CBS: Obama Repairing U.S.-Russia Relations Wrecked By Bush

Lara Logan, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan reported on the Obama administration’s effort to improve relations between the United States and Russia by abandoning a missile defense system proposed under the Bush administration: "It's become one of the most contentious issues dividing the U.S. and Russia. American plans to deploy a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep...The Obama administration's willingness to even open discussions on the issue is a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy under President Bush, who dismissed Russian objections. That dispute helped bring U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the break-up of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago. Today the President made it clear he's already started to change that."

Rather than offer any criticism, Logan cited Steven Pifer of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, who declared: "It seems to me that when we're looking for issues on which we can signal to the Russians that we're prepared to be more flexible and listen to some of their concerns, missile defense is one." At the top of the broadcast, anchor Katie Couric teased the segment by describing Obama’s proposal as an "intriguing suggestion."

In her report, Logan argued that, "Better relations with Russia matter because Russia can be very helpful on a range of problems, like Afghanistan, that are high up on the Obama agenda." She went on to suggest that such a deal would also lead to greater Russian cooperation on confronting Iran: "Washington has long wanted to take a harder line against Iran and clearly the Obama administration feels the most effective way to do that is with a united front that includes Russia." It’s strange that Logan suggested that Obama, who said he would sit down and talk with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, now wants to take a "harder line against Iran."

At the end of the report, Couric wondered why the Russian government publicized Obama’s private letter to the Russian President proposing the deal. Logan responded: "Well, this is all about the Russian people and sending a message that the Russian government wants to do business with the U.S. again. For the last few years they have demonized the U.S. and now they're preparing their people for a change, for the possibility that this could be a new era of friendlier relations with the U.S., Katie."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

6:30PM TEASE:

KATIE COURIC: Also tonight, the President says it's time to reboot relations with Moscow. The intriguing suggestion he made in a private letter to Russia's president.

6:37PM SEGMENT:

KATIE COURIC: President Obama has focused most of his attention on the economic crisis, but today he signaled it's time for a new beginning with Russia. In a private letter he's offered his Russian counterpart an incentive for ending a long-running dispute. Here's our chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan.

LARA LOGAN: It's become one of the most contentious issues dividing the U.S. and Russia. American plans to deploy a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep. Today President Obama signaled that missile defenses might not be necessary if Russia helps to block Iran's pursuit of nuclear war heads and ballistic missiles.

BARACK OBAMA: To the extent that we are lessening Iran's commitment to nuclear weapons, then that reduces the pressure for, or the need for, a missile defense system.

LOGAN: Moscow regards the missile system as a threat, but the U.S. has always insisted it's aimed at Iran not Russia. The Obama administration's willingness to even open discussions on the issue is a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy under President Bush, who dismissed Russian objections. That dispute helped bring U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the break-up of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago. Today the President made it clear he's already started to change that.

OBAMA: I've said that we need to reset or reboot the relationship there.

LOGAN: Better relations with Russia matter because Russia can be very helpful on a range of problems, like Afghanistan, that are high up on the Obama agenda.

STEVEN PIFER [BROOKINGS INSTITUTION]: It seems to me that when we're looking for issues on which we can signal to the Russians that we're prepared to be more flexible and listen to some of their concerns, missile defense is one.

LOGAN: Washington has long wanted to take a harder line against Iran and clearly the Obama administration feels the most effective way to do that is with a united front that includes Russia, Katie.

COURIC: And Lara, what do you think motivated the Russians to make this letter public in the first place?

LOGAN: Well, this is all about the Russian people and sending a message that the Russian government wants to do business with the U.S. again. For the last few years they have demonized the U.S. and now they're preparing their people for a change, for the possibility that this could be a new era of friendlier relations with the U.S., Katie.

COURIC: Alright, Lara Logan in Washington. Lara, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC