Leading foreign policy experts and Senators sent their open letters to urge President Barack Obama to stand tough against Russia. On July 1, the Foreign Policy Initiative, a newly launched think tank led by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, urged President Obama to mention human rights and democracy in Russia in the forthcoming US-Russian Summit in Moscow ("Open Letter to President Obama on Democracy and Human Rights in Russia"; Foreign Policy Initiative; July 1, 2009).
About 40 signatories demanded that Obama be true to his conviction to freedom in the world famous Prague and Cairo speeches. Policy experts who signed this letter are concerned with retreat of political and economic freedom in Russia since Vladimir Putin became the President. At the end of the letter, signatories stressed that President Obama not reset the US-Russian relationship at the expense of Russian citizens and Russia’s neighbors.
The following day, influential senators, including John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, pressured the President not to withdraw the anti-missile defense plan in the negotiation with Russia to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). They argued that interests of the United States and allies must not be sacrificed (“Letter to President Obama from Senators Inhofe, Lieberman, Kyl, Nelson, McCain, Begich, Sessions, Johanns, Wicker, and Hatch”; July 2, 2009).
Both open letters are publicized in such a critical time. Quite recently, President Obama is criticized for his inaction to blame autocrats in Iran and Honduras. Signatories of both letters urge Barack Obama to act as the President of the United States.
Both letters sound somewhat similar to what is stated in the well known message for President-then Bill Clinton on Iraq. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) criticized Clinton’s inaction against Saddam Hussein. Now, Russia has reemerged as a new threat to symbolize the failure of Clinton era diplomacy.
Both letters have insignificant implications beyond the Russian issue, but to the whole US foreign policy. What is tested is not just President Obama’s competence in foreign policy, but his devotion to American ideals.