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Fixing the Schools
Federal Meddling Could Derail Oregon Education Reforms
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber photo courtesy of Jonathan Maus.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber photo courtesy of Jonathan Maus.

Oregon’s education reform experiments are among the boldest and most comprehensive in the country, but the Feds are throwing a wrench in the works. Since 2011, the state has been pursuing an ambitious “40-40-20 plan,” which aims to have 40 percent of the state’s adults holding a bachelor’s degree, 40 more holding an associate’s degree, and the remaining 20 with a high school diploma or equivalent in the next 15 years. This ambitious goal naturally involves a major overhaul of the state’s education system, one that de-emphasizes standardized tests.

That’s where the state runs into conflict with the Obama administration, which is threatening to revoke the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind because it hasn’t implemented higher standards for teachers and principals in its teacher evaluations. As the Corvallis Gazette-Times editorializes:

State officials have said they have no interest in creating a system that evaluates teachers primarily on the basis of standardized test results – one of the big knocks against No Child Left Behind. So more than two dozen school districts have been piloting different approaches, and the state Education Department will evaluate the results and make a recommendation to the federal government by May 1.

We like the state’s approach considerably more than the one-size-fits-all approach laid out in No Child Left Behind. But the onus now is on state educational officials to persuade a skeptical federal government that their approach makes the most sense for Oregon students and teachers – and to keep giving Oregon the space it needs for its educational reforms to take root.

We aren’t entirely convinced that Oregon’s 40-40-20 idea is the right framework, in part because measures intended to realize that goal could wind up taking away too much autonomy from local schools. But we’re glad to see Oregon making subject proficiency the educational priority rather than hours spent in the classroom, and are intrigued by its efforts to do away with college loans. In general, states should be allowed to experiment with different approaches, giving everyone a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. When federal policies keep states and cities from running their schools as they judge is best, that potentially dynamic process grinds to a halt.

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  • Bruce

    The Ted Kennedy/George W. Bush designed No Child Left Behind increased the federal role in education in a very bureaucratic manner. The word education doesn’t appear in the U.S. Constitution. The Feds have no business in it. Let the states raise the money and develop the programs. Better yet, let the states raise the money and hand out educational vouchers. Of course, that interferes with federal fiefdom building. Remember, it’s always about the power and the money and not “the children.”

    • ToniTexas

      If No Child Left a Behind were all about power and money, test scores wouldn’t have risen since its passage. It’s the only thing that keeps teachers’ unions from 100% self-serving control. Or 95% control, since school boards never did much to improve teaching.

      • Bruce

        I can’t take solace in the fact that you see some beneficial things that resulted from the unconstitutional interventions of the Feds in the educational marketplace. I saw figures on Bloomberg this morning that we haven’t risen regarding the rest of the world and we are mired around 20th place in the world on math, science and reading. When in doubt, it’s about the power and the money and the Feds want the power. Your point about the unions is valid. I remember the WSJ whining when Ma Bell was broken up. What a boon that has been for the populace.

        • Andrew Allison

          The Wicked Witch has arisen from the dead under an assumed name.

  • Corlyss

    “40 percent of the state’s adults holding a bachelor’s degree, 40 more holding an associate’s degree, and the remaining 20 with a high school diploma or equivalent in the next 15 years.”

    What’s the point of this anyway? I understand the reasons Progressives want 100% college educated electorate, i.e., because the higher the education level the more likely the voter is to support Progressives’ multiculti statist goals. I understand the reasons conservatives want 100% college educated electorate, i.e., because those people will earn more money and pay more taxes into the system. But where’s the people in this? Not everyone wants to go to college. Not everyone should go to college. Seems to me that entrepreneurs don’t need no stinkin’ college degree. What we need is more entrepreneurs, not necessarily more college educated people. A lot of college educated and about 95% of the professoriate voted for the most singularly destructive creature ever to occupy the White House (you know who I mean) and all that education didn’t make them smart enough to spot incompetence on the hoof even tho’ Obama’s resume was out there for all to see.

    • Andrew Allison

      Exactly! VM has, rightly, been questioning the assumption that “everybody” needs a degree. A major issue which you (and VM overlook) is the frustration being and to be felt by those over-educated for the available jobs.

      • Corlyss

        And I deliberately omitted mention of my dad’s favorite category: Ph. Ds who couldn’t find their a*s*es with both hands. He worked for DIA after his retirement from the Army until his death and had no patience with them.

        • Andrew Allison

          Corlyss, I fear that you miss the point. There are some Ph.Ds (to one of whom I’m married) who actually have a job which utilizes what they know. The problem is that the number of such jobs is far smaller than the number of candidates. The same is true of most other higher education.

          • Corlyss

            No, I didn’t miss the point. They are a class of hypereducated who ought not to have a job at all. Keep in mind the Ph. D.s I referred to, which was not all Ph. D.s.

          • Andrew Allison

            The problem is not just the taxi-driving higher-educated, but the hamburger-flipping over-educated. We are completely misdirecting our educational resources.

          • Corlyss


  • ToniTexas

    Remember K-12 “social promotions”? Kids were passed along to the next grade without having mastered what they were supposed to in the previous one. Standardized testing ended social promotions.

    With college grade inflation, I wouldn’t be surprised if some associate and college degrees aren’t the equivalent of social promotions.

    “Subject proficiency” was supposed to be the goal of all education. In Oregon, testing will be crucial. (And K-12 teachers’ unions will no doubt fight standard subject-specific teats as fiercely as they’ve fought standard general tests.) More power to Oregonians, but the proof will be in the pudding.

    • Corlyss

      Oh, let him have at the feds. The latter’s insidious grants with strings that distort goals and outcomes should be unconstitutional. The nation’s education “system” was a lot more effective with the one room school house and before Dewey’s utilitarianism swept all before it. Another Progressive prostitution.

    • Corlyss

      Oh, let him have at the feds. Their insidious grants with strings that distort local standards, goals, and uses should be unconstitutional. The nation’s education “system” was a lot more effective with the one room school house and before Dewey’s regrettable utilitarianism swept all before it. Another disastrous Progessive gift.

      • Andrew Allison

        Darwin was right, and egalitarianism is race to the bottom!

  • Boritz

    40-40-20 serves as a reminder that 87.4 percent of all statistics are pulled out of thin air.

    • Corlyss

      LOL Bismark’s statistician . . .

  • Russell Travers

    As I write this – the East of Ukraine is restive with moves towards a unification (Forced?) with Russia. Is this it? Is this the push that Russia needs (and may have created) to get the Invasion Ball rolling again?

    • birdonawire

      In truth it’s reunification.

  • BobSykes

    The crisis began when the US and EU fomented a neo-Nazi coup against the legitimate, democratically and freely elected government of the Ukraine. The coup leaders currently control Kiev and probably the western part of the Ukraine, but their control of the east is questionable. It is clear that they are opposed by ethnic Russians as well as some ethnic Ukrainians. It is extremely doubtful that they have majority support. It is also clear that they have absolutely no interest in democracy. A democratic opposition would have waited until the next election and then voted Yanukovych and his party out of office. These people are literally fascists, and Putin is entirely correct in that assessment.

    In the resulting chaos, Russia exploited the opportunity to reunite the Crimea with Russia, which was the existing situation for 200 years before Khruschev’s transfer of the Crimea to Ukrainian administration. There was no invasion. Russian troops were there by treaty rights. And the reunification represents the will of a large majority of the Crimean people.

    The rational solution to the crisis is exactly what Russia has proposed: a nonaligned, federal Ukraine. If the lunatics in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin continue their aggressive antics, partition of the Ukraine is likely.

    In this case at least, Putin is the good guy, and Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel are the bad guys, and decidedly so.

    It should also be noted that since the fall of the Soviet Union the US and its European allies have been running amok in the world, invading, attacking and overthrowing governments everywhere. It began with the unprovoked war against Serbia and the partition of Serbia. Then it moved onto Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and now Ukraine. The fact is, the US is an aggressive, rogue terrorist state, and it is the main source of violence in the modern world. Only fundamentalist Islam comes close.

    • Patrick Jones

      Dear Bob, who gives you your talking points ? By the way since the fall of the USSR both the USA and the EU have fostered historical change in Central and Eastern Europe bringing peace, prosperity, freedom and security for the first time since WWI. You are being more than one sided.

      • 1685penn

        Well… Bob is correct that we have used covert operations to foment a change in government in all the countries he mentions, as well as Iran in the 1950’s, Chile in the 70’s and many other places. One simple way to look at the present situation is that Putin is pissed: foreign agitators, as he has commented many times, are threatening Russian interests and stability (economic and political) in the region. Why wouldn’t he fight back, especially when he knows for a certainty he will get no substantial resistance?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You were good until your last paragraph, your last 2 sentences in fact, which are bollocks.

  • Pete

    Not a bad piece of analysis at least until Mead’s heart started bleeding with his delusion that somehow the “Ukraine also has a legitimate claim on the world” and if you don’t share that delusion you are not a decent person. .

  • toumanbeg

    Simple. Pootie messed up bad when he used the revolution of last fall as an excuse to abrogate the 1994 treaty of Budapest. The idea that a revolution invalidates any treaties by the pre-revolutionary government cuts both ways.
    Russia had a revolution in 1991 that overthrew the Soviet government. By Pootie’s logic the treaty the Soviet Union ratified to join the UN has been abrogated also. That means Russia no longer has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Russia will have to apply for membership in the UN and join the General Assembly, like any other nation. Do that first, so the Russians understand they have been bad and are being punished. Then the USA needs to announce we are leaving the NPT, with the intent of selling nuclear weapons once the 6 month notice period is up.
    Russia’s worst nightmare is Poland with nukes on ICBM’s. The diplomats can then go behind doors and let Pootie know if he resigns and goes on a book tour, we will reconsider dropping out of the NPT. Oh, BTW, pull out of the Ukraine before the 6 months is up. ALL of it. And take your Russians with you

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …pure neocon insanity, even worse than Mead’s proscriptions.

      • toumanbeg

        So, are you one of Pooties paid posters or is it just a case of the NIH blaas? You offer no solution of your own. Just a willingness to surrender.
        Why surrender to a tyrant and his weak ass army? Russia is a 3rd world nation with pretensions. Show them that. Rub their face in it.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …even more neocon insanity.

          It’s a good thing you crazed nutters have been found out, finally .

          • toumanbeg

            Crawl back in your bottle if you cannot contribute more then limp tired old insults to the conservation.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Everybody is insulting you neocon nutters, lad. You’re may be too nutty to have noticed.

  • andrewp111

    We can’t afford Ukraine. We need to redouble our commitment to the actual NATO members of Poland and the Baltics, and walk away from Ukraine. Put US troops with tactical nuclear weapons in the Baltic States and Poland, and let Russia annex Ukraine.

    • gregdn

      Why do you think Russia would allow tactical nukes in the Baltic states? They’ve got a lot of tools at their disposal to force a withdrawal.

  • Chadnis

    The only way top stop Putin is to double-down on Ukraine and other vulnerable former Soviet satellites. I’m not sure expanding NATO was such a great idea, but now that Putin is threatening his neighbors I don’t think we have much choice left. All these nations that Putin may threaten next should be brought into the NATO fold. That is really the only move I see that would counter Putin- what could he do then? He’s not suicidal, he’s not going to invade NATO nations. So, take away all his options- expand NATO membership to every nation in the region.

    • rheddles

      You really want to send Americans to die for Georgia? Do we get tied up in Nagorno-Karabakh? We got the valuable parts of the Warsaw Pact; Poland, the Baltics, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, etc. But the Caucusus, the Balkans, Central Asia? Forget it. We need to define Nato as the area we are willing to die to defend.

      • Chadnis

        I understand what you’re saying, but if we don’t respond Putin will have the green light to rebuild the Russian empire. That’s his goal. If we extend NATO membership to the nations he will likely attack, what’s he going to do? I don’t believe he is suicidal, he’s an opportunist. Let’s take away his options.

        • rheddles

          If we extend Nato membership to Georgia and Putin takes it over in a weekend are we really going to declare war on Russia and send troops to a land war in Asia? And if we don’t what does that say about the value of Nato membership to Poland, Latvia et al. And what does it say about our promises to Japan and Korea? Making promises you won’t keep is a very dangerous business.

          Whether we like it or not, Putin can invade most of the former Soviet republics and there won’t be much we can do about it. It is not our responsibility to extend republican government around the world except by example.

          There is no point in going to war with Putin to maintain in the Western world the Appalachia of the Soviet Union which was never very western to begin with.

          This may seem like a bit of two steps forward one step back. And maybe it is. But we’re keeping the big step..

          • Chadnis

            Well, if we do nothing we know what Putin is likely to do. But you’re assuming that Putin would invade a NATO country, I don’t think so. Putin’s aggressive but not suicidal. If Ukraine were already in NATO this would never have happened. Our military advantage nd nuclear deterrent advantage would stop Putin in his tracks. And if we expand NATO because of his invasion, he’s not likely to continue is he? If we don’t make Putin pay a heavy price then kiss eastern europe goodbye.

          • rheddles

            The parts of Eastern Europe that matter are in Nato, so by your logic Putin will not invade them. Who cares about the rest? Would you ask Khazakstan to join Nato?

            And I doubt we do know what Putin is likely to do. The CIA certainly didn’t. As far as I can tell Putin wanted to protect the only warm water port available to the Russian Navy from a Ukrainian government that was dissolving into anarchy. So he seized some otherwise worthless land that had been part of Russia until the Ukrainian Khruschev gave it to the Ukraine SSFR in 1954.This doesn’t make him a guy who wants to roll through the Fulda gap.

          • Chadnis

            Well I’m not sure who gets to decide what eastern european nations “matter”. And it’s pretty easy to see Putin’s next move- the rest of Ukraine. My point is that to do nothing invites more aggresion. NATO exoansion is unacceptable to Putin, so if we expand it he will understand that invasions are costly. And your over-simplification of the Crimean Invasion makes Russia sound perfectly reasonable in invading and then annexing a soveriegn countries land. I don’t think so.

          • rheddles

            I doubt Putin will move on the rest of Ukraine. Instead we will see more and more unrest in the Russian portion of the Eastern Ukraine. Perhaps bringing it to the brink of civil war after an election in which western Ukraine votes 80-20 one way while eastern Ukraine votes 20-80. To maintain order and protect the ethnic Russian population, at the request of its newly formed rump government, Russian troops will enter eastern Ukraine.

            I think you are right that Nato expansion is unacceptable to Putin. And very reasonably so. And if he sees us expanding Nato into areas that can only remotely be taken as part of the West, let alone the North Atlantic, he will be likely to reasonably interpret it as an aggressive move by Americans irrationally determined to extend Nato to the borders of Russia. So he will foment all form of trouble in the new Nato countries that have sizable Russian populations, have kleptocratic governments, are utterly unable to defend themselves and are extremely difficult for our logistical tail to reach.

            And I get to decide what eastern european nations matter because it’s my son who will be sent over to die.

          • Chadnis

            Well, I’m a veteran I served in the first Gulf War. And I am not a war-mongerer either. But you seem to think Russia was justified in their invasion. Is that what you think?

          • rheddles

            Justified is a hard word. Do I think they did the right thing? No. The civilized thing? No. But I think I understand why they did it. I fear we botched the opportunity to bring Russia into the west in the 90’s. While we didn’t do a victory parade, we did take the spoils of war and kick the Ruskies when they were down. Our approach to post cold war Russia was somewhere was neither Versailles nor the Marshall Plan. Then we elect a fool twice. Can we really be surprised they’re looking for some clawback?

          • Chadnis

            It sounds like you believe Russia’s invasion was basically our fault. Please remember the nature of the Soviet Union and then ask yourself: What would they have done if they’d won the Cold War? Any spoils of war we did take (NATO expansion) pails in comparison to what the Soviet Union would have done. I’ll agree that a Marshall Plan would have helped Russia join the rest of the world. But would they have even accepted that? At any rate, we don’t get a “do-over”, so we have to figure out the best way going forward top prevent Russia from invading its’ neighbors. NATO expansion probably helped create the environment for Russia to feel justified in its’ invasion, but NATO expansion is the best answer now. I think that’s the only way to keep Russia at bay.

          • rheddles

            It sounds like you believe Russia’s invasion was basically our fault.

            Russia’s invasion was Russia’s fault. Part of the reason they invaded was our actions, both at the time of the fall of the soviet union and at the time of the recent anarchy.

            What would they have done if they’d won the Cold War?

            They would have done to Western Europe what they did to Eastern Europe. They would have had a hard time reaching the US.

            Any spoils of war we did take (NATO expansion)

            Isn’t that the lesson of Versailles v. the Marshall Plan; there are no spoils of war, only the seeds of the next war. With the Marshall Plan, we weeded out those seeds. With Versailles, we fertilized them. With the fall of the Soviet Union, we let the field go fallow. That was a mistake.

            NATO expansion is the best answer now.

            Nato expansion is the best provocation.

          • Chadnis

            “Part of the reason they invaded was our actions…” I’ll have to disagree with you there. I think Putin has been planning this invasion for some time, I think he’s made preperations for the last several years. Cooperating with us in regards to Iran, Syria, etc..- this made Russia more important to our foreign policy goals. Getting the EU hooked on Russian gas makes it harder for the EU to stand against Russia’s aggresion. Hosting the Olympics raised Russia’s international standing just before he invades. Now Putin believes he is poised to become the Anti-American leader, he will gather our enemies to his cause. What is Putin’s ultimate plan? A new Russian Empire. We didn’t create Putin, he created himself.

          • RTO Dude

            @chadnis:disqus and @rheddles:disqus, very good discussion. I do believe that our handling of Eastern Europe (including Russia) following the Berlin Wall coming down was cold-hearted. I didn’t understand it at the time and I believe we’re paying for it now. I don’t believe our current involvement in the Ukraine was “wrong” though, in that it was the best chance Ukraine had to escape their own kleptocracy. Joining the EU was going to be difficult, but seemed the best path forward.

            To me this all revolves around Putin – which is why I really was interested in Dmitry’s take. We can’t lose sight of the fact that a failed Russian state benefits nobody.

            I certainly agree that our current administration is depressingly adept at screwing everything up.

          • rheddles

            Comments going to the memory hole?

          • markbuehner

            Yes appeasement has a wonderful track record for us. Lets wait til parts of America start exploding before we bestir ourselves.

          • rheddles

            And interventionism has worked out well also. There may be a time when Putin threatens the western world, but it isn’t now.

          • markbuehner

            This is the silliness that the left has embraced whole hog- that we either go to war with Russia or do essentially nothing. Those are not the only choices.

          • rheddles

            There certainly is much more that could be done, but to do so would involve offending some blue allies (frack, frack). So how serious are they about doing anything? And if they’re not really serious, stop pretending.

          • markbuehner

            Sometimes you should proceed despite the concerns of allies. Thats was the traditional role of ‘Leadership’, back before we led from behind. Its a vicious cycle- the more timid and uncertain you are, the less likely anyone will want to stick their necks out and follow you, leaving you less willing partners and making you more timid. This administration has been a textbook example of that downward spiral.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            This administration supported you neocons in your Libya fiasco, and is still supporting your Syria fiasco. They’ve given you neocons most of what you want, including your provocative intrusions in Ukraine. If there’s a downward spiral, it’s concerning you neocons and your soulmate Obama .

        • toumanbeg

          So? A Soviet Empire 2.0 will collapse just as the Original did. Pootie and his cronies still haven’t figured out why the original didn’t work. Like all good socialists stuck in a hole, their solution is to dig faster.
          That never gets you out of the hole.
          The difference this time around is that The New Soviet Men running Russia today will try to use force. The Soviet Union stopped short of a shooting war because they knew they would lose.
          Pootie is thinking the west is too decadent to fight back. Prove him wrong by running a leaflet raid on Moscow. Use B-2’s to drop a few million sheets of toilet paper with Pootie’s picture on one side and the warning that this sheet of paper could be a nuke on the other.

        • Breana

          Go to war with Putin? How many wars do you neocons want to fight? The EU is not doing much about Crimea or Ukraine, so I see no sense in our soldiers bleeding over it. And if Putin does invade the Baltic states, is Germany actually going to send troops or just wait on the good ole’ US of A? Sorry, but we can’t solve all the world’s problems.

  • Dracovert

    In other words, a weaker Russia has the stronger West buffaloed, just as a weaker Germany did 75 years ago. And Putin and Hitler did it the same way, using cross-border nationals to violate borders, laws, and treaties.

    The common denominator here is that Hitler and Putin both have the characteristics of clinical psychopaths. Psychopaths are acquisitive and want to control you: physically, emotionally, sexually, financially, or politically, depending on the individual abilities and inclinations of the psychopath. With enough provocation we could slug it out with Russia, except for the nuclear threat.

    Interesting times we live in. Enjoy.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      “The common denominator here is that Hitler and Putin both have the characteristics of clinical psychopaths. Psychopaths are acquisitive and want to control you: physically, emotionally, sexually, financially, or politically, depending on the individual abilities and inclinations of the psychopath.”

      Your description sounds like what is going on right here, under our very noses with the O administration.

      • Dracovert

        Oh, yes, I have long held that Obama is psychopathic. Google “Dracovert Obama” for a rich sampling of my views on Obama.

  • Anthony

    “The dust has settled a bit following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the seizure of the Crimea, and it’s now possible to discern the new landscape and to start thinking seriously about what the US and EU should do next…. What is our Russia policy? Where does the West see Russia fitting into the international system?…the truth is that we can’t have a sensible Ukraine policy unless we have a serious Russia policy, and developing a serious Russia policy requires a serious Eurasian strategy for the long haul.” Essentially, the aforementioned strikes at the crux of essay’s title. In 20th century, U.S. has fought three wars (World War I, World War II, and Cold War) to preclude regional hegemon and if, as WRM asserts, Putin wants a more multipolar world the question is what kind of world does the United States want. And are we willing to defend said? So now given WRM ‘s analysis, we must consider another reset and develop concurrent policystrategy that is more than ongoing conversations (as integral as they may be) between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

  • Andrew Allison

    The first phrase in this otherwise estimable essay is unfortunate. Putin neither invaded nor seized Crimea. There were more than enough Russian troops in Crimea with the consent of the Ukrainian government to give the Crimea’s cover to vote for annexation. Let’s keep in mind that the present government of Ukraine is unelected. It was the unthinking attempt to bring Ukraine into an economic agreement with the European Union which kicked over this anthill. Period.

  • rheddles

    Two points:

    Why should we do anything when the EUropeans won’t and can’t do anything. It’s their backyard. Every time they get something going they do a no show and we have to step in and do they heavy lifting; the Balkans, Libya, etc.

    Perhaps Mead wants Rand Paul on the Republican ticket. Because that is where this idiotic middle of the road (the only thing in the middle of the road is road kill) policy leads.

  • dubiyarden

    Umm. . .

    Before Dr. Mead laxes lyrical about how wonderful the Ukrainians are and how deserving of our support, he should perhaps do some research on the actual history of the Ukraine.

    In the 17th century, the Cossack Chmelnitski, a Ukrainian “hero” to this day, launched a revolt against their Polish overlords. The revolt in particular targeted the Jewish population for rape, pillage, and slaughter, with perhaps half of the affected population killed.
    Many Ukrainians enthusiastically joined forces with Hitler in WWII, and participated in the Holocaust as concentration camp guards and as auxiliary police used to round up victims.
    A plague on both their houses.

    • markbuehner

      Americans held millions of slaves decades after the rest of the civilized world outlawed the practice. So screw us too and whatever happens to us we deserve, because of something our ancestors did. Right?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        The US rejected that practice, by force of arms. That sort of breaks the link, cleanses it. Various Ukrainian subgroups haven’t done that.

        • markbuehner

          Is there some sort of baptismal ritual involved? Is something intoned to induce the moment of cleansing? Until then, I suppose, well, screw the desendents right?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Is this bizarre collection of words supposed to mean something to us, lad? I can’t fathom it, if so.

          • markbuehner

            No doubt.

  • Arkeygeezer

    This looks like a job for the UNITED NATIONS! Not the U.S.

    • rheddles


    • Patrick Jones

      When did the UN do anything constructive ? Did it end the Cold War ? Did it save people in Rwanda ? You must be kidding.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Yes, the UN stumbles all over itself to do nothing, everywhere.

      • Arkeygeezer

        Not at all. The United Nations was set up specifically to handle matter such as this one. We have been big supporters of the UN including funding half of their budget over the past 60 years. Just because the UN is ineffective is no reason to bypass it.

        A Resolution in the UN General Assembly would place significant pressure on Russia…..if we could get one approved.

        • Patrick Jones

          A resolution in the General Assembly already passed two weeks ago that condemned the annexation of Crimea. The vote was 100 for, 11 against and 58 abstentions. It has made no impact whatsoever. The Russians are still in the Crimea.

  • gregdn

    Excellent article. We’ve overstepped our bounds and are now paying for it. We need to stop treating Russia as if it’s some third world country.


    Liberal say that Putin has destroyed for the time being the chance integrate the Russian economy with the EU, and the eastern European countries are looking with revulsion at his latest actions. The EU and America say this will damage the Russian economy and cause the best and brightest to leave Russia. That all maybe true ,but i don’t think Putin cares if Russia suffers a bit for a decade. the Baltic States have large Russian minorities and ice free ports. A new Russian empire is what Putin wants and he doesn’t care if it knocks 5 or 10% off Russian GDP

    • birdonawire

      No GDP growth = no empire

  • markbuehner

    The first step is to stop worrying about what Putin has done and start worrying about what Putin is about to do. IE- the ‘spontaneous’ pro-Russian uprisings are already breaking out in Eastern Ukraine. We’ve had over a month to think about and counter this eventuality, but I suspect very little in the way of material thought has gone into countering this move, mainly because the administration and their idealogical allies in the punditry dont want to think about it. But its happening, and once Russian troops occupy Eastern Ukraine, i’m sure they will defensively and oh so smugly claim there is nothing we can do. There is never much you can do if you wait until the situation on the ground is settled.

    • tpaine1

      That would require this Administration has even the remotest idea of “real politic.” It doesn’t. In fact, Obama wants us to be a third rate power and is working like crazy to hollow out our military.

      • markbuehner

        Yeah, well said. At least Carter was just inept. Obama is actively attempting to make the US less influential and able to project less power.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      “…once Russian troops occupy Eastern Ukraine”, the US will supply mountains of Kalashnikovs and RPG’s to the militias who will fight a blood soaked insurgency against Putin, and bleed him, and bleed him, and bleed him.

      Every move beyond the current situation is going to cost Putin blood and treasure. He knows this. He’ll get what he wants, but he won’t use military means to do it. You blustering neocons and Obama are his most useful allies, I suspect.

      • markbuehner

        Hows that going so far chief?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …you mean, how’s yours and Obama’s blustering neocon plan working out?

          • markbuehner

            Obama’s a neocon now? Heh. One of us is a little confused.

  • Doug Santo

    Can Putin be countered?

    Of course he can be countered.

    The question is: Can Putin be countered by the current U.S. administration?

    The answer is that he could be, but the current administration lacks the skill and the will.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

    • Yaaaaaah

      And you say this about the current administration because. . . .?

      • Bill R

        I’d say Doug has this opinion because so far this administration hasn’t been capable of much. Countering a determined foe may just be a stretch for the academics in this administration.

        • tpaine1

          In fact, it’s been mostly inept at anything and everything it’s attempted to do. Remember the “Arab Spring” or the “Russian reset button?”

        • birdonawire

          Qaddafi gone, Syria’s WMD going, troops out of Iraq and soon out of Afghanistan, Bin Laden gone. All major achievements.

          • Joseph Lammers

            No, they aren’t. Getting rid of Qaddafi was rather stupid, as he had started to play ball with the West. The only definite positive achievement was getting rid of Bin Laden, I’ll grant that.

          • Jim__L

            Why? Was bin Laden still a part of operational Al Qaeda? Did we reduce their capabilities one whit by killing him?

            Saying that’s Obama’s best accomplishment is damning with faint praise.

          • Joseph Lammers

            Kind of my point.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Qadaffi going was a massive and expensive blunder, and it’s ongoing.

            Syria’s WMD are well in place, and will remain so. And Obama’s blathering that they’re gone is destabilizing the situation.

            Bush ended the Iraq war and scheduled the withdrawal. Obama had nothing to do with it.

            Obama quadrupled US troop counts in Afghanistan, and they still haven’t gone down to Bush era levels, and they may never.

            What’s Obama got to do with Osama? Nothing, is the answer . Obama is a failure, and has been.

    • John Morris

      Dare we ask a more basic question? What if it isn’t a question of skill or will but desire? What in Obama’s background leads a clear eyed observer to reject this question: “Considering his upbringing, training and world view, does President Obama disagree with Putin’s basic goal of a multipolar world?”

      I say the question is valid and the answer is that he does indeed agree that a world where there the US is weaker and there are multiple ‘equals’ is a better one. And he isn’t a lone wolf leading a one man conspiracy or a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ either, there is a large portion of the progressive movement who believes exactly that. Obama of course would prefer the managed decline of the US to lead to the U.N. gaining power but I doubt Putin does. Neither do the rulers in China or Iran.

      • T Lee

        If you know of a way to avoid a multipolar world in the future, in view of the changed economic landscape (at the end of WWII, US GDP was some 60% of the world vs some 26% today), then you ought to share it.

        • John Morris

          Someday it will happen. But China is a lie and Russia is still a third world country with fusion bombs without even the fiction of being a world power the Soviet Empire gave them. Elevating them to co-equals now can only be accomplished by lowering us down to their level.

          Better would be for us to carry the ‘White Man’s Burden’ a little longer while Brazil, China, India and Russia actually get their act together and become worthy of taking a place on the world stage. You will know when they are mature enough when they want to shoulder some of the responsibilities and expenses and not just make a claim to the perks.

  • Patrick Jones

    Allowing Putin to gobble up Ukraine will only whet his appetite for more former Soviet territory. He will conclude that NATO guarantees are as hollow as Obama’s red lines. That would be a momentous step and a huge problem for all of us. Professor Mead has done a good job in describing the challenge of bringing Ukraine into the western sphere. While it is formidable it is a lot easier that winning the Cold War. Mead should have mentioned that a successful transition spells an end to the Putin system and to Russia’s flirtation with empire. It is also a guarantee for the states in Central and Eastern Europe that Moscow will no longer be able to brutalize and rule them. Helping Ukraine is not charity. It is an investment in the long term security of Europe. Moreover, Mead was correct in stating that we need a long term Russian policy. We need to hold out the opportunity for Russia to follow in Ukraine’s footsteps to join Europe when it has made the changes necessary. That goes for NATO as well. But this requires a new regime in Russia. The offer has to be real and achievable. I believe that the younger generation in Russia would lunge for this. This is not a utopian goal but a realistic long term strategy to insure the preservation of the Russian state allowing it to fulfill its role in Asia as well as in Europe.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      If you mean “join Europe” as in join the EU then you should be made aware that large portions of the EU are now rejecting it. The EU aka the EUSSR is often viewed as totalitarian and controlled by oligarchs and elitists. Sound familiar?

      One of the most important parts of the “long term Russian policy” that you mention is not to NATO-ize former members of the Soviet Union. The Russians view this as a threat. It’s provocative, and shouldn’t be the West’s policy.

      • fzk5220

        Whys should the West be afraid of NATO-izing Ukraine simply because it would be viewed by Putin as provocative? Provocation is exactly the game he is playing in Ukraine. That is the only language he speaks and is capable of understanding. That is the Mother Russia way.
        I say at the very least NATO-ize Ukraine if they ask for it and if so why not EU-nionize them?

        • the viceroy’s gin

          It is the EUSSR and NATO that initiated the provocations in Ukraine. Russia responded to those. You really need to study this flowchart. Write it down and study it.

          And now you neocons want to escalate the situation and militarize Ukraine?

          Madness. Utter madness.

          • fzk5220

            Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

            William Shakespeare

          • the viceroy’s gin

            You neocons have lost it now, obviously.

            “A bombing campaign, a bombing campaign… my kingdom for a bombing campaign!”

            Some Clueless Neocon Muppet

          • fzk5220

            With all due respects, I believe you must be a neocomm.
            You can’t even quote Shakespeare correctly and must resort to watching Muppets. 🙂
            Have some more gin.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            With no respect at all, as you neocons don’t merit it, you are a neocon nutter.

        • Dmitry Feichtner

          I agree. But for Ukraine to become part of EU, EU would have to reform, and it cannot really support yet another large and poor nation. … and I doubt EU will reform, so UKR chances are bleak there. Also NATO will cautious. So the sad truth is that Ukrainians are pretty much facing Putin by themselves…

  • Yaaaaaah

    Several bits of advice for you, Mr. Mead:

    1.) Stop kvetching and moaning about what a “bad hand” the West has. It’s unattractive, and it’s wrong.

    2.) Stop calling Putin a “master strategist” and a “chess player”. He is nothing of the kind. He lost the entirety of Ukraine, save Crimea, with all 44 million people in it. It is not “cheerleading” to say that Putin has caught the short end of recent events overall. It is fact.

    3.) Stop claiming that everything that the West does short of sending in the troops is “dithering and posturing”. By the same logic, everything Russia does short of sending Spetznatz to Kiev is “dithering and posturing”–including the parade of horribles you mentioned like stopping Ukrainian trucks, manipulating energy markets, etc. Some consistency, please.

    4.) Stop waxing morose about “option two”. Option two is the only
    option we plausibly have, so we’re going to make a swing at it. Whether
    you think we “can with the current administration” or not.

    In short, good god man, stop whining. You sound like my dog when I won’t give him dinner scraps.

    Putin has none of the West in a “bind”. If this is a bind, I’d hate to see how you’d define the OPEC embargo.

    • tpaine1

      So, in short, just give Russia a free hand to annex any part of Eastern Europe it wants to??

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …no, not in short nor in long, much as you neocon reductionists would like to shriek that.

  • Tomas Pajaros

    Heavily Russian eastern Ukraine/Crimea, with very strong economic and social ties to Russia, is about to become
    partly Ukrainian part of Russia. Truly there is not much of a change here. Corrupt overlordship before, and after. Mostly Russian controlled before, and after. Lip service to democracy before, and after.

    This isn’t really a crisis. It’s just a few pawns being moved around a board with no change to the geopolitical balance of power.

    These entities that want to break free of Russia’s grip and join the EU need to learn – do, do it fast, do it decisively, and don’t count on the West for any support whatsoever.

    • birdonawire

      Exactly. Ukraine isn’t broke.

    • Dmitry Feichtner

      Eastern Ukraine (unlike Crimea) has sizable russian minority, not majority
      ukrainians are more numerous there.
      in a fair referendum they will probably choose to stay.
      Money is not russian controlled either, Rinat Akhmetov (the richest person) is
      not russian, as you can see from his name. They want autonomy, not russian

  • Dan Wafford

    All I can say is, he’d better watch out, or Dear Leader will smack him right upside the head – with a red line.

  • Dan Wafford

    They must be feeling really warm and fuzzy in Japan just now – Obama just got through saying that we would stand with them just like we are standing with Ukraine. Hah!

  • tpaine1

    Yeah, but not by this President or ANY Democrat President.

  • PJ1020

    Well I think obama should draw a red line. That would surely make Vlad stop and reconsider any take over.

  • johnwerneken

    This is one of those things, like the moon shot, that have at least three aspects. Most obviously, very hard very long very expensive and not at all what we are good at doing nor especially like to do, and without any immediate reward of any kind. Then there is the payoff of accomplishing something in the medium run: self-respect and a boost to stability in the world, both direly lacking. Then there is, not so much the LIKELIHOOD of a huge payoff any time soon, but the certainty that there is no payoff in unstable and threatened parts of the world unless we go all in, like a moon shot.

    Go for it, right after impeaching Obama and Biden too.

  • Jon Lester

    Another day, another completely fucking stupid anti-Russian hit piece. Is it so hard to conceive that maybe Putin’s doing the countering?

    • Dmitry Feichtner

      It is not anti-russian, it is anti-Putin. Actually, it is Putin who is anti-russian.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …that’s not what the Russians say, if you check the polls.

        • Dmitry Feichtner

          Putins policy is anti-russian since it leads to the political marginalization of Russia,
          it makes Russian culture less popular in the world, and makes Russian economy
          more isolated; Hitler’s poll numbers were all up, yet his policies led a near
          destruction of the german civilization, so Hitler was in effect anti-german
          same way as Putin is anti-russian

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Gone Godwin so early in the argument? 😉

            I get it that you want to speak for the Russian people, but sorry, that’s not allowed. They don’t agree with you, and they’re the ones who would decide whether something is against their interests, not you.

            But picking up on your Godwinism, Hitler was popular when the economy was picking up, but much of that was because he had immediately slaughtered his political opposition upon taking office. And a few years into the war, not even that previous intimidation was good enough. He had to threaten everybody and their families with death, in order to force them to execute his wishes.

            To get back to something productive, I’d suggest you do what the muppets in the EU and the US haven’t done, and take a look at Russia’s real strategic interests, military and economic. That might help you understand why Putin is doing what he’s doing, and why the above muppets are so wrong and foolish in their actions.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            I am russian so you really messed up this one, my friend. I see that you are into deciding
            for others what is allowed and what is not, branding US and EU muppets and suggesting
            for others their course of actions. No wonder you like Putin, you two are really similar.

            I am not deciding for the russians I am just contesting the notion that majority can decide
            what is best for them. Informed majority in a democratic country – yes. Not a majority
            in the nation which has no democratic tradition and is bombarded daily with a state TV propaganda.

            I maintain my point that Putin is NOT doing what is best for the Russia, his
            actions are not making this country stronger. Russia has many opportunities for taking
            its rightful place in the world, but he is not using them. His main focus is
            to stay in power indefinitely, everything else is subordinated that goal.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, lad. You deign to speak for the Russian people, and you can’t. They don’t agree with you. End of.

            On the other hand, I can suggest what you should do, even if you think I shouldn’t. You and the EU and US muppets haven’t reveiwed the Russian strategic situation, as mentioned. I suggest you do.

            Who says I “like Putin”, besides you, lad? Do your fantasies always control your posts?

            I didn’t say an “informed majority” should decide anything, I simply refuted what you claimed was good for Russia, by pointing out Russian public opinion. Again, stop fantasizing what I and others say, lad.

            You maintain whatever you’d like, lad. But I’s suggest you take a hard look at the Russian strategic military and economic situation, before you broadcast your maintainings. You clearly haven’t, and neither have the EU and US muppets, and that’s why they look like idiots right now.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            I do not speak for the russian people. You on the other hand seem to want to.
            Given the current situation with the freedom of speech in Russia I do not
            think the official polls reflect much. Besides I am still not getting the point
            how this engineered public opinion is supposed to point correctly
            what is good for Russia. It does not, and what Putin does is bad for Russia.
            He is destroying the country and seriously damages the russian standing
            in the world by pursuing the policy whose sole purpose is preserving
            of the money which he and his cronies have stolen from the russian people.

            Since you are into suggestions – let me suggest that you learn from people
            like Navalny about what is really going on in Russia.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Well, I know you don’t speak for the Russian people, lad, but you’re certainly trying to do so as we see. I point out what they think, not speak for them. You ignore what they think, and discount it and say it’s wrong they would think this way.

            You’re just illegitimate in your viewpoint, is all.

            Navalny would have taken over Crimea as well, lad. You still haven’t done what I suggested, in reviewing Russian strategic defense and economic concerns. Navalny has, no doubt.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Curiously, you seem to think that repeating the word “lad” makes your point better articulated… Strange…

            … also repeating that the viewpoint of another person is illegitimate is immature; am I supposed to say “no it is your point which is illegitimate” and we go on like this? seems a bit pointless and boring …

            With Navalny – I advise you read his post on the matter which I agree with. In short, in case you do not know. Russia does have a legitimate interest in Crimea and there are tons of other ways to support the ethnic russians abroad without diminishing russian international standing. Covert or overt invasions of other sovereign nations is not one of this options. And NO Navalny does not support the annexation in the current form, and he called on people to protest this.

            Invading Ukraine is plain stupid thing to do IF your main point is pursuing Russian strategic defense and economic concerns, which I would call pro-russian. However, Putin is not stupid. The reason he acts as he does is because he is not pursuing what is best for Russia. He is pursuing what is best for himself and his cronies. The current atmosphere is exactly what he needs to stay in power forever and to keep the stolen money for himself and his mafia. Which is what I would call anti-russian.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Well, you have immature viewpoints, lad, so that probably elicits the characterization. It fits you.

            Your characterization of Russian peoples’ opinion is illegitimate, lad. No sense whimpering about that being pointed out. It just is. It’s illegitimate. It’d be the same if you tried to do that to me or a group of me. It would be just as illegitimate. You can make your point, you just can’t illegitimately transfer your point to cover another group. That’s illegitimate.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Uups, for a moment there I thought you were interested in a serious discussion. My mistake.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, that whimsy is a common tactic, when you types are caught out for your illegitimate behavior.

          • Dmitry Feichtner


          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, it is amusing that you deign to speak for what an entire country thinks, or should think.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Navalny is a political opposition, and his empty contrarian rhetoric is belied by your own characterization of Navalny’s words. By these own words, he’s supported the strategic military and economic underpinnings of these Russian actions. And they are not an “invasion”, lad. You are fantasizing again.

            Again, rather than mischaracterizing what Russia is doing, I’d recommend you review Russian strategic defense and economic imperatives, which your mate Navalny obviously has done, even if you haven’t.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Here is what I would need to reply if I were you:
            “Fantasizing again, lad?
            It is an invasion, lad, no matter what you call it.
            You can have your opinion on that but it is illegitimate
            as is any empty contrarian rhetoric you or your fellow
            lads will come up with. No matter how often you say it, lad,
            it is plain illegitimate as are any of your fantasies. ”

            Do not you see how pointless it is carrying on like that?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            No, it is not an “invasion”, lad. That is your fantasy.

            That isn’t opinion, lad. It’s observation of reality.

            It is pointless of you to fantasize your own version of reality, yes.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Yes, it is an invasion, lad. The rest is your fantasy.
            I am sorry to hear that you cannot deal with the harsh
            reality and have to resort to your pointless version of what is true and what is not. It is time for you to start to follow my recommendations, lad, and stop living in your own illegitimate fantasy world.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            No, lad, fantasy is when you ignore facts and reality, as you are doing.

            For example, when a nation has treaty rights to have troops in Crimea, it can’t be accused of an “invasion”, unless it’s accusations made by a fantasist.

            Like you for example.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Oh, the illegitimately fantasizing lad is back?

            So now any country which has a military basis in another country
            can just let its troops occupy the rest of country. Quite a precedent there…
            Oh, I forgot, we need a “referendum” too. Preferably with the military block
            post on every corner.

            I suggest my lad that you stop living in your fantasies and try to deal with the ultimate

          • RTO Dude

            @dmitryfeichtner:disqus, your opponent here is acting like total idiot.

            @disqus_nCfqVkjVlP:disqus, you should be ashamed of yourself. This gentleman is making well-considered points. Instead of engaging on the substance of the issues, you’re spewing nonsensical verbiage. Stop debating semantics and, whether you agree with him or not, afford Dmitry the respect due an honorable opponent.

            Unless you’re one of the beneficiaries of Putin’s policies?

            Note I’m not agreeing with your positions, Dmitry, I’m objecting to the waste of time reading specious responses.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Thanks @RTO Dude. I have no problem with someone not agreeing with my points.
            As a matter of fact, exchanging rational arguments with someone who has a different opinion appears to me to be the very essence of the debate.

            Like I was trying to say my picture of what is going on is in essence as follows.
            The basis of Putin’s rule and popularity in Russia is/used to be economy. With prices
            for oil and gas rallying over the last decade so was the Putins economy and people
            ascribed incorrectly this success to his personality. Now the party was over last
            year and these guys are searching for what else to do to boost their numbers.
            There is a reason why they do not want to develop the economy similar to a western country
            so they need something else. So they come up with this patriotic crap and Crimea
            just came up as a target of opportunity. What I am trying to say is that there are many
            ways to approach the Crimea problem, and the general the Russians being the largest
            divided nation problem, which stop short of invading sovereign nations and annexing
            parts of them. So – either Putin is stupid and does not know it, or he has some other
            interests to pursue. Like for example getting Russia backward and isolated and being
            left …. well… just him, him personally, him and his crony friends.

            In case there is anything specific about this which you think differently about and feel like engaging in a debate – feel free to let me know.

          • RTO Dude

            Well, I think the question really is *why* Putin invaded. I was reading Scowcroft’s analysis of his actions, but as I mentioned in another post, I believe a large part of our current problems stem from how we handled the fall of the Soviet Union. (Which he was partially responsible for.) A non-Communist Russia is not a natural enemy of the United States or Europe, imo. While it is not necessarily a friend either, we can’t afford a failed state sitting on top of the massive Siberian resource reserve next to an autocratic Chinese state. (If you’re Russian you probably find that a bit of a backhand compliment.)

            Scowcroft’s view of Putin supports Mead’s second alternative – active opposition to Moscow. (Which also seems to be Mead’s preferred course, though he doesn’t come out and say so.) Correct me if I’m wrong, but you also believe we should be actively opposing Putin. But you see that as a desirable end in and of itself, correct? You believe Russia would be better off without Putin, and Russia’s problems are his personal responsibility, to some degree? (I don’t normally see that position discussed, which is why I was short with viceroy – and btw, viceroy, after reading the whole thread I do agree with some of your other positions, but that’s no excuse to “shout down” someone else.)

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            Where did you read this analysis? would be interesting.
            I certainly think that US and western Europe have mishandled
            dealing with Russia after the end of the cold war. It was wrong
            to consider this a winner/loser situation, since nobody wants to stay loser forever, Kosovo was one huge blunder, and so on… This a slightly different though related issue.

            Putin is just extremely clever to instrumentalise this feeling in the russian society to achieve his ends, which I believe to be quite different from what is officially articulated. Remember that he is a former KGB agent and acts accordingly.

            Russia has many problems and getting rid of Putin will not solve them all, but his policies are certainly aggravating the situation. Surely it is open to an argument how much influence a personality has on history – and if he is gone tomorrow the next guy might be as bad…

            IMHO there is a number of non-military things the west can do to help Russia, if, that is, it wants to help (which is not so clear to me).

            1. as the main thing, it needs to give a strong support to the russian civil society; against the opposition of Putin & Co;
            the development of strong middle class and maturing of civil society is what eventually will bring him, or whoever comes next, down; it would have to be a development like Spain or Chile (in the worst case as now in Ukraine)

            2. the West needs to understand the TRUE reasons behind the actions of the Russian government, which are focussed around companies/money controlled by Putin & Co; hitting there is where it will hurt most; surely Putin will try to deflect some of the hit to the people, but it will hurt his popularity…

            there is more, but my post is too long already, sorry

          • RTO Dude

            It’s likely the current administration understands the Russian politico-economic situation quite well. They’re birds of a feather in some ways, which is not a compliment. The crony capitalism component of Putin’s regime is less foreign than we’d like.

            Does Putin realize how fortunate he is to be dealing with the current administration, I wonder? Do you realize how much damage his adventurism is doing to the Democratic party’s prospects? It’s a long time until the 2016 elections, of course, but I find it ironic that after alienating so many of our traditional allies one of Obama’s new “smart diplomacy” allies pays him back in kind.

            I don’t think any American policy will include attempting to influence internal Russian affairs, nor do I believe we should try. While supporting Russian civil development sounds good, any but the most formal diplomatic involvement in my opinion would be insanely risky.

          • RTO Dude

            (Cont.) – what seems likely to happen, though, is that the next election cycle will install an American executive unwilling to countenance further Russian military expansion. Unfortunately, in my opinion a more effective and realistic foreign policy will likely be coupled with a less accommodating attitude towards Russia, or at least towards Putin. I’m not sure that’s what you’d want.

            All this is speculation, though, and a long way off.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            I am not too versed with the american inner politics, but the little I know of what Obama was doing with all these government support of firms, which were just failing. It is like government trying to hand-pick winners and losers in a market economy…. a little strange… and all these government military contracts under Bush were also lucrative for those involved, I guess. So, yeah, I guess corruption is everywhere, but comparing US corruption with the Russian one is like comparing a cold with a potentially lethal cancer.

            … and yes, Putin is extremely happy having Obama (rather than say Romney) as an opponent; he thinks of Obama as weak and indecisive, someone he feels he can dominate; I think Putin is more afraid of Merkel than he is of Obama. BTW – one fact well-known in Russia is that Putin has a street-hooligan mentality. Meaning in particular that he only respects strength, aggression, and so on…

            … as for not getting involved in Russia – it definitely plays badly with the public if there is a visible foreign attempt to influence things- this is right; however, many of Putin’s henchmen are having business and properties in US and in Western Europe; there is no reason why US should let them loot at home and invest in Miami…

            before the Ukraine glitch I would have said that West and Putin are both happy with the status quo (Putin is looting and West is getting natural resources in a reliable and cheap way) with Russian people being the ultimate losers, but then again who cares about them, they are cursed anyway, right?

          • RTO Dude

            And have been for centuries, seems. 🙂 Dmitry, can’t type on this iPad, chat later as we watch developments. Good night.

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            sure, good night,
            but I am not buying into the point that Russians cannot have a democratic national state and reach the economic level of countries like South Korea, with (previously) the same lack of democratic traditions

          • Dmitry Feichtner

            … forgot to say why getting rid *specifically* of Putin is vital. The reason is because like I said Russians attribute the economic growth of the last 10 years to him *personally*, not the party he has. Once he is done, they are down at least 20%. Still a strong political force, but not dominating any more.
            Giving a space of society to breathe out.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Any country that has a treaty permitting it to keep tens of thousands of troops in Crimea can keep tens of thousands of troops in Crimea, lad. That’s sort of how it works. Not sort of, it is how it works, everywhere but in your fantastical mind.

            Sorry that your fantasies tell you that is “occupation”, but that is just as wrong as when you fantasized it as “invasion”.

            They’re both merely your fantasies.

      • T Lee

        Don’t define what is ‘Russian’ for the Russian’. This is the kind of Aspergers-like obtuseness that prevents serious discussion from taking place.

        • Dmitry Feichtner

          I am one and there are many like me.

  • claymore

    if we are more afraid of war than the Russians are then putin can’t be stopped. … on the other hand if we let putin hammer Ukraine because it is in his interests, then putin will let us hammer iran next year because it is in our interests…..first we look away then later he will look away

    • adk

      This is just plain silly. First, nobody in the West is itching for a war with Russia. The response, if there’s one, will be further economic sanctions and possibly (but not likely) some troops/weapons movements into NATO eastern member states. Second, hoping that allowing Putin to do what he feels like to the former Soviet republics will prompt, in return, his helping the US/West with Iranian nukes, Syria, etc. is complete misreading of the man and what he perceives as his interests.

  • tantorsea7

    And again why is Ukraine or Iran of interest to the US? Wake up America, we are being played as suckers, using against us our love of freedom. Much of the Media, the GOP Establishment and the neocon writers, and a good part of the Democratic party leadership want us to bomb, invade, and make war in causes that do not benefit us and in fact harm us.

    Our most recent feats of foreign meddling to

    “help human rights” and secure “freedom” and “punish tyrants” include bombing

    Libya (on BO’s orders and with complete GOP and Democratic Establishment

    backing) a country that had not attacked us or threatened to attack us, deposing

    its ruler, and causing a terrible chaos that has led to the burning of our

    in Benghazi and the killing of an ambassador and other Americans and to the

    filtering of weapons to Islamists in Lybia as well as Mali and other African

    nations. Great success.

    In Iraq, on Bush

    Jr.’s orders and with complete GOP and large Democrat backing, we bombed and
    invaded a country

    that had not attacked us or threatened to attack us and deposed another guy and

    created a similar ongoing chaos that has resulted in the destruction of the

    Christian population of Iraq. We are doing the

    same in Syria, a country that has not attacked us or
    threatened to attack

    us, by supporting the Islamists (on BO’s orders and with
    almost complete GOP

    and Democratic Establishment backing), who are destroying the Christian

    population there too, with our help.

    In Serbia, on Bill the Sexual Predator

    Clinton’s orders and the backing of the entire GOP and Democratic

    Establishment, we bombed to smithereens a nation

    that had not attacked us and approved a referendum that gave
    independence to

    Kosovo, now a Muslim state in the midst of Europe, from
    Serbia, a Christian

    nation, to which it had belonged for centuries. Now we dont like a referendum

    in Crimea. And now, under BO, again with almost total GOP and Democratic Party

    support, we want to “punish” Russia, a country that has not attacked

    us or threatened to attack us. Give us a break. Enough. Our country has bombed,
    invaded, and

    subverted and economically sanctioned sovereign countries for the last 50 years

    at the rate of one country every forty months. Enough.

    Instead, let

    us attend to our own borders, which are a joke, as millions of unauthorized

    people invade us; and let us focus on our other problems since we have a 17

    trillion debt and growing, and our inner cities are terrorized by a series of

    urban underclass gangs numbering in the

    thousands, mugging, trafficking in
    drugs, hooking teenage women into drugs and

    then prostituting them in vast sexual trafficking rings, stealing, vandalizing,

    graffiti writing, etc. . In Chicago alone, the Vice Lords gang, just one gang,

    numbers 70000 according to the Chicago Crime Commission. We don’t talk about

    all this?


    o •

  • bscook111

    Mr. Mead, you really need to start with an entirely different question: Should Putin be countered? Next question: If so, by whom? Next question: Why? Next question: What does the result look like? Please remember our geography, Canada and Mexico as neighbors and two oceans as buffers. You are smarter than this and you can do better.

    • ronadolph

      First question Yes! Second question by a coalition of European countries, particularly eastern block countries that still want to be free nations; supported directly by the people of free western Europe who wish themselves to remain free but, with help from the rest of the free world in terms of arms, training, financing etc. Third Question……….Why? Because there will always be people like Putin, Adolph Hitler, Stalin (or, as my dear departed grandfather used to say “There is always going to be a wolf in the woods”) and the practice of appeasement would only precipitate a new Reich. The result would look somewhat like what happened to Germany after perestroika where one community (west Germany) helped and embraced another community (east Germany). You are quite correct that America does not have a dog in this fight. Europe has gotten away with paying virtually nothing for the defense of their freedoms for 50 years. It is time for them to assume the mantle. But don’t be to quick to dismiss Latin America as potential adversaries. The level of anti-American zeal there is worse than it ever has been and with our porous southern border they could cause us quite a lot of grief from within.

  • birdonawire

    Ukraine is a basket case created by it’s 1%ers. But Ukraine does have an educated and very low paid industrial workforce that is much closer to Europe than China is. So there is hope if their political institutions can be reformed and pulled away from the grasp of the Oligarchs. But when the election is between the Chocolate King and the Gas Princess it doesn’t give one much confidence.

  • Tomasz Szumski

    In my opinion at the end of the day Ukrainian people will have to defend their country, I do not believe that US or EU will do anything but talk. Putin’s strategy is very obvious and it is like reheated dinner, we already had similar promises and speeches in the European history. Vide , Mr Chamberlain and annexation of Czechoslovakia. If not for Polish people stand against the aggression Hitler would had time to get whole Europe peace by peace.

    In this case the most effective strategy is to engage and support Ukrainian people both Russian and Ukrainian speakers and hit Putin where it hurts the most at his own background. Russian economy is Putin’s Achilles heel.

    By the way we are running an anonymous opinion network called ASON. All are welcome at .

  • Dmitry Feichtner

    What I find interesting is that everybody was silent as long as Putin was destroying
    the Russian civil society and depriving Russian citizens their freedoms one-by-one.
    Just like the world was sort of silent while Hitler was terrorizing Jews, socialists, gays in Germany.
    Now, that Putin built an authoritarian regime in Russia, he is stable to attack the neighbors
    and now everyone is talking.
    The analysis in the article is very good, and it mentions the point of West being
    late and never really having a coherent Russia strategy.

    … if any good came out of this now, is that people in western democracies
    finally get a taste of what Putin is really like; something which the pro-western
    Russians learned over the last 10 years, the hard way.

  • mcamello

    I would suggest and strongly recommend that the U.S. along with the E.U. and NATO to put in place their solid warfare defenses in every border west and north of Ukraine by placing ICBMs and sufficient armed personnel. The purpose is to let Putin understand that any further incursion in Ukraine will not be tolerated. Let further Putin understand that it is a response to the building of Russia’s army encampment east of Ukraine. Assure Putin for his consolation that the U.S. and its allies will not pull a trigger unless Putin’s Army and his gangsters in Ukraine will fire the first salvo.

    I believe, with the above strategy, Putin will be forced to take away his soldiers and armaments east of Ukraine.

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