Derailing the Reset?

Peter Baker at the New York Times picks up on the threat posed to the Obama Administration’s warming relations with Russia as a result of the elections this week.

If he fails to win approval before the old Senate adjourns, Mr. Obama’s advisers and allies worry that the relationship with Russia will be frozen at a time when they consider it critical to increase Russian cooperation on several fronts, most notably pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“If that goes down, everything else is on ice,” said Samuel Charap, an analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. Cooperation on Iran, nonproliferation, Afghanistan and terrorism could be affected, he said. “None of that, zero, is going to happen. It really could have a major effect.”

Within the administration, a nightmare scenario envisions even worse consequences. Russian leaders traditionally have looked for weakness in American counterparts and Mr. Obama’s failure to impose his will on Congress would be seen as a sign of impotence. That could undercut President Dmitri A. Medvedev, who has made the improved relationship between Russia and the United States a centerpiece of his tenure despite Mr. Putin’s doubts.

That all makes sense except for the part about undercutting Medvedev.  If the thinking behind the reset were to somehow bolster the president vis-a-vis the prime minister and create a split, it only emphasizes the deeply mistaken logic behind the entire policy.