President Barack Obama held his final press conference as President of the United States this past week, and we thought we’d bring it to you for the sake of posterity. We should enjoy this final press conference for what it means to us all – in just over 30 days, Barack Obama will be a former President of the United States and the Obama era will thankfully be over. In his last press conference he covered a lot of important points that are causing turmoil in the media, he touched on Russia, Syria, and Trump, among many other topics.
Perhaps the most interesting moment came during the first question when President Obama said that Russia was successful because they don’t “go around announcing what they’re doing.” Apparently, the President doesn’t recognize the irony in this statement, but I do. One of the things the Obama administration has enjoyed doing over the last eight years is constantly announcing what they “plan to do” in any given situation. The only problem? It allows our enemies time to prepare. Whether drawing “red lines” in Syria, or announcing our plans to take on ISIS and Al Qaeda, or even talking about how we’ll move forward against Russia, the Obama administration is constantly telegraphing our next moves long before we ever actually take them.
It’s almost as if the Obama administration didn’t realize that our enemies also had access to cable television and the Internet. However, what makes this all the worse is that Obama realizes that it is one reason Putin and Russia are successful, without realizing the converse that it is one reason his foreign policy has been so unsuccessful.
Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia, or others, not to do this to us because we can do stuff to you.
But it is also important for us to do that in a thoughtful, methodical way. Some of it we do publicly. Some of it we will do in a way that they know, but not everybody will. And I know there have been folks out there that suggest somehow, if we went out there and made big announcements and thumped our chests about a bunch of stuff, that somehow that would potentially spook the Russians.
But keep in mind that we already have enormous numbers of sanctions against the Russians. The relationship between us and Russia has deteriorated, sadly, significantly over the last several years. And so, how we approach an appropriate response that increases costs for them for behavior like this in the future, but does not create problems for us, is something that’s worth taking the time to think through and figure out.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
So at a point in time where we’ve taken certain actions that we can divulge publicly we will do so. There are times where the message will be directly received by the Russians, and not publicized.
I should point out, by the way, part of why the Russians have been effective on this is because they don’t go around announcing what they’re doing.
It’s not like Putin’s gone around the world publicly saying: ‘Look what we did. Wasn’t that clever?’
He denies it. So the idea that somehow public shaming is going to be effective, I think, doesn’t read the thought process in Russia very well.
(The pertinent part begins at around 8:30 into the video.)
Make sure to watch the entire press conference or just read the transcript here.