The president had three options. He picked the least effective of the three.
As a response to Putin’s granting of asylum to US traitor Edward Snowden, either of Obama’s two other options would have been more effective. He could have gone ahead with the summit with Putin; using the occasion to underscore the differences between the two nations and spotlighting America’s demands for Putin to back away from his crackdown on the Russian population. Had Obama met with Putin and presented the US position in clear and unequivocal terms, he would then have had an ideal opportunity during the press conference that inevitably follows these summits to present to the world’s press what should be the firm and unyielding American position.
Instead, by cancelling his meeting with the Russian despot, he deprives himself of the the opportunity to once again reiterate in clear terms America’s position, and worse, presents Putin with the chance to mock Obama and the US in his words and by his subsequent actions; underscoring once again the USA’s ineffectiveness as leader of the free world.
Obama’s best option would have been to meet with Putin in the one-on-one, but absent himself from the upcoming G20 meeting being hosted by the Russian. By boycotting the larger meeting, Obama de-legitimizes Putin’s standing, not only to the world, but also to the Russian people, by depriving him of the chance to showcase his position as a putative world leader capable of hosting a summit of the world’s leading countries, with the president of the planet’s only remaining superpower as the crown jewel of the assembly.
All presidents have advisors; no president can possibly be the sole decision maker for the multiplicity of issues, great and small, which require his attention, and usually, his response. Historically, presidential advisors have varied widely; some are great, others recede into the dimness of history without a ripple. Often, the most influential presidential staffers and advisers are referred to by the media as a “kitchen cabinet.” During the Obama administration, the media have delighted in referring to the president’s advisors and especially his cabinet appointees, as “czars.”
Whatever they may be called, In light of how Mr. Obama’s foreign policy record shapes up thus far, he would be well advised to re-examine his reliance on Valerie Jarrett and others in his closest circle. Obama’s closest confidant, Ms Jarrett in particular is lamentably as inexperienced in foreign affairs as the president himself.
From Benghazi to Egypt to the remarkable faux pas of assuring outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in front of an open microphone that he would have “more flexibility”to deal with Russia after his re-election, and now this missed opportunity, the president has single handedly degraded America’s standing in the eyes of the world for years.