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Syria and Ukraine
Is Obama Waking Up?

The difference so far between the United States and Russia in both Syria and Ukraine: The United States talks while Russia acts. Compare the headlines of two well-sourced front page New York Times stories from today:

U.S. Scolds Russia as It Weighs Options on Syrian War


Russia to Release Loan Money for Ukraine, Lifting Leader

This has not been working well for us. One can only hope that at some point President Obama decides to change course. It seems clear that the strong pressure inside the Administration against the President’s chosen policy mix continues and has gained force as it becomes less and less possible to pretend that the “partnership with Russia” is anything but a sham.

The pressure for a deep rethink of foreign policy in the White House must be mounting. According to this Wall Street Journal story, a rethink of sorts seems to be underway for Syria at least. We’ll see if after three years of delay and mixed signals a real change is in the cards. The dithering up to this point has succeeded in making all the alternatives look pretty bad, though we think that almost any change at this point would be for the better.

President Obama took some criticism, unfair in our view, for playing golf over the holiday. We hope he had a good game and that the relaxation cleared his head. He’s got a lot to think about and some important decisions to make—and we need to hope that he gets them right.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    He could start by firing Kerry who is saying that “Global Warming” (for which there is no evidence) is the same as Nuclear bombs (what a moron). But I doubt the leftist Obama is going to make any changes or decisions which would lead to actions of any kind.

    • Loader2000

      There is plenty of evidence for global warming (over the last 160 years). There isn’t, however, conclusive evidence that we are causing it, or that it isn’t part of some natural cycle.

      • Thirdsyphon

        That’s an excellent point, and I agree. . . but I find that possibility even more disturbing than the conventional wisdom. Whether humanity is causing the climate changes we’re observing or not, we’re still going to suffer for it. If humanity’s responsible for what’s going on, then we theoretically have the power to reverse it; but if what we’re seeing is the result of a natural cycle (perhaps global volcanic activity has been unusually low for the last few centuries; or maybe the “modern maximum” period of sunspot activity is responsible) then we’re just plain out of luck.

        • Jim__L


          I’m still not convinced that a longer growing season over the land masses of the northern hemisphere (in particular, pushing up into the boreal regions where fresh water is plentiful) would be altogether a bad thing.

          Would people have to migrate? Sure. But speaking as someone who lives thousands of miles from the bones of his great-grandfathers, I see this as unfortunate but not tragic.

  • Thirdsyphon

    What are the “right” decisions for America on Syria and Ukraine? The former is an intractable battle between al-Qaida franchises and war criminals (which is why we steered clear of it in the first place), and the latter is a struggle for influence between Russia and the EU over a nation that seems genuinely divided over where its true sympathies lie.

    There’s no public support for a military intervention in Syria, and there’s just as little for spending $20 billion or so to help the EU outbid Vladimir Putin for the affections of a Ukranian government that’s been favoring him all along.

    The Cold War is over, and has been for more than 20 years. This fact has two relevant implications for today’s discussion:

    1) The U.S. no longer has an inherent foreign policy interest in opposing everything Russia does for its own sake; and

    2) The U.S. no longer has the necessary strength, relative to other nations, to simultaneously influence events in every corner of the world.

  • Richard T

    Most politicians think they can change reality just by saying that it has changed. Obama thinks he can change it by saying it will soon change. An improvement, but not a big one.

    For lawyers, talk *is* action. The alert reader will be mindful that neither Reagan nor Thatcher, who really did cause some changes in their respective countries, had been trained as lawyers. The alert reader will also be mindful that China is run largely by people who were trained as engineers.

    • Jim__L

      Jimmy Carter… Herbert Hoover… Engineers might be best off sticking to engineering.

  • free_agent

    We’ll know Obama is getting serious when the late-night delivery of extra-long baguettes start arriving!

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