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Friday, December 30, 2016

Are Obama's sanctions a limp-wristed slap?

Now that he's a lame duck, President Obama grew a pair and finally made a stronger gesture than he's used to making to Russia: he expelled 35 Russian intelligence officers and imposed sanctions as part of a "necessary and appropriate response" to Moscow's alleged hacking into the DNC email system and interfering with the presidential election.

It isn't as if the Obama administration had no clue the Russians do this kind of stuff, they just waited until after Hillary Clinton lost the election to do anything about it. If Clinton would have won, aside from Americans having to listen to that shrew for 4 years, the administration would have done nothing and would have denied they influenced the election.

Experts are questioning whether the limp-wristed sanctions are strong enough to deter Putin, but it's doubtful.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton told "Fox & Friends"on Friday, "I don't think they will have much impact at all." He added that Russia's behavior was an "attack on our constitutional system" and "it is not enough to say, and people should be very careful about this, to say, well, it didn't actually have an impact on the election."

Yes, what Russia did was very serious business and something has to be done. But getting Obama to be tough on our enemies is as frustrating as getting him to be supportive of our allies.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) issued a joint statement saying that the sanctions are "long overdue." They added that it was a "small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy."

McCain as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee scheduled a hearing on foreign cyber threats and intends to toughen sanctions. The meeting is scheduled for next Thursday.

When Obama initiated the sanctions, Putin condemned the actions and vowed to retaliate, but subsequently issued a statement saying he was "reserving the right to retaliate."

Smart.

He further said that Russia "wouldn't stoop to the level of 'kitchen' irresponsible diplomacy," but he's as honest as a Clinton not under oath.

Olga Oliker (her friends call her "Oh Oh") director of Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that sanctions would have an immediate impact by showing Putin "what can be done," such as imposing sanctions on firms that deal with Russian intelligence.

"In terms of the measures responding to harassment of US diplomats, the real proof of the pudding will be Russian actions going forward," she told FoxNews.com.

While experts agree that Obama's decision sends a message, it's uncertain how it will affect Putin. 

Probably not very much.

Personally, I suspect Putin is laughing to himself over Obama's impotence and lack of foreign affairs finesse. 

Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said the report that accompanied Obama's executive order was "miserably brief" and lacked the transparency he is known for in his own mind.

"It uses big font and pictures and leaves certain holes in it that are bigger than the paper it is written on. Frankly, it raises more questions than it answers about Russia's activities," Zeldin said. He added that he thinks the intelligence briefings President-elect Trump will get next week will help shape his strategy for dealing with Putin.

Once in office, Trump will have the authority to overturn this, and other, executives orders by Obama. But he needs to make any executive order he pens, a lot stronger than Obama's.