Recording the moment, part 2

Back on the 24th, I recorded Tom Tancredo, now an indy candidate for governor of Colorado, saying that President Obama should be impeached. I don’t think any specific high crimes or misdemeanors were identified. Moreover, frigging Fox News said that’s ridiculous.

“We’ll see where it goes,” I wrote on the 24th.

Five days later, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the chair of the new House Tea Party Caucus, in the word of TPM, “seems to be sitting on the fence over whether President Obama should be impeached. Instead, she’s saying that those questions are up to Congress to determine.”

So there you have it. Whatever “it” is or may be.

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Proving my point: Prior to Obama, there was a new Cold War afoot

For the duration of the George W. Bush administration, I argued that the foreign policy tactics being pursued were leading to a new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. In particular, Bush’s love for dropping billions on ineffective missile defense technology while he dismissed hard-earned nuclear arms treaties made me think this was afoot.

I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Blogs by respected people at the Columbia University Press blog said much the same. Edward Lucas, the Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist magazine has a book out arguing that it was Putin as much as Bush that was provoking the new Cold War. (Remember how Bush said he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul? That was Putin playing Bush like a fiddle.)

Finally, I saw this in The Guardian tonight:

Despite the recent thaw in relations, the US and Russia continued to spy on each other, said Mark Urnov, dean at the political science department of Russia’s Higher School of Economics.

“This [spy scandal] is an issue dating from previous years,” he said. “The security services can’t stop their activities immediately. Until recently, there was a semi-cold war between US and Russia. [Emphasis added.] So why not spy?”

Even if this does not prove my point, at very least it provides very strong support for it. A new Cold War was in the making, or even happening. And I would also argue that President Obama has effectively defused it. He’s not letting this spy ring bust get in his way of doing it.

More on the Russian spy ring

A few things:

• A total of eleven people have been arrested. They led seemingly normal lives in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

• Their neighbors thought they were average suburbanites, not spies. “‘They couldn’t have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas,’ 15-year-old Jessie Gugig quipped to the New York Times after the arrest of the Murphys.”

• This case is showing the subtly with which the Obama administration is capable of operating. From The Guardian:

[President] Obama was aware of the investigation before he met with the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at the White House last Thursday. The two leaders did not discuss the issue, Gibbs said.

• Obama knew about it, but he and Medvedev had cheeseburgers together one day in Virginia! Mr. Obama certainly is a cool-minded leader if he can pull that off.

• Curiously, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is among those who have said this won’t have a real impact on the course of Russian-American affairs. A writer for The Guardian agrees with that. (It’s my sense, too.)

• Who knew—Medvedev’s a Mac user! And an iPad user. And Steve Jobs gave Medvedev an Apple iPhone 4G during his tour of Silicon Valley. Lucky dog…

(Compare this to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s tour of California in 1959, when there was still extensive train service, and Silicon Valley didn’t exist!)

• The FBI announced the arrests a few days after Medvedev returned to Russia. David Hearst argues that this spy scandal is the last thing that Medvedev needs as he seeks to bring Russia more fully into the modern economic systems.

• The good news? The spy ring was busted before it could do any real spying.

Ukraine agrees to rid itself of weapons-grade nuclear material

Mark another point on President Obama’s scorecard. In the past month, he has gotten health insurance reform passed after 70 years of failure by anyone to do so; signed a new nuclear weapons treaty with Russia; and laid out a new policy for the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.

The latest achievement came today shortly after the start of President Obama’s nuclear summit. The White House announced this morning that Ukraine “would by 2012 get rid of enough highly enriched uranium to build ‘several weapons’.” [BBC]

President Obama has long made it clear that nuclear disarmament and containment of nuclear materials is a centerpiece of his American defense policy. This would serve several important goals, one of which is working to ensure that fissile materials don’t fall into the hands of terrorists. Ukraine’s action will remove “enough [uranium] to build several nuclear weapons” from the world stage.

According to the disarmament group NTI, Ukraine currently possesses no nuclear weapons, having transferred those back to Russia in 1996. But during the Cold War, the Soviet state had “176 Soviet SS-19 and SS-24 ICBMS with a total of 1,240 warheads (!!!) and 44 strategic bombers, as well as an unspecified number of tactical nuclear warheads placed on its territory.” After the Cold War, the bombers were converted to other uses or disassembled, and the nukes returned to Russia, and the missile silos that once could have rained fire upon us were destroyed.

Even with the reduction in deployed nukes, there was still a large amount of highly enriched uranium in different facilities about Ukraine. This morning’s announcement directly addresses that problem. It’s great news, and another achievement by our president. After a year of seeming inaction, Barack Obama has proven himself to be a leader who can positively change both our country and our world.

Presidents Obama, Medvedev sign new nuclear weapons reduction treaty

Bravo, Mr. President. Anything that helps reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world is a good thing. Steps to reduce the number of loose nukes or nuclear material is just as important.

Coverage via TPM:

While I once pondered the attempt by the previous resident of the White House to start a new Cold War that was much like the old Cold War, President Obama has taken effective steps to renew America’s relationship with Russia.

Bravo, Mr. President. Bravo.

President Obama announces new nuclear weapons treaty with Russia

It gives me a great pleasure to say that President Obama has announced what hopefully will be the first of many new nuclear weapons treaties with Russia. Indeed, he has referred to it as “a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [START],” a direct continuance of the recently expired START treaty.

According to the President’s statement, “the new START Treaty makes progress in several areas. It cuts – by about a third – the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our Allies.”

It specifically does not address the missile defense systems that are still being deployed. I know Russia has a lot of anxiety about that. And personally, I don’t think they work for anything except wasting a lot of money. Do people that were not deficit hawks until two months ago have anything to say about that?

Bravo to President Obama for having the foresight and persistence to get this through. Note that it was announced just days after the health insurance reform act was signed into law. That says a lot about his presence of mind and ability to really get stuff done. Bravo, Mr. President.