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The unsettling origins of Obama's worldview

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By Paul Kengor
Saturday, April 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Ukrainian officials report that Russia is amassing upward of 80,000 troops along their border. The situation is grim — and not just for Ukraine.

The neighboring countries around Ukraine are extremely concerned, terrified that an ex-KGB lieutenant colonel named Vladimir Putin fancies himself a modern Vlad the Great who will expand the motherland to something approaching the grand old Soviet days. The Estonians are worried. The Latvians are worried. The Poles are worried.

“Professor, do you think Poland is next?” I was asked by a Polish journalist. Poles fear not only a Putin invasion; they fear Barack Obama will not lift a finger to help. They've been appalled by our president ever since he canceled plans for a U.S. missile shield with Poland and the Czech Republic on Sept. 17, 2009.

That date is burned into Poles' memories. It was the 70th anniversary of the day that Stalin's Red Army invaded Poland. That Obama canceled the missile shield on that date was viewed by Poles as the ultimate slap, especially given that he did so to accommodate Russia. The Poles have a long, painful history of watching the West accommodate Russia at their expense, beginning at Yalta.

Poles view Obama as a weak leader whom the Russians realize they can roll right over — which brings me back to Ukraine.

Ukraine is a victim of Vladimir Putin's aggression. At the same time, Barack Obama cannot escape criticism. Obama has bent over backward to please the Russians. This is no surprise. He's a product of people who were enamored with Russia.

Obama's mother and father met in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii in the fall of 1960. They wanted to learn the language, not to join the intelligence community to help defeat the Ruskies, but because they were smitten with communist Russia. Barack Obama was literally conceived by parents drawn together by a mutual fondness for Russia.

Likewise infatuated was Obama's mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, who joined Communist Party USA under Stalin. “I pledge myself to rally the masses to defend the Soviet Union, the land of victorious socialism,” declared Davis and other CPUSA members in the loyalty oath they swore. They pledged themselves to “insure the triumph of Soviet Power in the United States.”

Writing for The Chicago Star, the communist organ of which he was the founding editor-in-chief, Davis stated: “I admire Russia for wiping out an economic system which permitted a handful of rich to exploit and beat gold from the millions of plain people. ... I honor the Red nation. ... I salute the Soviet Union.”

He sure did. He also spent many late-night hours with a young Barack Obama.

These were the people who raised Obama. They would have told him the Russians should be trusted, more so than the United States.

Here I'm reminded of a very different worldview toward the Russians. “(W)e had to bargain with them from strength, not weakness,” said another president, Ronald Reagan. “If you were going to approach the Russians with a dove of peace in one hand, you had to have a sword in the other.”

Barack Obama approached Vladimir Putin with a dove in one hand and a bouquet of roses in the other — and with plenty of promised “flexibility.” The Russians smiled. They knew this was a president they could exploit.

Reagan understood the Russians. Obama does not. And if you think that doesn't matter, just look at the differences on the ground.

Reagan noted that the Russians didn't gain “one inch of ground” while he was president. Indeed they did not — and after they had picked up nearly a dozen satellite states in the years before Reagan was elected. Today, the foes of freedom are gaining around the world.

Is it fair to blame our current president for at least some of that lost ground? You bet it is.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His latest book is “11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.” His other books include “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor.”

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