This Is What Putin Learned From Obama

Vladimir Putin’s recent takeover of Crimea may be just the beginning of twenty-first century expansion tactics.  It’s conquering by stealth, done quietly, without gunfire and violence.  In plain words, if you want to march into a country or seize power, just do it.

Observers may wonder whether Putin learned this tactic from Obama.  After all, Obama’s political party, the Democratic Party of the United States, has used stealth tactics for the last 50 years or more.

There are several characteristics Putin’s expansion has in common with the Democratic Party’s expansion.  The major characteristic is that it is done quietly, without fanfare.

The Democratic Party has used this strategy in domestic policy.  When the major cities of the nation, controlled by Democrats, began to lose population, they took over the Congress’s power of naturalization and began to issue policies and pass laws to promote illegal immigration.  Chicago, Barack Obama’s political alma mater, has had an official Sanctuary Policy since 1985; and since 1990, the illegal immigrant population of the U.S. has exploded.

And what Obama just did involves a number of unprecedented actions, which have violated legislative protocol and the U.S. Constitution.  For example, he allowed his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to refuse to answer questions before the Issa Committee.  Holder was subsequently held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions and turn over officially requested documents.  After disrespecting Congressional protocol, there were no serious repercussions; so it appears that President Obama’s advice to Eric Holder can be seen as another example of his policy to just do it.

Under President Obama’s watch, the Tea Party and other potentially troublesome political groups had their non-profit status delayed.  This was done by Obama IRS employee Lois Lerner.  Lerner then abused the protocol surrounding the use of the Fifth Amendment in Congressional Hearings.  She read a statement declaring her ignorance of the matter and innocence, and then pleaded the Fifth Amendment.  No doubt Eric Holder’s advice to her was to not worry about consequences; “just do it.”

President Obama’s other big move against his political enemies was in regard to seizing the Congress’s power of the purse.  For four years, he enlisted the cooperation of Senate Leader Harry Reid; and Reid refused to vote on a budget.  This gave President Obama the sole authority to spend money, something he does not have under the U.S. Constitution.  No one stopped him.  He just did it.

The difference between Obama and Reagan is that Obama is very aggressive at seizing the legislative power of Congress and using the IRS to stifle the campaigns of his political adversaries, while Reagan compromised with Tip O’Neill and the Democrat-controlled Congress to achieve his domestic policy.  Reagan’s aggression was used to pursue foreign policy, Obama’s to pursue domestic initiatives.

Putin may have first perceived Obama’s just-do-it political strategy as a sign of aggressiveness, and wondered if he would be as aggressive toward foreign nations as Reagan.  But after looking at Obama’s foreign actions, Putin may have quickly realized that Obama is the opposite with regard to foreign relations: that unlike Reagan, he will not intercede.  The tipping point may have been Obama’s flight from action after his “red line” threat delivered to Syria, his reluctance to save the four victims of the Benghazi attack, and the proposed Defense Dept. cutbacks.

When Secretary of State John Kerry remarked that invasions are no longer part of twenty-first century politics, that position was a curious contradiction to Obama’s domestic politics, which reflect the racial equality principles of the 1960s. Obama is very comfortable with maintaining twentieth century political perspectives—Republicans can go to the back of the bus– toward domestic politics, but not foreign.  No doubt Putin has noticed this as well.

It is interesting to point out that when the Soviet Union last held Crimea, President Ronald Reagan pressured them into giving it up.  Official KGB archives reveal that the Soviets thought Reagan was some kind of nut.  The KGB genuinely felt that Reagan was about to initiate a nuclear first strike.

Putin served in the KGB and must remember how the Soviet concern for Reagan’s threats motivated “the largest intelligence operation in Soviet history,”1 which sought to “uncover the West’s nuclear plot”2.   Their concern was motivated by Reagan’s strong anti-Soviet rhetoric conveyed through his Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative .

It’s also difficult to see how Putin thinks Obama worries over the suffering that may occur in Russia under his program of economic sanctions.  After all, under Obama’s watch, America’s unemployed population has skyrocketed, the welfare and food stamp rolls have climbed to unprecedented heights, and the median income of Americans has dropped to that of 1996. All of these signals teach Putin that Obama has no qualms about making the working class and poor suffer.

It would be difficult, then, for Putin to believe that President Obama expects him to fret about the economic consequences of Obama’s sanctions.

Reagan once called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”  Subsequently, in 1989 at the end of Reagan’s second term, the Soviet Union released Crimea from its political control.   But now, Obama, through his weakness and attitude of ignoring protocol, the law, and the U.S. Constitution; has provided a precedent to Putin on how to achieve a political goal: just do it.

In the final analysis, Obama’s own policy of expanding political power by just seizing it may have been the strongest signal picked up by Vladimir Putin.  Putin is obviously very comfortable with the idea that the seizures of Crimea and Ukraine only require a pen and a phone.



1. Page 2.

2. Id.

Andrews, C. and Gordievsky, O. (1990).  KGB: The inside story of its foreign relations from Lenin to Gorbachev. New York: Harper Collins.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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