Sarah Palin has issued yet another ghost-written Facebook page note-cum-press release, predictably bashing Obama for his inability to live up to the great St. Ronnie Reagan, entitled with the statesman-like "Another 'WTF' Obama Foreign Policy Moment".
President Obama wants to give Russia our missile defense secrets because he believes that we can buy their friendship and cooperation with this taxpayer-funded gift. But giving military secrets and technologies to a rival or competitor like Russia is just plain dumb. You can’t buy off Russia. And giving them advanced military technology will not create stability. What happens if Russia gives this technology (or sells it!) to other countries like Iran or China? After all, as Woolsey points out, Russia helped Iran with its missile and nuclear programs. Or what happens if an even more hardline leader comes to power in the Kremlin?
We tried buying off the Kremlin with technologies in the 1970s. That policy was a component of “detente,” and the hope was that if we would share our technologies with them, they would become more peaceful. Things, of course, didn’t work out that way. The Kremlin took western technologies and embarked on a massive military building program. History teaches that peace comes from American military strength. And a central component of that has always been technological superiority. Why would President Obama even dream of giving this away?
I've said before that I'm not convinced that Sarah Palin knows where or how a sentence she is speaking will end until she gets there. It appears that same trait is true of her writing too. Of course, it's hard to craft sensible arguments when one doesn't know what the hell one is talking about.
From her recounting of history, Palin appears to be arguing that the United States and the West gave “technologies” during this period, and that “the Kremlin took Western technologies and embarked on a massive military building program.”
Palin’s language struck us a garbled version of this period written by her new foreign policy adviser, Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
In fact, technology imports from the United States were heavily restricted during this period.
“All sorts of restrictions remained in force on what technical equipment could be provided to [East Bloc] countries, and while I'm sure Nixon/Kissinger/Ford might have eased a few requirements here or there, it was hardly an effort to ‘buy off’ the Kremlin by ‘sharing’ militarily useful technologies,” said James Hershberg, associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University and former director of the Cold War International History Project. “The Jackson-Vanik Amendment [of 1974] imposed further limitations on economic relations even at the height of detente.”
The restrictions on technology trade were so tough that the Soviets embarked on a massive spying operation designed to obtain such goods. “It definitely was not as a result of some sort of conscious effort by Washington to ‘buy’ Soviet sympathy or cooperation,” Hershberg said.
In fact, when the French government provided the United States with information on what items the Soviets were trying to obtain, the CIA plotted to sabotage the Soviet economy through covert transfers of technology that contained hidden malfunctions. One devious bit of software sold by the CIA later triggered a huge explosion in a Siberian natural gas pipeline that could be seen from space.
Now this is a slightly more nuanced error than not grasping the historical importance of Paul Revere and I doubt very much that most Americans would be able to articulate the details of our Cold War strategizing. But if you're going to criticize the President for not understanding the historical challenges of our relationship with Russia and making the same choices as Reagan, you really ought to have your own facts straight.