I can only presume that this remark by Fred Hiatt at the Washington Post is intended as humor:
Even the now-ridiculed “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations was worth a try; no one knew for sure whether then-president Dmitry Medvedev might offer a viable alternative to Putinism.
Everyone knew. Except possibly Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Putin and his policies are unpopular in Russia. He is significantly more popular there than President Obama is here. His actions in Ukraine have made him more popular.
On the meat of his column I both agree and disagree with Mr. Hiatt’s column. I agree with this:
There was no viable military option that could have discouraged Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and there is no military option to reverse it.
and I disagree with this:
The president came into office believing that military assets were a 19th-century measure of power, of dwindling relevance in the 21st century. He believed that diplomacy could solve problems that George W. Bush had ignored, created or exacerbated; that the eventual abolition of nuclear weapons was perhaps the United States’ most important goal; that economic reconstruction at home had to take precedence over — and was a necessary prerequisite for — leadership abroad.
I think that President Obama believed that foreign leaders hated George Bush for the same reason that he did—because he was George Bush—rather than because he was president of the United States.
In the end I think that barring some catastrophe the idea that President Obama will reconsider his foreign policy as Mr. Hiatt suggests is far-fetched. I think he has entered the consolidation phase of his presidency rather than a reconsideration phase.