• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 4:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 5:28am

Vladimir Putin's strongman tactics make Barack Obama look weak

You can call him Vlad the bad, you can ridicule his penchant for bare-chested bravado and criticise his lack of tolerance towards any opposition. But Russian President Vladimir Putin is proving to be the top dog on the world stage as he moves in to snare Crimea.

While the main reason he cites is the protection of Russians who live in Crimea, it is not too hard to figure out Putin's main concern is losing absolute control of Russia's key naval base there. Though its lease is valid until 2042, it is not very helpful if the country is under a government that is more friendly to the West than Moscow.

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet empire, the United States has shaped world events. What Washington wanted, it got. But Putin has been slowly chipping away at this.

First he thumbed his nose at Washington by refusing to hand over former defence contractor Edward Snowden. Then he outmanoeuvred President Barack Obama as the Syrian crisis reached a critical point and let President Bashar al-Assad off the hook by forging a deal on Syrian chemical weapons.

Now with Ukraine, the Russian strongman is again flexing his muscles, and raising his approval ratings at home to a new high. European nations are not on the same page as the US on their approach to Putin. China and Japan have kept Putin in good humour with both Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe turning up in Sochi for the Winter Olympics.

Putin's rising stature may also shape how Obama's legacy is viewed in future, unless the pieces on the chessboard change dramatically. With less than three years to go in his presidency, Obama runs the risk being labelled one of the weakest presidents the country has had in years.

That could become a factor in 2016 when the US picks its next president. For a divided Republican Party, it gives an opportunity to come together on a platform that demands a strong leader like Ronald Reagan who can regain the lost status of the US. No wonder Hillary Clinton, the undeclared presidential candidate, has now become the toughest critic of Putin in the Democratic Party, likening his actions in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler.

Putin, it seems, is not influencing Ukraine's future alone.

Alex Lo is on leave


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Ah, I see that Mr. Kumar has been pirating Fox News again.
What a stupid commentary.
Yep, agree..............Obama has always been a wimp.........just someone with eloquent words but only a talker and never a doer of anything meaningful.
John Adams
Well spoken !
Obama is indeed a wimp
President Obama weak? Maybe it's a question of perspective. President Putin plays really hard for "Team Russia," but President Obama does not play too hard for "Team USA." Why? It is a matter of ideology -- President Obama is at best impartial as among the world's major civilizations; at worst he favors the Muslim world, about which he frequently speaks. Earlier USA Presidents were leaders of the free world, i.e. they were champions of Western civilization. Not so Barack Obama who sees his task as righting wrongs that he believes the West did to other parts of the world, as explained at:
President Obama masks his peculiar foreign policy from the American people with Rambo-style tactics like killing Osama bin Laden and the continuing drone strikes against Al-Qaeda and other selected terrorists. But, Vladimir Putin is now effectively exposing the sheer emptiness of President Obama's foreign policy. If so, can Xi Jinping and Li Kejiang be far behind?
Formerly ******
Liechtenstein makes Obama look weak.
Obama is weak. We knew that. Putin knows it. Xi knows it. But as Carter begat Reagan, there is hope.
Obama? What did the world expect from a community organizer or a KGB agent? Leaders sadly v have not Another Deng would do the world good.
We will miss the wimp
deliberative hamlet seems preferable to the restless shrew
on its gyration downward
us will be flying over the cuckoo’s nest
“We are victims of a matriarchy here.”
Her hairdo
poor Bill, her hairdo
Jerome Slater
What is happening to USA dominance around the world. I can see that goes for the European Union too? The West is going to propose sanctions to stop Putin? Did Iran go under after all these years?
Avast there, me hardies. Pirates on Fox News.




SCMP.com Account