's "war mentality" and the "twisted logic" of the Cold War. President Reagan's defense buildup, according to Obama, contributed to the "silent spread of militarism" and reflected our "distorted national priorities" rather than what should be our goal: a "nuclear free world."

Of course, it's unfair to put too much weight on anyone's youthful writings. Except there's precious little evidence his views have changed over the years.

In his first term, President Obama's biggest priority with Russia was to get the two countries on the path to that "nuclear free world." One of his -- and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's -- first actions in office was to betray our commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense.

Indeed, across a wide range of areas, it has been Obama who has been, in the words of The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl, in a 1980s-soaked "foreign policy time warp."


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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