Thu, 05 Mar 2009 22:13:44 +0000 – By Mike Baker President Americas and Co-Founder, Dilligence LLC/Former CIA covert field operations officer
Loyal readers of The People's Weekly Brief will know that every week we gather around the pool table at the PWB headquarters to spin the Wheel of Gloom. This clever time saving device -- custom built some time ago by Bobo the talking intern -- ensures that we can cut out all that useless yammerin' about topic selection and spend more time pumping money into the economy via Buzzy's beer redistribution program.
Guess who's been passing secret notes back and forth like school kids hoping for a new romance?
Imagine our delight last night when the wheel landed on something other than an economic crisis topic. Hurrah we all cried. I don't know about you, but I'm done on the economy. Wake me when it's my turn to be shipped off to the countryside for reeducation camp. I can't wait to renounce capitalism, free markets, small government and cable TV. Onward and upward comrades.
Every negotiation we have should be from a position of strength and should leave no room for misinterpretation. Now is probably not the time to appear soft and squishy as we work to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.
According to unnamed administration sources who can't keep their yaps shut, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have been making googly eyes at each other. Apparently the first note was passed by Medvedev to Obama shortly after the inauguration. While I haven't seen a copy of the note, I have it on good authority that Medvedev congratulated Obama on his victory, complimented him on his physique and said he likes him way better than George Bush. Seriously, that's what the sources tell me.
Now here's where it gets a little goofy. Apparently Obama responded with his own secret note just three weeks ago, moving one step closer to BFF status by suggesting the U.S. might just give up plans for the missile defense system that the Russians have been opposing for years. If you haven't been keeping up with the U.S.-Russian relationship, let me provide a brief summary to get you up to speed. Mind you, I am skipping over some details:
There was this thing called the Cold War during which the U.S. and Russia had a really long staring contest. The world was divided between countries that took Russian money and countries that took U.S. money. There was a foray by the Soviets into Afghanistan which didn't go well but certainly shouldn't serve as a history lesson for anyone bothering to pay attention.
Eventually the Soviet Union collapsed because we had better television shows, rock 'n' roll and Ronald Reagan. Russia started fiddling with their own version of democracy and free markets while staying pretty pissed about losing their sphere of influence. Eventually George W. Bush looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin's eyes and made some bizarre comment about seeing Putin's soul. Putin spent several years laughing about that one as he asserted increasing control over Russia, limiting press freedoms, increasing state influence on the economy and posing shirtless.
The U.S. came up with a missile defense system to counter Iran's efforts to build nuclear weapons and negotiated with countries previously under Russian influence to host the missile system. This made Putin angry and the Russians vowed to never invite Bush for any play dates. Putin installed Medvedev as the new President because he looks a lot like Charlie McCarthy.
Obama wins the election and suggests the U.S. might not be all that interested in pursuing the missile defense system. Vice President Joe Biden says it's time to "push the reset button" on the U.S.-Russian relationship. Ronald Reagan rolls over in his grave. This brings us to the present time.
According to sources, the recent note from Obama to Medvedev was meant to imply that the U.S. could reconsider the missile system if the Iranians were willing to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The implication appeared to be that if the Russians were to use their influence over the Iranians to get them to change their ways, the U.S. could alter its stance and perhaps not upset the Russians by basing the missile defense system in what the Russians still consider their backyard.
One bellicose yet anonymous administration source said about Obama's note... "It's almost saying to them, put up or shut up." Who knew the new administration could be so rugged? My, what big strong muscles we have.
Except the day after the story broke in The New York Times about Obama's memo, Medvedev, who may or may not get his talking points from Putin, said thanks for the note but they had no interest in a deal in which the U.S. would shelve the plan in exchange for Russia's help on Iran. At the same time, Poland and the Czech Republic were standing around like jilted girlfriends wondering what the hell was going on. The leaders of both countries had expended a good deal of political capital working with Washington on the defense system and now are watching the new administration going behind their backs to chat up Russia.
Once Medvedev made it clear that they weren't linking any efforts with Iran to a discussion about the defense system, the Obama administration had to respond in order to avoid looking too feckless. Obama announced that the letter was not "some sort of quid pro quo" but a simple statement of fact. Defense Secretary Bob Gates said the administration was not "trying to put the Russians on the spot." Perhaps we should send another secret note saying "... honestly, it's not you, it's me."
What a load of crap. Every negotiation we have should be from a position of strength and should leave no room for misinterpretation. Now is probably not the time to appear soft and squishy as we work to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.
Just my opinion. Til' next week, stay safe.
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Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector. He has recently returned to Diligence LLC, a company he co-founded in 2000, as President. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on counterterrorism, intelligence and homeland security. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.