Leaving Stalin’s cavernous Kremlin office, Churchill charged down the long, dark, grim corridor, “looking neither left nor right. He struck a match on the Kremlin wall and without breaking stride lighted a cigar.”
When he met with President Obama, Russia's Vladimir Putin was rude, offhanded, and wholly uncooperative. It was almost as if he had lighted a match on the skin of Air Force One and lighted his own cigar from it.
We have to go back to the Carter era for a parallel example in American history. Jimmy Carter had pledged to choose professional diplomats to represent us abroad, not big campaign givers. Malcolm Toon was one of the most skillful of those diplomatic professionals. Carter tapped Toon to go to Moscow. There, Ambassador Toon regularly sounded the warning on Soviet intentions. Later, he would say: “In thirty years in the diplomatic corps, I only feared for America once. And that was when Jimmy Carter was president.” The hand-picked diplomat said that Carter’s weakness was provocative to the Soviets, and that made him fear war.
It was Churchill himself who recognized that Russia is not easy to deal with. “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” he famously said. But he knew this much:
The Russians have nothing but contempt for weakness -- and the Obama policy toward Russia has been invertebrate from Day One.