“Obama Should Go to Sochi,” Says Pat Buchanan; Other U.S. Conservatives Also Call for U.S.-Russia Cooperation

Asking how friends of Russia should respond to the terrorist attacks in Volgograd, columnist Pat Buchanan answers with the following proposal:

“President Obama, in a gesture of solidarity with the Russian people, who have suffered more than any European people from Islamic terror since 9/11, should announce he has changed his mind and will be going to Sochi. The impact would be dramatic. The Western boycott of the winter Olympics would collapse. The attention of the world’s TV cameras, along with the rest of mankind, would turn to Sochi. Success of the games would be assured.”

Rejecting those calling for a boycott and for “snubbing” Putin, Buchanan says in his Town Hall column on Friday, that U.S. relations with Russia are too serious to be blocked by petty quarrels. He cites Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, JFK, and Reagan as having reached out to Russia and the Soviet Union despite much more serious disagreements. As for Putin, Buchanan says: “Putin approved NATO strikes on Libya. He has gone along with U.N. sanctions on Iran. He has held off sending Russia’s most advanced air defense system to Iran. He has assisted the United States in the war in Afghanistan. He pulled Obama’s bacon out of the fire in Syria when the American people and Congress told Obama that, red line or no red line, he had no authority to bomb Syria. We are now working with Russia on Syria’s chemical weapons. And her cooperation is crucial in handling North Korea and negotiating a deal to keep Iran away from a nuclear bomb.”

Russia is part of our civilization, Buchanan says, noting that we in the U.S. bear much of the responsibility for the fact that the Russian people no longer view American as their friend. “Obama going to Sochi would turn a page, start a new chapter.”

Reflecting an obvious pattern, other conservatives are also calling for cooperation with Russia around the terrorist threats:

* Former Fox News host Rachel Marsden has a column entitled “U.S., Russia Can Go for Olympic Gold in War on Terror,” published in The Tennessean, in which she notes that in early September, she had written that Russia and the West could team up against the forces of radical Islam, but that now, “It looks set to happen sooner than expected” because of the current wave of Islamic terrorist attacks. Putin should “go for the gold in the anti-terrorism pentathalon,” Marsden writes, noting that “This confluence of events—the Syrian conflict, the Sochi Olympics and ongoing Islamic terrorism—puts Russia in position to take charge.” She concludes: “Only through adequate intelligence and security measures can radical Islamic terrorists be denied the chance to make their mark on one of the largest world stages. It seems as if humanity could only benefit from some Russian-American cooperation—in the spirit of the Games and international sportsmanship, of course.”

* Dov Zakheim, who served in high-level Pentagon positions in the Reagan and George W. Bush Administrations, has a column “Washington and Moscow: Brothers in Arms?” published Friday in The National Interest. “Washington’s announcement that it stands ready to assist Russia with security for the Sochi Olympics offers both countries an opportunity to expand beyond their cooperation in combating terrorism, despite the awkward reality of Edward Snowden’s self-imposed exile in Russia,” Zakheim writes, noting that the U.S. and Russia are already conducting joint anti-terrorism training missions and exercises. After describing the threats emanating from Chechnya and Dagestan, and the leading Chechen role within the Syrian opposition, Zakheim acknowledges that “the Russians have proved to have been correct when they asserted over two years ago that the Syrian opposition would be dominated by extremists.” So now, he continues, with Obama’s hesitancy to exert power in the Middle East, there is “much to recommend in increasing counterterrorism coordination with Moscow not only with regard to the Winter Olympics, but also in seeking to diminish even further the threat of Sunni radicalism throughout the Middle East, including, and indeed especially, in Syria.” And furthermore, “there is much to be said for the administration’s cooperating with Russia on matters that go beyond counterterrorism.”

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