September 17, 2013
President Obama's whispers to Russia's then-President Dmitri Medvedev were picked up on a hot mic. "This is my last election," the president confided to the Russian under his breath, "after my election, I'll have more flexibility." ABC's Jake Tapper reported that exchange in March, 2012, at a G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
It remains one of the most shocking incidents in the history of U.S.-Russian relations. Medvedev quickly chimed in to say: "I understand." And he promised to carry the president's words to Russia's real strong man, Vladimir Putin.
What President Obama calls "flexibility" soon translated into flaccidity. The Russians have always been sensitive to weakness in their opponents. Nikita Khrushchev bullied the young, inexperienced Jack Kennedy at Geneva, in 1961. Kennedy would later tell associates, candidly, that Khrushchev "beat the hell out of me." Seizing the initiative, Khrushchev soon erected the Berlin Wall and took the alarming step of placing Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) in Cuba. Kennedy had to bring America and the world to the brink of nuclear war to re-establish American leadership.
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