Sten Hankewitz: Obama’s visit to Estonia doesn’t mean diddly

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Dear Estonians, I have some bad news for you. Looking at your euphoria over the visit of President Barack Obama to Estonia in September, I have something to tell you: it doesn’t really mean anything. So you may just as well sit back, relax, and pray the traffic chaos Obama brings along won’t affect you.

Admitted, the euphoria by Estonia’s politicians is understandable. They actually have to say that Obama’s visit strengthens the ties between the two countries or reaffirms America’s commitment to Estonia and NATO and the collective defence article. Otherwise they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.

Russia does what it pleases

But when one sees the Average Joe jumping for joy over Obama’s visit, it’s almost funny – if not tragicomical. And when a journalist speculates over whether the president’s visit could be more than a political gesture (Delfi, 14 August), I can only counter-speculate that the journalist is either deliberately trying to mislead people or hasn’t been really following Obama’s governing pattern for the last five and a half years.

Let’s roll back for a moment to the time before Obama’s reelection in 2012. In March of that year, Obama said to the then-Russian president Dmitri Medvedev the words that should have made everyone extremely cautious: “This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility.” The events that have ensued since speak for themselves:

  • Russia has occupied the Crimean peninsula
  • Russia is de facto controlling Eastern Ukraine
  • Russian-backed terrorists have shot down a civilian aircraft, murdering 300 innocent people
  • Russia is sending tanks and artillery to the separatists, effectively invading Ukraine

Keeping up appearances

One might, of course, ask me, “What the hell are you talking about? What about the US sanctions on Russia?”

Okay. Let’s look at the facts again.

Flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on 17 July. Within days it was certain the culprits were Russian-backed terrorists, and the weapons they used had been brought on Ukrainian soil from the Russian Federation. But when did Obama finally impose sanctions? Over two weeks later, on 29 July, and even then he managed to almost apologetically utter to the media, “It’s not a new Cold War.”

That’s all there is to it – keeping up appearances. Because, let’s be honest, the weak sanctions on Russia haven’t really accomplished anything – the state of events in Ukraine is now even worse. Only last week, the Russian authorities sent a “humanitarian convoy” – escorted by attack helicopters – into Ukraine; at the same time the Ukrainian military engaged a separate Russian armored column that had entered Ukraine. Even Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of NATO, confirmed that Russia was continuing to supply the pro-Moscow terrorists with “a continuous flow of weapons and fighters”.

Obama doesn’t have allies

But one of the biggest deceptions by the Obama administration is the illusion some people still have that Obama is supposedly their staunch ally. On what, exactly, are people basing this illusion?

On the fact that another ally of the United States – Israel – is frequently told by administration officials, including President Obama himself, how it shouldn’t defend itself against Hamas terrorists and instead quietly go into the night?

On the fact that Iraq, a country the US committed to help, has been all but neglected – or at least thousands of people have been allowed to be murdered before the Obama administration approved air strikes against the Islamic terrorists of ISIS?

Or, perhaps on the fact that even at home, Obama is playing golf rather than dealing with riots in Ferguson, MO?

The sad fact is, President Obama doesn’t have allies. He has popularity ratings, and not necessarily the ones given by the American people – rather by useful idiots all over the world who are still under the impression that Obama is the messiah who will fix the world, without seeing that during Obama’s reign, the world has started to crumble from every corner and soon enough there may not be much left to fix.

All things considered, it is quite naïve to hope that Obama’s visit to Estonia is anything more than a simple political gesture, designed to boost his approval ratings among Eastern Europeans. Let’s be honest, he would much rather be vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard than taking a long and exhausting cross-Atlantic flight to meet people he doesn’t give a hoot about.

I

Cover photo: President Barack Obama meets with Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

The opinions in this article are those of the author.

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at sten@estonianworld.com.