If reports are true that Russia has been paying a bounty to the Taliban to kill American soldiers, this is a serious escalation of what Russia expert Edward Lucas dubbed “The New Cold War” back in 2008.
It demands a strong response, and I don’t mean a diplomatic response.
President Bush tried playing nice, then talking tough when Putin showed his true nature.
President Obama repeated this cycle, “resetting” relations despite Russia having just occupied parts of our ally Georgia, then switching gears when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Putin is a KGB guy who only understands strength.
His popularity has taken a hit, making him unpredictable. So, we need to increase deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank.
We should also hit back where it hurts.
Dictators like Putin fear their own people, and for good reason. Putin and his cronies have enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary Russians.
This week, Russia is having a referendum on waiving term limits allowing Putin to stay in power when his term is up. It will be rigged.
We should point out to the Russian people that they don’t have to accept that.