Nostalgic For The Cold War? Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Crusade Against Reset

As I predicted last December (and then discussed again recently), a noisy anti-Russian corner has emerged in the U.S. House of Representatives, thanks to the ascension of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(R-FL) to the position of Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  On July 7, Ros-Lehtinen presided over the hearings intriguingly titled "Time to Pause the Reset?: Defending U.S. Interests in the Face of Russian Aggression."  Ros-Lehtinen's opening statement presents us with a useful opportunity to review her foreign-policy credentials.

The key point that Ros-Lehtinen is trying to make is that as a result of the policy of reset toward Russia, the Obama administration has made a number of unnecessary concessions to Moscow.  Among these "concessions" Ros-Lehtinen counts the civil nuclear cooperation agreement ("a gift, pure and simple") and U.S. support for Russia's entry into the WTO.  And what did the U.S. get in return?  Nothing, according to the vigilant Chairwoman.  In particular, "Russia's approach to Iran remains essentially unchanged," argues Ros-Lehtinen, conveniently forgetting Russia's ban to sell the S-300 air-defense systems and other military equipment to Tehran.  Ros-Lehtinen also charges that "Russia is…committed to stopping U.S. missile defense efforts."  Stopping?  The last time I checked, there were ongoing talks between the two countries about cooperation on missile defense.

Yet, even as blinded by the Russophobia as she is, Ros-Lehtinen must sense that bilateral disagreements on specific policy issues can't be automatically qualified as Russian aggression.  So she feels the needs to come up with examples of such, and her choices are hardly original.  It's the same list of the usual suspects: gas disputes with Ukraine and the 2008 war with Georgia.  I leave aside Ros-Lehtinen's apparent inability to apprehend the complexity of the events she's talking about.  What surprises me is her "liberal" treatment of the timing:  most of the events she mentioned took place before Obama became president and certainly before the policy of reset was announced (in spring of 2009).

 As if sensing that her body of evidence suffers from anorexia, Ros-Lehtinen adds:

"There are many other areas in which Russia still targets U.S. interests…but the list is too long to go into here."

Nice!  Almost like a prosecutor who would address the jury in court with the following:

"There are many facts pointing to the defendant's guilt, but the list is too long to go into here."

Naturally, Ros-Lehtinen couldn't ignore "the Russian government's abuses of human rights."  To highlight those, she comes up with this outstanding statement:

"And in yet another effort to prevent the democratic opposition from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Kremlin has banned Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia's most prominent democratic leaders whom I met with last year, from leaving Russia again should he return from his current visit to France."

Will someone please explain me – in plain English – what Ros-Lehtinen meant to say here?  What do Nemtsov's ability to travel abroad and the December Duma elections have in common?  Does Ros-Lehtinen suggest that Nemtsov should leave Russia to take part in the elections?  (Does Ros-Lehtinen have a staff that proofreads her statements before she articulates them in public?)

As a supporter of reset, I ought to feel good that its opponents have nothing of substance to say.  However, as an American taxpayer, I'm deeply troubled by the inability of a high-ranked congressional leader to put together an intelligible, if not intelligent, two-page statement.  I know, I know: the House Foreign Affairs Committee is not a place where U.S. foreign policy is being drawn and conducted.  And yet, this show of sheer professional incompetence questions the very system of seniority by which members of Congress, including Ros-Lehtinen, get their chairmanships in the House committees.  Isn't it time to replace it with something more meritocratic?

 

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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19 Responses to Nostalgic For The Cold War? Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Crusade Against Reset

  1. Mark says:

    Heyyyyy….did you notice if you reverse RL’s initials, you get LR?? Coincidence? Perhaps Ros-Lehtinen is La Russophobe!! Has anyone ever seen them together? Just let me ask you that.
    I wasn’t serious, of course, but the level of discourse from RL is strikingly like that available at LR. As regards the war with Georgia, both appear to have a learning curve that looks suspiciously like Homer Simpson’s CAT Scan. No matter how many times you rub their face in white, they keep surfacing with a crazy grin and shouting “black!!”
    I should have pegged her for a Nemtsov-lover, too. Is it just me, or is there a scary number of certifiably-loopy chicks in Republican politics lately? Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lori Klein, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle….women in politics have never been this nutty. And their base seems to love it.
    Sadly, many Americans already have such a distorted view of Russia that these views play very well to them.It’s easier than thinking or finding out.

  2. Touching on the spirit evident on Capitol Hill is this article propped by InoSMI:
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/07/26/russia_threatens_to_wreck_the_reset
    I think that human rights should also include a two way street in freely criticizing without penalty, what does and doesn’t typically get promoted in Western mass media. Moreover, the kind of bias evident in Russia isn’t what’s always spun. Meantime, I maintain that the greater suppression is the one that’s not getting the high profile treatment.
    InoSMI is a better example of diverse views when compared to some other venues like RFE/RL and The WaPo.
    Nevertheless, InoSMI is a bit top heavy with material from the likes of Stratfor, in relation to some other options. Likewise, vis-a-vis a Russian neolib foreign policy regular at InoSMI, along with someone else. They can can be improved upon with additional input.
    An article suggesting “hero journalism”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/15/opinion/15iht-edzolotov.html
    Must read! The Pole Andrei Zolotov mentions might very well be Zygmunt D (ZD) of openDemocracy. On the RIA Novosti show that Zolotov has hosted, ZD was a guest, as the former referred to oD as a respectable London based internet magazine.
    Zolotov is an Orthodox-Christian. Is he not truly aware of the kind of blatantly biased and inaccurate anti-ROC/anti-Russian spin regularly posted at oD?
    When he was at Harvard not so long ago, Zolotov gave a very Sorosian commentary about the disputed territories on a PBS show.
    Gotta wonder at how well some journos take criticism when compared to “Putvedev.”
    Regarding oD:
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/vladislav-inozemtsev/russian-orthodoxy-rendering-unto-god%E2%80%A6but-caesar-pulls-strings
    The kind of Russian views getting the nod at openDemocracy (oD) and a number of some other Western based venues.
    Concerning the reference to Belarus, that republic has a greater per capita number of Catholics than Russia.
    BTW, in the US and other countries where Orthodox-Christian numbers are limited, official days off aren’t given Orthodox-Christian observed holidays.
    Regarding a trial of an American in Italy (which has been recently covered in the news), a large image of a cross is in the background of the court (not that it bothers me).
    Pardon the whataboutism in noting, how charges of corruption and hypocrisy can be easily levied at other faiths.

  3. russian says:

    There are lots of narrow-minded people in the world…The above-named quotes of this woman just show that she is probably uneducated enough and just incompetent. Russian policy is rough, but you Americans shouldn’t worry, because it’s not against you. The government mobsters have been killing their own people and destroying the country. If it doesn’t change huge collapse will occur again and it’s going to be Russian Apocalypses.

  4. Poppy says:

    I second the russian.
    Maslow defines the basic need of having recognition above the needs to eat, to drink and to have sex.
    The lady in question clearly aims for recognition (which, in turn, brings up the issue of the market economy – who is the customer?), but disclose her need to change diet, quit drinking or fill up the gaps in having sex instead.
    My humble professional opinion, thou.

  5. Eugene says:

    Mark,
    Your point on RL vs. LR is sensational! Indeed, the two are mirrow images of one another.
    To the list of the Republican ladies, I’d add two more from the media/punditry gang: Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. But as opposed to your “chicks,” these are at least smart.
    Best,
    Eugene

  6. Eugene says:

    Russian,
    Thank you for your comment.
    May I ask you to elaborate on your comment on “government mobsters…killing their own people and destroying the country?”
    I mean, I don’t want to engage you in heated discussion, but being averse to very broad claims like yours, I’m just trying to understand where you’re coming from.
    Thank you in advance,
    Eugene

  7. Poppy says:

    Eugene,
    Re the “mobsters” – I bet my ass, he’s speaking of Pokemons.
    Or Telebubbies?

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