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Obama Is the Unsung Hero in Averting War with Russia

Because McCain would have already incinerated us all

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Barack Obama did a lot to block US-Russia relations from descending into a dangerous downward spiral.

He did it years back. But it just burst upon my own awareness two weeks ago. That's when a crew from a Russian TV network came to my city to interview me on Obama's policies toward Russia.

While the camera was rolling, the conversation inevitably turned to the subject of Obama's performance in office. For the sake of transparency I admitted that I had voted for him twice. But, the interviewer asked, "What do you believe his accomplishments have been?"

That's when it finally occurred to me what Obama's most significant feat had been. I told the interviewer, "Obama kept John McCain from becoming president, and he kept Mitt Romney from becoming president."

She asked me, "Is that all?" I explained that Obama originally ran on a platform of getting the US out of wars, and with a promise to change Washington for the better. I went on to point out that he did neither. Indeed, Washington may have changed him, for the worse, I said.

Given the dangerous state of the world now in 2016, it may seem hard to appreciate anything about Obama's role in US-Russia relations. During Obama's tenure we've seen tensions between the two countries rise dangerously to levels not seen for more than two generations.

What's worse is that Obama has kept Americans in the dark over the level of danger that is present when nuclear superpowers butt heads. At least when Kennedy and Khrushchev locked horns over Soviet fortification of Cuba with menacing missiles, Americans were aware of the danger. Some had even built fallout shelters amid the long-rising tensions that boiled over into the Cuban missile crisis.

Today we see the US taking menacing actions, introducing fortifications along Russia's border. In turn, Russia seems to be bolstering its defenses. Tensions are rising. But as I write this, the big story from Obama is about his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. No matter how distasteful anyone may consider that prison, it's hard to understand Obama's priorities.

That's the kind of thing that makes it hard to give Obama credit for any accomplishment regarding US-Russia relations. But don't let it slip your mind that if it weren't for Obama we might have had a John McCain or Mitt Romney to contend with. Come to think of it, Obama should also get credit for thwarting Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations eight years ago.

If you don't understand why presidencies of those three individuals would have been more problematic than Obama's, just google each person's name together with "Russia" or "Putin." Take note of their rhetoric and imagine the directions in which those failed candidates might have taken things if they were given a chance.

So, for now, let's hear it for Barack Obama. His unsung accomplishment in keeping more dangerous people out of the White House certainly deserves recognition. Too bad he can't stand for a third term!

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