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Remember when Obama and the Russian president ate burgers together?

Sometimes you can benefit from taking a step back from the barrage of information many media outlets would like to convince you is necessary to consume on a daily basis. You can also learn from people like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson quipped later in his life about newspapers, "I rarely think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice." There are certain accounts from newspapers, however, which are particularly pointed and really are worth noticing.

One such account is a 2010 report by Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. President Barack Obama dined with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a burger place outside the U.S. capital called Ray's Hell Burger. The two leaders seemed like two people who had a few meetings in the White House, perhaps President Obama had made a note about what kind of food he liked, and next thing you know the pair decided to go have burgers like colleagues who go to do things together after work. However the pair had decided to pick Ray's Hell Burger and not somewhere else, the two men looked like friends as much as anything.

The friendship was not simply symbolic. Obama gave his blessing to Russia for Russia to become a member of the World Trade Organization in 2010. Countries don't ship goods thousands of miles away to and from one another for any other reason than because both countries win from trade. The whole point of Russia's ascension to the WTO was to "deepen Russia's integration into the global economy," Obama said.

In addition to thanking Medvedev for his friendship and partnership, Obama told Medvedev "Mr. President, the United States will be your partner as you promote the transparency, and accountability, and rule of law that's needed to infuse the spirit of innovation throughout your economy."

The resetting of the relationship led by Obama "benefits regional and global security." Here we were, just 13 years ago, and an American leader had promised to be a partner and friend for Russia in their economic development.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Russia has been guided to implement market-oriented reforms by American economists. Larry Summers provided guidance to Russia while serving as the Chief Economist of the World Bank from 1991 to 1993. Summers advised Russia to privatize state-owned enterprises, open up foreign trade and investment, stabilize the ruble, and implement reforms to reduce the role of bureaucratic rules which inhibit growth, among other suggestions. Summers worked on the $24 billion dollar International Monetary Fund loan to Russia in 1996.

American economists Jeffrey Sachs, Anders Aslund, and Stanley Fischer provided policy guidance to Russia in the period after the fall of the Berlin Wall. American economists literally designed the policies to privatize Russia and quickly transform the country into a market-based economy. Good for Obama to promise Medvedev in 2010 that America would be a good friend and partner in helping foster innovation and accountability in Russia.

The opinions expressed in this article and the SitRep website are the author's own and do not reflect the view of

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