New Doug Schoen Book Blasts Obama’s Failure to Confront Putin
The rise President Vladimir Putin’s Russia over the last eight years is sure to be one of the enduring legacies of President Barack Obama.
In their new book, Democratic campaign consultant Doug Schoen and co-author Evan Roth Smith make the case that Putin has a strategy to “destroy Europe, divide NATO, and build a new empire in the former Soviet Union.”
The authors illuminate Putin’s strategy, and eviscerate President Obama for his inability to notice the Russian leader’s ongoing transformation of Europe and the Middle East. They present a compelling and urgent case.
“How could President Obama, not to mention secretaries of state John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, have been so naïve?” the authors write in “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”
This power-packed, 200-page book is must reading for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy. The authors lay out an analysis of the past eight years of Putin’s rise while critiquing the response not only of the United States but also of Europe.
The authors avoid the tendency of foreign policy books to recycle current events and to just add commentary. Instead, Schoen and Smith seek to educate the reader on the larger issues missed by current political writers who tend to focus on personalities rather than documented, factual accounts.
On North Korea, for instance, the authors write “Since Putin became president in 2000, Russia and China have provided North Korea with $17 billion in aid and $10 billion in debt forgiveness. The total assistance of $27 billion is two-and-a-half times the GDP ($11 billion) of the North Korea economy.”
And on the six-year-long Syrian civil war, they succinctly highlight Putin’s strategy while making clear his motives: “By arming Assad and aggressively deploying Russia’s own forces, Putin has prolonged the Syrian conflict, made it considerably bloodier, and driven millions of refugees into Europe.
“Europe’s struggle to deal with the social, political, and security ramifications of the mass Muslim migration has not only distracted the world from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but also strengthened Putin’s hand against an increasingly fractured European community — and further weakened the EU as an institutional force.”
The surprise for the reader is that the main author is a Democrat. Therefore, the book isn’t an obligatory partisan critique of the other party’s leader. In fact, Schoen and Smith bluntly admit “one need not be an advocate of an assertive American foreign policy, as the authors are, to see that this is a crisis of American national security.”
Schoen and Smith lay out a clear and devastating account of President Obama’s failure to understand the geo-political shifts Putin appears to be successfully orchestrating.
They also highlight Obama’s foreign-policy setbacks across the globe, ranging from Syria and the Middle East to China and North Korea.
Putin’s Master Plan takes the reader through the West’s relationship with Russia, the struggles of NATO, Putin’s disinformation campaign, how the Russians use oil and gas as a weapon, and the growing concerns of Eastern European leaders.
The book dives into Russia’s work in the well-publicized crises of Crimea and Ukraine, but also in lower-profile regions like Estonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Central Asia.
Current events indicate the authors are on to something. News that Turkish President Recep Erdogan is looking to Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance is a sure sign that the break-up of NATO is a real and timely issue for the West.
Putin’s current buildup of military hardware along the Ukrainian border signals serious trouble for Western allies Poland, Georgia, and Moldova, to name just a few. The Russian president has successfully used propaganda, natural gas, intimidation, money laundering, military hardware, corruption, and his opponents’ weaknesses to chip away at the West’s influence throughout Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.
The authors’ frank, no-holds-barred critique of timorous U.S. and European leaders distinguishes this book from the tepid assessments of other U.S. foreign policy experts. They depict a Europe in the throes of serious domestic immigration issues while the West engages in hand-wringing over how to confront a rising Putin.
The book makes the case that U.S. President Barack Obama is the most feckless of all world leaders. The overwhelming evidence from Schoen and Smith reflect a growing, bipartisan consensus that Obama has failed.
“While America stands idle,” they write, “the Russians have been shaping the outcome in Syria for years, battling furiously to keep Bashar al-Assad in power — an effort in which they work closely with Iran and proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”
But the authors don’t just criticize; they offer some solutions, too.
“In the short term,” they write, “we can send a clear message by deploying additional bomber-borne nuclear weapons in NATO countries that agree to host them. Since the Russians have already violated the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, we should scrap it and deploy land-based nuclear missiles.”
Today it seems clear that President Putin is pleased with the Brexit vote and Europe’s shrinkage. Reports indicate he is closely watching the U.S. presidential race, and is working to influence this fall’s parliamentary elections in Montenegro, Macedonia, Georgia, Croatia, Romania, and Moldova. With much of the world distracted by its own domestic politics, Russia is calculating how best to continue its offense undeterred by the West and President Obama.
Unfortunately, Schoen and Smith elected not to offer any assessment of how Putin views the current U.S. presidential campaigns. Admittedly, critiquing the current candidates in light of the aggressive Russian challenge would have shifted the focus of the book a bit.
But an analysis of whether the former KGB colonel has any concern that he might be confronted by either of the candidates vying to become the next president of the United States would have been well worth the effort.
That said, Putin’s Master Plan is both timely and illuminating. If you’re at all curious about the dangerous moves Putin has been making on the global chessboard while President Obama was busy calibrating his legacy, this is a book you need to get.