All In | September 03, 2013
>>> in just minutes, president obama will board air force one and travel first to sweden, and then to st. petersburg, russia , for the g-20 summit. there he will almost certainly have the most tense encounter yet with russia president vladimir putin in their long and very tense history. the summit is expected to be dominated by the potential u.s. military strike on syria . pulten has dismissed the chemical attack on syrian civilians as work of the rebels telling reporters o saturday, "i am sure that it is a provocation of those who want to involve other countries in syrian conflict who want to get support from powerful participants of international activities, first of all the usa." h he continued saying "as for the position of our american colleagues, the evidence should be presented. if the evidence is not presented, there is no evidence." yesterday in a nod to the upcoming congressional vote authorizing u.s. military strikes in russia , putin proposed sending a delegation of russian lawmakers to lobby congress against military intervention in syria . president obama for his part is firing back at putin . the white house has now confirmed that obama will meet with lgbt and human rights activists during his trip to russia . a strong message of support for human rights and dignity, but also surprisingly bold diplomatic provocation coming after the president already canceled his scheduled one-on-one meeting with putin , the first time any such visit has been canceled since 1960 . the meeting will come at the low point in u.s./russian relations in the obama era. putin fashions himself as the global foil for u.s. military intervention in syria , while there is growing international and domestic outrage at russia 's embrace of anti- gay laws and persecution in the run-up to the winter olympics in sochi this winter. joining me, julia ioffe of the "new republic." "the new york times" had a big, long piece by peter baker on the front page today about the nature of this relationship, and the basic part of it was the relationship with medvedev was actually fairly good and there was a kind of thawing. there was a famous attempt at a reset. since putin 's come back, it has gone from bad to worse. is it a question of the personalities or the leaders clashing, or is it the fact the two countries' interests are just determined to be in opposition to each other?
>> i think it's the latter and because the times have changed, the world has changed. in the meantime, you've had the arab spring exploding on to the world stage and dominating america's attention as it tries to pivot away to asia. you have protests breaking out domestically in russia against putin 's return to power. really if you go back, medvedev wasn't acting alone. when he talked to -- and you even saw this during the hot mike incident when he talked to obama , he would often say, i'll pass this on to my boss, and there were certain things --
>> just so people remember, this is the point at which the medvedev said i will convey to vladimir, a point obama made about having more latitude after the election.
>> this happened all the time behind closed doors from what i heard. obama would ask medvedev if he could do something on x and he would say i'd love to but i'm on a short leash for my boss. the reset was enabled by putin having that interest, like he was interested in having a reset. what i think -- i think peter baker is one of the best journalists alive, but where i would disagree with him on, is i would go back even further. i think things started to sour with libya , and i think that's where medvedev started to lose his grip on power.
>> you made this point in some of your writing that basically russia did something very novel in libya . it's very germane to what's mapening now.
>> that's right.
>> medvedev allowed the u.n. security council resolution to two forwa go forward.
>> that's right.
>> they feel like they got hoodwinked on that.
>> that's right. they say they didn't anticipate the strikes would going on as long as they did, that they would be intensive. they certainly didn't anticipate gadhafi being killed in the brutal manner he was. putin was said to have been preoccupied about that, would keep obsessing on it in private meetings. you have to imagine he was kind of seeing all of this through a personal lens. and this was all happening while there were protests exploding --
>> of course now we're in the situation with syria . russia has quite famously blocked any u.n. security council action. even the most basic condemning of the human rights , you know, violations of the regime. very basic stuff. there's an anecdote in baker's story in which the firm time that the president's national security adviser goes to meet with putin , the first thing putin says to him is when are you going to start bombing syria ? this was 18 months ago. you can imagine watching this unfold that from putin 's perspective, this is playing out precisely what he thought the u.s. was about.
>> that was actually right after gadhafi was killed. that was right after the nato bombing campaign in libya . this was already on his mind. there were protests happening in moscow . mike mcfall who had been one of obama 's closest advisers arrived in moscow as the ambassador to russia and his specialty in akd academia had been color revoluti revolutions. it's like color to a vampire in moscow .
>> color revolution as being the nonviolent uprisings we've seen across the world. the orange revolution in ukraine and places like that. this was seen as a provocation. in fact, the russian press went nuts at this ambassador showing up.
>> you had pro-kremlin youth groups with flash mobs , zombies lying on the ground playing dead , saying they didn't want to be victims of american aggression like the libyans. it was crazy. they were following mike mcfall around moscow , showing up at his meetings and harassing him. it went up to the highest levels.
>> julia ioffe, senior editor at