Press Morphs Obama's 'Regional Power' Assertion About Russia Into an Insult to Putin; It Wasn't Delivered That Way

March 25th, 2014 11:46 PM

At President Barack Obama's press conference in The Hague, Netherlands today, as part of a much longer question, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Obama whether "Mitt Romney had a point when he said that Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe? If not Russia, who?"

It's important to note that Obama's response to that portion of Karl's question pertained to and was directed at Romney. A video containing Karl's question and Obama's answer ("With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia’s our number- one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that, you know, America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors -- not out of strength, but out of weakness") shows that the President's tone at that point was generally calm with a bit of a defiant edge which seemed directed at Romney and Karl (perhaps not in that order). That didn't stop the establishment press from claiming that Obama's statement was really an insult directed at Russia (it wasn't) and that the President supposedly directed his "derisive" statement towards Russian President Vladimir Putin (he didn't).


What's left is Obama's dry, non-derisive assessment of Russia as a "regional power." Well, maybe if your "region" is about one-third of the world above the equator.

Here are some examples of how the press pretended that what was really a limp response about Romney was really an insult directed at Putin:

(Associated Press, Julie Pace)


... Obama took aim at Romney's assertion again Tuesday, using the opportunity to derisively cast Russia as little more than a "regional power" that threatens its allies, but not the U.S. The pointed comment appeared to take aim at what Western officials see as Putin's insecurity over Russia's standing in the world.

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors - not out of strength, but out of weakness," Obama said. Still, he added that "it would be dishonest to suggest there is a simple solution to what has already taken place in Crimea," where Russian troops are in control.

In other words, this pathetic "regional power" got its way and the world can't do anything about it, but not to worry. Zheesh.

(Washington Post, Scott Wilson)

Obama dismisses Russia as ‘regional power’ acting out of weakness

President Obama acknowledged Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea would be difficult to reverse, but he dismissed Russia as a “regional power” that did not pose a leading security threat to the United States.

Concluding a summit here on nuclear security, Obama also warned that broader Russian military intervention in neighboring countries would trigger further economic sanctions that would disrupt the global economy but hit Russia the hardest.

So the more territory they take, the more sanctions they'll suffer. I can see Vlad saying, "Hey, I'll take that deal!"

(Reuters, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason)

Obama, in dig at Putin, calls Russia 'regional power'

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called Russia a "regional power" that had seized part of Ukraine out of weakness rather than strength, in a dig at President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has tried to rebuild Russia's prestige since the collapse of the Soviet Union and project Moscow as a strong player on the international stage.

Obama, who has had a cool relationship with Putin since he regained the presidency, dismissed that role during a news conference after a nuclear summit in the Netherlands that has been overshadowed by Russia's annexation of Crimea.

As to the idea that Russia is a "regional power," the following points should be made.

Russia is still the largest country in the world by land mass, and from east to west the Russian Federation stretches over nine time zones and two regions, er, continents. It is ninth in the world in population and sixth in annual gross domestic product.

Russia's active military is the world's fourth-largest.

That's not the profile of a "regional power."

If Obama had intended to deliver an insult, his tone would have been different. Since it wasn't, we're left assuming that he was directing a passive-aggressive response to Romney — unless one wants to believe that Mr. "57 States" really doesn't know how big Russia is. The press would be openly mocking a Republican or conservative president if he or she made the "regional power" statement Obama made today.

Finally, in an apparent indication that Obama would rather risk shaking Americans up than name this country's real number one enemy — radical Islam — Obama said that "I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan."

Cross-posted at