Friday, October 7, 2016

They smell weakness - today's edition

If their buzzing of our planes, the annexation of Crimea, the savage bombing campaign it is currently waging in Syria, and the sale of anti-aircraft batteries to Iran weren't enough to convince you of a sea change in Russia's official attitude toward post-America, perhaps the message state-connected Russians are putting forth on social media will prove the tipping point:

White House press secretary Josh Earnest is used to being a political target — but not a military one. 
Moscow’s Embassy in Washington tweeted an image Wednesday juxtaposing a photo of an anti-aircraft missile system alongside — and pointed at — the White House spokesman’s face.

Speaking to reporters later that day, Earnest laughed off the tweet. “I have no idea what message they were trying to send,” he said. But the tweet's text was clear enough: It was a warning to the U.S. about its military role in Syria. “Russia will take every defensive measure necessary to protect its personnel,” it read in part.

The bellicose tweet was just the latest example of an increasingly snarky, sarcastic and even personal, Russian tone toward the U.S. “The negative pivot by Russia is palpable,” said Obama’s former ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul. Yet Kerry and President Barack Obama continue to pursue dialogue with Moscow, convinced that the only thing worse than talking through the escalating insults is not talking at all.

Even as Earnest fielded questions about the menacing tweet, the State Department’s top Russia official, Victoria Nuland, was in Moscow to discuss Ukraine. And Secretary of State John Kerry was on the phone Wednesday with his Russian counterpart, discussing Syria two days after the U.S. declared an end to formal talks with Russia aimed at establishing a cease-fire there. 

“Engagement continues,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner conceded Wednesday, insisting, to the confusion of State Department reporters, that Kerry’s informal talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are distinct from the defunct Syria cease-fire talks.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova  knows how to leave a mark:

last month, after Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, pleaded at the United Nations for the lives of civilians in besieged Aleppo, Syria, Zakharova responded with a sarcastic invitation for the American to join her on an expenses-paid trip to the country.

“Don’t be frightened. Nobody will lay a finger on you in my presence,” Zahkarova wrote on Facebook. “Unless, of course, your guys don’t again ‘mistakenly’ strike the wrong target.”

“Russia’s Zakharova Viciously Mocks America’s U.N. Ambassador,” cheered a Sputnik headline.

Behind closed doors, Obama officials say, Russian diplomats take a more sober tone. Kerry’s constant interaction with Lavrov, with whom he sometimes speaks several times a week, are “professional,” said a senior State Department official. “That doesn't mean things don’t get heated now and then, but I’ve never seen either of them let it get personal.” 

The official added that the U.S. strives not to respond in kind to Russia’s taunts. “We work very hard to be straightforward. No snark. No sarcasm. Nothing shrill. It’s beneath us, and, frankly, beneath the seriousness of the issues to fall into that sort of behavior,” said one senior State Department official.

Of course, Secretary Global-Test is in full gosh-darn-it-this-is-unhelpful mode.

This is a deep, deep level of damage and danger.


  1. Nettie has the best nose for what he thinks is the odor of weakness. He commandeered our Congress to diss our freely elected Prexy. Unprecedented and certainly never ever called for, but then again your ilk ate it up. Look what you got to swallow now.

  2. He stood up to freedom-hating, West- hating tyrant who has been endangering the West with his foreign policy from day one is what he did. Now if you Jane any interest in addressing the subject of this post, lwt's have it.