July 12th, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Spy swap was a mistake

Gene Coyle
Special to CNN
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/07/09/coyle.spy.swap/tzleft.coyle.gene.arthur.courtesy.jpg caption="Ex-CIA Russian expert says the quick spy swap will be seen as sign of U.S. weakness" width=300 height=169]

The Obama administration's rush to sweep the recent Russian spy scandal off the table as quickly as possible with this swap is a bad move on several counts.

It is understandable and correct that President Barack Obama values the overall U.S.-Russian relationship above the question of whether a few Russian spies spend years in jail.

The "reset" campaign was an excellent idea; too bad no one in our Department of State knew how to correctly spell the word in Russian when Secretary Hillary Clinton presented the "button" to the Russian Foreign Minister. However, there is a line between seeking a mutually beneficial relationship and delusional pandering.

The history of U.S.-Russian relations shows that dealing respectfully but firmly is what works best. Most importantly, Moscow only agrees to anything that it perceives to be at least 50 percent in its self-interest, not because we've been nice guys. The only thing releasing all of these deep-cover Russian intelligence officers within a matter of days is going to teach Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, an old KGB officer, is that Obama is a pushover - overly focused on making sure not to offend Russia.

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Filed under: Russian Spies
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