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Published on: February 28, 2014
The Battle for Ukraine
Red Lines In Crimea

President Putin is making his move in Ukraine’s Crimea, and once again the West is caught flat-footed.

President Obama stepped up to the podium twenty minutes after the announced time for his talk and gave a short, sharply worded but ultimately vague statement on what looks like a growing and intentional Russian military presence in Crimea.

We shall see how things work out, but at first glance President Putin appears to have stolen yet another march on the sputtering West. As I wrote last week, Putin was under pressure to act quickly and run risks; not for the first time, complacent and unobservant Western leaders underestimated Russian decisiveness and determination to surprise. Washington in particular appears to have been caught flat-footed by Russian moves, and even as Kremlin forces fan out across the restive province, President Obama seemed unsure just what Putin intends.

One can already hear a chorus of people discussing Russia’s Crimean move in the terms people used to describe Hitler’s move into the Rhineland. The Germans are only going into their own back garden, said Britain’s Lord Lothian. George Bernard Shaw told the public that it was like the British moving into Portsmouth. Crimea is historically and culturally more a part of Russia than anything else, we are told. It’s a long way from the United States and what happens there doesn’t really matter very much.

While President Obama is unlikely to take the Bernard Shaw line, he now faces a genuinely difficult moment in the troubled course of his second term foreign policy. Two of the President’s highest goals—progress on nuclear arms control in general and a peaceful end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions—depend in large part on Russia’s willingness to act as an American partner. Just as his Syria strategy (talks at Geneva to prepare a political transition) fell horribly flat when the Russians backed away, his Iran and nuclear strategies would face some very rough sledding if Russia’s promises of help prove hollow.

A key to the President’s foreign policy is that he’s tried to avoid what he dismissively calls ‘geopolitical chess games’. He wants to separate questions like Iran’s drive in Syria from the question of Iran’s nuclear program. If possible, he probably wants to segregate Crimea from what he sees as his broader and more important agenda with Russia.

The question is whether Putin will let him. At AI, our concern has always been that Putin sees the United States as an opponent in a zero sum contest, not a partner in a quest for win-win. Putin sees the American faith in win-win solutions as a long line of Russian negotiators back to czarist times have done: as an irritating though occasionally useful blend of hypocrisy and fecklessness. We worry that Putin sees Obama’s effort to keep bargaining in good faith over Syria, Iran and now perhaps Crimea as a weakness to be exploited, not a foundation for mutual trust and cooperation. Putin, we suspect, wants President Obama’s prestige damaged, and for American foreign policy to endure one setback and humiliation after another. He will happily play Lucy as long as President Obama is willing to play Charlie Brown and run at the football Lucy holds.

At the moment, Putin is doing very well in Ukraine. Clueless arrogance by both US and EU policymakers gave Putin a heaven-sent opportunity to block a worst-case scenario for Russia in Ukraine last fall. Then-President Yanukovych, a man of the east long associated with Russia, was moving toward signing an Association Agreement with the EU that offered a historic opportunity for a united Ukraine to move firmly west. But both Washington and the EU underestimated Putin’s determination to block that outcome and failed to ensure that Yanukovych went all the way.  Putin seized the opportunity and with a combination of official and perhaps unofficial, more personal incentives, was able to keep Yanukovych from finalizing the deal.

Yanukovych’s obvious yielding to Moscow’s blandishments touched off the unrest that would ultimately bring him down and set the current crisis afoot. When pro-European street protesters overthrew Yanukovych, there were plenty of Western analysts (some, unfortunately, working for governments) who drew the comforting but deeply false conclusion that these events represented a triumph of the West. Instead, the revolution (Kiev’s third since 1990), unleashed the chaos that gave Putin his chance for his Crimean gambit. Now Putin seems to be seizing the most important military assets Russia holds in the country and can reasonably hope to increase Russia’s influence throughout the country as a weak government struggles with intractable problems. Meanwhile, he is probably licking his chops over the unpalatable choices Western statesmen now face. If the West doesn’t ship billions of dollars to Ukraine, the current government will fail and national unity will fray. If the West comes across with the dough, Putin has a number possibilities for working the situation to his benefit. He can, for example, raise the natural gas price to a Ukraine flush with Western aid dollars, or demand repayment of Ukraine’s existing debts to Moscow, transferring Western aid money into Russian pockets.

We’ll have to see, but without a sharp turn, neither President Obama nor his chief European partner Chancellor Merkel will do anything but seek to defuse the crisis as quickly and painlessly as possible. If Putin offers a face-saving solution that leaves him with some visible gains in exchange for some mostly cosmetic concessions, they will have a hard time saying no even as they wrestle with the ugly financial and political arithmetic that a Ukrainian bailout involves.

If that is how this crisis winds up, the West, the United States and President Obama himself will all have been significantly undermined, and both President Putin and Russia will emerge looking more potent than before. This is exactly what Putin wants, and if he succeeds it will feed his contempt for Western leaders and encourage him to look elsewhere for new surprises and new wins.

None of this should blind us to the sterility of Putin’s foreign policy agenda. Russia cannot recreate the old Soviet Union; it is so poor that it cannot afford the cost of carrying the weak republics that once formed the USSR. 200 years ago, Napoleon was fighting one of his most brilliant campaigns against the allied armies invading Paris. The stupidity of his opponents and his own genius allowed Napoleon to rack up win after win, but his armies were too small and his country too weary for these battlefield triumphs to change the course of fate. Robert E. Lee’s brilliant generalship couldn’t offset the North’s crushing superiority as the Civil War ground towards its close. Putin’s battle with history seems equally fated, but he can do a lot of damage as he rages against the dying of the light.

Jimmy Carter’s policy toward the Soviet Union turned 180 degrees when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan convinced him that Brezhnev wanted to play zero sum, not win-win. Judging from his speech this afternoon, President Obama still hopes to be spared such a turnaround and in any case he (rightly) resists the idea that this is somehow a return to the Cold War. Charlie Brown would rather take another run at the football than risk an open quarrel with Lucy; we will see how well that works out.

show comments
  • Pete

    And if Putin takes the Crimea, how is that a loss for the U.S.?

    I fear the real problem is that our foreign affairs ‘experts,’ both in government AND those safely ensconced in universities, are not nearly as expert they imagine themselves to be. They trade not in insights but hot air.

    • dfooter

      It is not the real estate, it is the fact that no one will see the US as a credible partner and will make arrangements on their own with powers hostile to us, which will impact us in areas that are crucial to our interests. The Rhineland, Austria and Sudetenland were not losses for France and Britain, but their perceived weakness in standing up to Hitler prevented a West/East deal with the Soviet Union which might have been a game changer. Directly as a result of that perceived weakness on the part of the West, Stalin made a deal with Hitler that ensured World War II.

      Weakness and fecklessness by Obama and Kerry will lead to undesirable results like the nuclear arming of Saudi Arabia and Japan, potential allies like the Southeast Asian countries making arrangements with China that encourage its quest to recapture Taiwan, Iranian encouragement to foment Shi’ite rebellions in our Gulf Arab allies, etc. etc. Nothing happens in a vacuum, please rid yourself of the American disease of looking at the short term and focus on the medium term and long term if you want to have a credible opinion.

      • Pete

        “…no one will see the US as a credible partner.”

        Too often, being a ‘;credible partner’ meant that the U.S.is expected to fight & die for you and pay for your defense while in turn you do nothing for America.

        Those days are ending.

        • Crutch

          So is a stable world. Result will be nukes, terrorists and bloodshed. Thanks for playing your short-sighted game. Unfortunately, China and Russia have stronger leaders ( They do not lead from behind.) and a much longer game plan.

        • dfooter

          Perhaps. But we have interests, and sometimes those interests are worth defending militarily. Of course diplomacy is a far better way of dealing with adversaries, but it can only be successful when there is a credible threat of action should it fail. When everyone believes there is no credible threat of action, as is the case now, diplomacy fails, and we have to go to war. If you want peace, prepare for war.

      • http://alsbach-art.com/ Floyd Alsbach

        I agree with the overall direction of your point, however you said; “The Rhineland, Austria and Sudetenland were not losses for France and
        Britain, but their perceived weakness in standing up to Hitler prevented
        a West/East deal with the Soviet Union which might have been a game
        changer.” Didn’t Stalin rather enthusiastically pursue a deal with Hitler and wasn’t he rather deeply disappointed and surprised when Hitler attacked? I’m not saying the West couldn’t have done far more earlier to prevent WW2, just saying that Stalin desired an alliance with Hitler, and that it was in his strategic, geographic and political interest (political given that they were both dictatorial Socialist powers) to do so. Also don’t forget the non-aggression pact Stalin already had with Japan.

        ANyhow… my intuition is that this Ukrainian problem is in some ways similar to the unrest in Serbia etc. prior to WW1 as much as it calls to mind the lead up to WW2. Either way it is a very serious problem for the West as a whole. Also in my view Europe needs to be urged to pull their own darn weight in this… Western European weakness is a huge problem long term.

        • dfooter

          Stalin did not desire an alliance with Hitler, he preferred one with the West, and had his foreign minister at the time, Litinov (who was biased towards the West), negotiate with France and Britain. After the betrayal of Munich, he saw them as weak and unwilling to to do a real deal and fired Litinov, appointing Molotov who had no scruples. It was Munich and the weakness that it showed that led him to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. The Pact was done to give the USSR some breathing room before the inevitable war with Germany. Stalin was surprised by Barbarossa because he thought he had more time, nothing else.

          As for the Japan Non-Aggression Pact, it was done because Stalin knew he would go to war with Germany and wanted to secure his Asian border. And that agreement was done from a position of strength due to the USSR’s victory over Japan at Nomonhan.

    • Andrew Allison

      Loss of the Crimea is meaningless to the US unless the US commits to preventing it. Oops, too late. As you point out, our foreign policy has devolved from the national interest to hot air.

    • danram

      Because if he takes the Crimea and there’s no pushback from the west, do you seriously think he’ll stop there?

      Read your history, Pete. Specifically, your pre-World War II history.

      • Pete

        So what are you going to do, send in the Marines.

        Get over it. The Crimea is in Russia’s back yard. And besides, the American public doesn’t give a damn about the Ukraine. Its focus is on jobs and the economy, not keeping the Ukraine in one piece. —- regardless of what Chamberlain did in.the late 1930s.

  • rheddles

    Once again he has chosen dishonour. He leaves war for his successor. The comparison is not Carter; Buchanan in every sense.

  • Andrew Allison

    Another day, another meaningless Red Line.

    • Tomas Pajaros

      hey – he’s not even pretending to draw “red lines” any more. Watered down now to “there will be costs” and “America will stand with the international community”
      whatajoke

      • FreedomRings_CA

        ‘whatajoke’ = spot-on epitaph for the current occupant of the o-office.

      • Common_Sense_Post

        Sir, are you suggesting the noble French will shrink from doing the right thing just to avoid conflict!? I think Obama is right to stand with such brave regimes like the French. We are sure to get justice and a good outcome for all. Putin knows this and will surely pull back from his military incursion into the Crimea at any moment!

  • Anthony

    “Rather than push against the public desire to withdraw from the world, Obama has encouraged it” – Robert Kagan, The Ambivalent Superpower.

  • Jim__L

    Well, here’s the question: even if he won’t be a superpower any time soon, are Putin’s moves going to make Russia stronger next year than this year, or the opposite?

    Warm-water ports, buffer states, exposing the EU and the current US administration for the feckless idiots they are — these all have long-term consequences, and Russia is better off having these than not.

    • danram

      Putin clearly wants, above all else, to reconstitute the old Soviet Union. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of history should readily grasp why this would be a very bad thing for the US and the rest of the world.

      Unfortunately, our “Community Organizer-In-Chief” may not possess such an understanding.

  • Abdel Boughazi

    Insouciant Americans are paying no attention and have no idea that a handful of neoconservative ideologues are pushing the world toward destruction. The Russian strategists conclude that they “consider the situation taking shape in Ukraine to be catastrophic for the future of Russia.”

    What are Russia’s real options !!? Certainly the options do not include any good will from Washington.

    – A “wait and see” approach is also not a very attractive option for Moscow –Will the bear STRIKE !!?

  • S.C. Schwarz

    Putin sees Obama for what he is: a hopeless fool who should never have been president. After Ukraine falls the rest of Eastern Europe will understand that there will be no help from the US much less the laughable EU and they will understand that they must, once again, bend their knee to Russia.

    It didn’t take the liberals that long to undo Reagan’s work, did it?

    • Christopher Rojas

      Shut up you dumb idiot. Obama should be president, because he beat the crap out of the conservative nominees twice. This is not the cold war, and the American people adamantly do not want any military intervention, which limits the president’s choices very much.

      • S.C. Schwarz

        You may think it’s not the Cold War, and Obama may think, or wish, it’s not the Cold War, but, sadly, what matters is what Putin thinks.

      • rentthis

        foreign policy strengths had nothing to do with Obama being elected or re-elected.

      • jcambro1

        Speak for yourself pal. I think America’s young people would benefit greatly by serving in a major war with Russia. We need an enemy that is easy to shoot at. And now that I am too old and out of shape to fight myself, I say – ATTACK!

        • Wayne Fritzman

          Don’t sell yourself short, we could still use you for cannon fodder.

          • jcambro1

            Sorry. I will be needed here at home to maintain the nation’s demand for beer. But we could send some community organizers to walk out into mine fields.

          • Wayne Fritzman

            Cmon coward, if your so eager to send those younger than you to die you can do it too. You don’t seem too bright, we won’t miss you.

        • S.C. Schwarz

          The point of diplomacy is to have influence with fighting. If you don’t squander that influence by drawing red lines you have no intention of honoring.

        • FreedomRings_CA

          Wow, you inspire me.

          Now where did I put my gun ? :0)

      • large

        Lessee, who should we fear? The idiots that elected this inept abomination twice or Putin and the Russians . . ?

        I fear O’Bozo and his Racist minions . . But the Russians and the rest of the world are certainly laughing at the US today . . . A wonderful Foreign Policy Agenda . . Up until this week, a Siberian Tiger was known to be the Biggest Pu$$y in the world . .

      • sprinter1104 .

        Dumb idiot, really? That’s a well constructed argument.

      • Henrick

        It’s you who must shut up! So Obama won twice….what’s the big deal, bozo? The big deal is that he sucks at governing…he failed in almost all fronts of his policies including foreign policy. The reckless Putin is like a bully kid taunting the wimpy Obama.

      • jonodough

        It’s easy to win a second term when the voters are dead, animals, illegals, are part of the 47 percent moochers, and the voting machines are fixed. And by the way…fu.

      • hyphenatedamerican

        Chris, don’t forget that IRS helped Obama to n the second time.

      • FreedomRings_CA

        Oh, Mr. Rojas.
        If you think what the American people want will have any impact of whatever decisions President Obama will be making on this situation, you are exactly right.

        If Obama sees his options as severely “limited” (because any sort of military intervention that involves “boots on the ground” is a non-starter in his “reasoned” estimation), in order to stop Putin’s expansion into Crimea (and eventually, the rest of Eastern Europe), Mr. Obama ‘s response will either be to do nothing (not acceptable to anyone) or an over-the-top extreme that would make the release of chemical agents in Syria a kneeslap in comparison.

        Why is this possible ?

        Because that is what weak men do when faced with failure and humiliation. They over-react. They “up the ante”. They “double-down”.

        In other words, they do the one thing guaranteed to make a bad situation worse.

      • ahorvath

        What about the Budapest Memorandum signed by President Clinton in 1994 along with Russia, UK and Ukraine which guarantees Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Have you learned nothing from the 1930’s.

      • Common_Sense_Post

        Your ilk are shameful! Just because he fooled or bribed the likes of you to vote for him does not mean he is effective. Indeed, he represents your values so he is lazy, ignorant and ineffective. Thanks for putting that burden on us. Just makes it that much harder to fund your welfare lifestyle. Well done, ese!

      • Joanne

        You sure are right; Obama is nothing if not good at winning elections. He spent 3 minutes at the podium on this issue and 33 minutes giving a speech at the DNC.

      • wyseeit

        Obama the gift that keeps on giving. How is the reset working for you. About as well as the open hand to Iran. As Americans were foolish enough to elect this fool twice, they deserve to get their noses rubbed in the dirt by Putin.

      • forgetyoutooo

        You are a bad boy! You will not get an allowance, if you keep it up! Shame on you! You deserve a time out! Now YOU know how threatened Putin feels and why he is laughing in the faces of your god – the community agitator and his ketchup boy Lurch Heinz’s faces.

      • Buck Ofama

        Chrissie: shut the fvck up, you silly cvnt. Now, go back to wanking yourself to your collection of slimy faded OVOMIT posters.

      • 10th Amendment is the Solution

        Chis,

        Your bitterness further illustrates the heartbreak on the LEFT as their (your) leader continues to fail.

        Think back to 2008 and all the HOPE you had. Back then you had a vision of 2014 and it looked nothing like the reality of today.

        …save your reply blaming the R’s. Mr. Clinton recognized that to get things done he had to bargain. Unfortunately Barry insists on working only with his pen and his phone.

        He would have been smart if, immediately following his re-election, he’d have called Bill to get some pointers.

        Sorry that BO has let you down. ….but I have to admit he talks a good game (on the domestic front that is).

        • 10th Amendment is the Solution

          Chris,
          People on the Left (you) are not Americans. Leftist ideology is entirely out of line with what this country is all about.

    • kenpuck

      Obama has done his share to contribute to this denouement with his
      ceaseless braggadocio. His “red lines” are now an institutional joke at
      NATO. He is the polar opposite of Teddy Roosevelt (“Speak softly and
      carry a big stick”).

  • circleglider

    “We shall see,” “at first glance,” “appears,” “seems…”

    Is this supposed to be critical commentary or just more text for Obama’s teleprompter?

  • BobSykes

    We are in the bizarre world where Putin is supporting the legitimate, freely and democratically elected government, and the US and EU are supporting fascist thugs who violently overthrew that government.

    We are the bad guys here.

    Again, consider: Serbia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria–all Russian allies– and Ukraine–part of Russia’s historical homeland. Does Putin see a pattern, a pattern of aggressive war? Is our leadership too corrupt and too stupid to realize that someone might infer intent from this pattern?

    • Crutch

      You actually believe Obama conducts a competent foreign policy. Clearly you are insane.

      • BobSykes

        I don’t think his foreign policy is competent. How could setting the stage for WWIII be competent.

        Obama is delusional. He is culturally, economically, historically and scientifically illiterate, and his Ukrainian adventure proves all of that. What we have as President is a brainwashed ideologue who can’t see 24 hours ahead, and who can’t realize that other powers have interests they will defend.

  • Fred

    Does anybody really think President Gelding will do anything other than bloviate?

    • petegross

      ” president gelding” ! I like that. sorta sums up obama’s entire administration.

      of course obama could go on ” The View ” and say ” nanny nanny boo boo ” to Putin.

    • rampantlion

      Fred, I nearly spewed my coffee on my monitor. Good one! I was initially thinking President FUBAR, but I like yours better.

  • danram

    If Obama is seriously counting on Russian help to get rid of Iran’s nuclear program, then he’s even dumber than I thought.

    • jonodough

      Every single action and words from obama are planned. This destruction of the us, the world was planned along time ago. Obama is a Muslim, Muslims hate the west and they hate everyone who isn’t a Muslim. A Muslims sole purpose is to kill everyone and everything west. That is obama.

    • kenpuck

      No, he really is that dumb.

  • Crutch

    Anyone else want to step back a recognize that Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State created almost all the conditions resulting in Ukraine’s takeover? She is/was incompetent..

    • large

      For every “Inaction”, there’s a “Reaction” . . Everybody knows that . . Now . . .

      Or should . . .

    • Common_Sense_Post

      Nah, she will skate on this. Apparently 51% of the people in this country are stupid and ignorant. The will not even know she was secretary of state, let alone to blame for any of this.

    • jaytrain

      It is past time for the R’s to hang this and all the rest , Benghazi , Syria , Morsi, Chavez/Maduro , on Hilary . Take her out early and hard . Learn from the Obama play book as he so effectively did to Romney

  • Winston Smith

    It’s hard not to root for Putin when he is so thoroughly kicking Barry’s skinning as_. Maybe we should send Big Momma Mochelle over there to handle the Bear.

  • bscook111

    In their heart of hearts the Russian wants to be boss of his greater geographical region, and Putin is their man in that regard. Russia also sees Anglo FP since the fall of the USSR far differently than we do. They are not impressed with our corruption and incompetence any more than we were/are theirs. In the end WRMs analysis of Russia is correct. The Russian never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Long term Russia is still joined to the west. Someone one day will take the next step from Peter’s beginnings 400+ years ago. In the short term though Russia will be a neighborhood bully. Return of Crimea to the Russian federation seems a foregone conclusion. Finally, Russia still has 2 eternal fears: Germany and China.

  • lhfry

    “Those ages which in retrospect seem most peaceful were least in search of peace. Those whose quest for it seems unending appear least able to achieve tranquillity. Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective . . . the international system has been at the mercy of [its] most ruthless member.”

    Henry Kissenger, as quoted by Niall Ferguson in the WSJ – http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303945704579391492993958448?mod=trending_now_3

    It is important not to forget that the left has always viewed the US as morally equivalent (if not lesser) than its enemies. That world view motivates Obama and explains why he will never effectively use US power. It would only compound the errors of the past. He has even said we can’t be the world’s policeman. So who will do it then? Looks like Mr. Putin is willing – but the “policeman” will be a corrupt thug.

  • Arkeygeezer

    I submit that it is the most natural thing in the world for a government to move to secure its military bases in foreign lands, and to preserve civil law and order. Russia has moved to protect its base in Crimea, as the U.S. did to protect its base in Cuba.

    Russia has been invited into Crimea by the Crimean government. The average Crimean citizen wants peaceful law and order, not the chaos seen in Kiev and the nearby Middle East.

    The U.S. has done enough to promote chaos and civil disorder around the world. Back off and let more reasonable governments handle their own affairs.

    • rentthis

      “Russia has been invited into Crimea by the Crimean government”

      If that is in fact the case, you make an excellent point.

      • StoutCortez

        When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1980, they claimed the Afghan government asked them to do so.

  • Dan Wafford

    Oh, to have a man with Kennedy’s courage in the White House again.

    • Samuel Adams

      Agree– for all his other issues–Kennedy and his generation had truly “seen the elephant” and did not get caught up in the naive equivalence exercises that we see today.

    • ptm

      Don’t forget Reagan!

    • mikekelley10

      Oh but we do, but it’s Teddy not JFK.

  • Samuel Adams

    The comment on “geopolitical chess games” says it all. Memo to White House…this is a chess game. And sorry to mix metaphors, but by making that statement, you’ve merely written “fish” on your forehead, to the benefit of the others at the poker table.

    Unfortunately, we’ve run through the last of the hard nosed realpolitik types that understood this and are left with choices between feckless amateurs like Obama and pie in the sky neo-cons that want to make good little Americans out of Afghanis.

    • rampantlion

      Putin plays chess.
      Obama plays golf.

      • mikekelley10

        Well played, rampantlion.

  • Melissa Lanza

    Obama’s domestic policy is a total failure…it’s really no surprise that his foreign policy is a total failure as well.

    • jonodough

      The damage is going to take a very long time to heal on every level.

  • petegross

    So who to blame for this sorry state of affairs. While there are many who can share in the blame there is one group that stands out.

    Its the moronic low info voters who put this incompetent narcissist in the White House and then reelected him. What were they thinking? Really! He had never done anything of consequence before and , even as a congressman, he voted present most of the time. Among his other bad traits he is lazy.

    So we are finding out votes matter. My condolences to those who had enough sense to NOT vote for the incompetent narcissist. To those who voted for him, you deserve what you are getting.

    Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

  • jimb82

    I’m surprised WRM didn’t pick up on the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which President Clinton and Prime Minister Major pledged to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine if it gave up its nuclear weapons (and Boris Yeltsin, on behalf of Russia, also pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity). Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2570335/Former-British-Ambassador-Moscow-warns-Russia-invaded-Ukraine-difficult-avoid-going-war.html

    Even more embarrassingly for the Administration, Sarah Palin warned that this was going to happen. http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2008/10/22/russia_might_invade_ukraine_if_obama_wins_palin_warns

    Tip to Ace of Spades HQ. http://ace.mu.nu/

    • BobSykes

      There is plenty of blame to go around and plenty of dirty dealing on all sides.

      Earlier, the US, NATO and the EU promised the USSR that if Germany were allowed to reunite NATO would not expand into Central Europe or the Baltic. Once the USSR collapsed, they threw away that agreement and brought into NATO several former Warsaw Pact countries.

  • jcambro1

    Obama is far from powerless on this one. The US has initiated a plan for an escalating series of actions against Russia in the event they attempt a full scale invasion of the Ukraine.

    First, Obama has threatened to derail the Russian economy and throw millions of Russians out of their workforce. State Department sources noted that Putin saw how easily President Obama was able to do this to the larger American economy and he takes the threat seriously.

    But if Putin presses forward, Obama has threatened to send Obamacare to Russia. Naturally, Russians have not seen suffering on that level since WWII. IRS troops from the Cincinnati Field Office are ready for deployment as well.

    At this stage, the president is so serious about all this that he has even suggested he might cut short his golf vacation and take the drastic step of sending Secretary of State John Kerry to Russia, where he would launch a series of droll and self-important sounding speeches. The last time Kerry’s voice was broadcast on Russian TV, the stray dogs of Sochi began to howl and Russian Troops abandoned their posts and returned to drinking large amounts of anti-freeze and cheap Bulgarian perfume.

    Personally, I sleep better at night during these crises, knowing who’s in charge. (Oprah Winfrey of course.)

    • ThomasD

      Oprah can go on The View and talk about Russian racism, like the time she went into a Moscow jewelry shop to buy a Faberge egg and wasn’t treated like a princess.

      • Buck Ofama

        A fvckin niggnernamous.

    • Black_Saint

      The World listens with bated Breath when Dear Leader speaks.. I am sure Putin is quaking in his boots…His Bowels run loose due to Dear Leaders strong words!

      Never have we had a President as Respected, Liked, or Trusted by other world leaders as Dear Leader he is The One!

  • mkegino

    Look at the rust inside the barrel of that Russian’s rifle. The USMC would wipe the floor with those drunken excuses for special operators.

    • large

      Yeah, BUT . . because of the current ineptocracy, we can’t get a Marine over there and he’d have nothing to shoot at the Russian with if he did !

      • Tater

        AND, all of the Corpsemen are busy in Afghanistan.

  • jcambro1

    President “The cost of Arugula is too damned high” vs. a former KGB agent who wrestles bears….Hmmmm. We lose.

  • tantorsea7

    Let us see, in the last fifty years we have attacked or invaded Panama, Iraq, Lybia, Syria, Serbia (did I miss some?)…and we are sooo concerned that Russia may invade Crimea, which is in its backyard so to speak, like Mexico is to us. What lack of perspective!

    • large

      Hey dipstick, there’s nobody up here “drawing lines” or threatening “Dire Consequences” . .

      I believe it’s the “Laughingstock of the World” and “Liar in Chief” . .

    • OBUMYA

      Sweetie…take your head out of your arse. You not only will see reality, it will give you a better…perspective. Let me guess, never read about carter in 1978 did you? Still think Clinton ignoring the first tower bombing and thinking this was a police action had NOTHING to do with 9/11? Still want to tell me that we are the aggressors for purposes of expansion…unlike Putin who is simply strolling into Crimea to advance social works and park improvement? The reason the world is so ucked fuped is because of morons who like Obama and Hillary and Kerry and Biden and Hagel think if we simply hit the rest button enough, things will be different. I wont bother reminding you of the definition of insanity…you libs live it every single day of your pathetic lives.

    • the_iowa_hawkeye

      Which of those countries you listed do we now occupy? There is a difference between attacking and punishing a rouge nation and conquering, permanently, a nation for geo-political purposes.

    • StoutCortez

      “Did I miss some?”

      Don’t forget the tens of thousands of Americans who died on the beaches of Grenada in a virtual repeat of D-Day, 1944!

      So that we could steal their oil . . . or something.

      Pay no attention to that now-free nation in the Caribbean.

  • jcambro1

    Everyone knows that a thuggish Russian strongman would never kill helpless Ukrainians! Jeez people! Learn your Russian history!

  • OBUMYA

    and the difference between Carter and Obama is what again?

    • Tater

      Hawvard.

    • EM10

      Carter was misguided and haplessly incompetent.
      Obama knows full well what he is doing.

      • Heza Nidiot

        Gotta disagree there. Uuhhhbama wouldn’t even know how to tie his shoelaces if Michelle wasn’t around to show him how it’s done. Outside the private quarters, Jarrett’s the dangerous one; he merely repeats what she feeds into the ‘Prompter. What surprises here is that Putin hasn’t already laughed in his face and said, “sorry, I don’t deal with frauds. Send Jarrett over, and then maybe we’ll talk.”

        • rampantlion

          It is a sad day when we are bickering over:
          1) Our president is completely incompetent, which explains his actions;
          2) No one could be that stupid, so it must be part of some grand scheme.

      • disqus_59KZkHgegx

        Obama is a narcissistic “legend in his own mind.” He fancies himself as a messianic figure who is therefore entitled to ignore all political and economic realities than we mortals must always respect.

    • ptm

      At the very end Carter recognized the error of his ways, this guy is so arrogant as he said many times “I can’t think of ANY errors I’ve made!”

  • Grump the Conservative

    Obama, in the wonderfully descriptive words of Dr Krauthammer – The flaccid President.

  • rlhailssrpe

    The world has seen this play before. It ends with slaughter and devastation. It continues to be played out, after the break up of the USSR along its collapsed southern regions, with new borders, Afghanistan, Georgia, Chechnya, and now the Ukraine. A political rebellion is followed by armed groups with no insignias who take over the arteries of transportation, followed by overt Russian military action to regain lost colonies/ territories, followed by horror. Weakened Russia is incapable of holding against chronic opposition and both sides descend into unending savagery. Economic collapse and unburied dead are certain. America secretly arms the rebels then regrets when they turn the good ones on us.

    Mr. Putin must accept that some people prefer not to live under his boot. He must accept they frown on their big shot either living high amidst their starvation, or in his country. Everybody must accept that the Crimea is soaked with blood from centuries of battles, due to its unfortunate characteristics, a strategic location and weak military.

    Russia faces a decision; either return to Stalin’s butchery, or deal with disagreeable neighbors. The US should send body bags to both sides. Russia and the US have a common interest, staying alive in an atomic age, which trumps this little Ukrainian contretemps. Cool it guys.

  • ConstanceUnderfoot

    Obama talks about “red lines.” Putin moves them around the Crimea.

    This is the world created when Community Oranizers are expected to be real world leaders.

  • Lafango

    As they say in Chicago, “It’s a Miller Time” for Barack.

    There’s no crisis or conflict that can not be resolved over a beer summit with Barack.

    Also, that stupid beetch, Sarah Palin, was RIGHT in 2008.
    The lapdog media was dumpster diving in Alaska in 2008 when a mile high dirt pile was quite visible in Chicago.

    I bet America still can’t see who’s looking smarter now and who is the dumber one!

  • royw

    Guess Putin isn’t impressed with Obama’s community organizing, Nobel prize winning, guest lecturer, Harvard Law Review “qualifications.” And I am quite sure he isn’t mesmorized by Obama’s being “historical” as our first Affirmative Action president.

    Not to mention being awestruck by the crease in his trousers.

    Pity the American electorate was.

  • EM10

    Why the surprise, Prof. Mead?
    Putin views the demise of the Soviet Union as the “greatest tragedy” of the 20th Century.
    He is working tirelessly to re-establish it any way he can.
    Only American power and influence stand in his way.

    Pres. Obama for his part views US power in about the same way Putin does–
    as an irritant at best, and a source of conflict and instability at worst.
    He also has been working tirelessly to diminish US influence everywhere he can.

    Appointment of innumerable “czars” and ruling by diktat without a troublesome
    Congress also appeals to Mr. Obama and his ideological supporters.

    If Putin is trying to reestablish the USSR in Eurasia, his ally is Barack Obama,
    complicit in that project, and trying to establish his own version of the Soviet Union
    in former America.

  • retired_sandman

    More like a pink line. And I think Putin sent an hour of taped laughter to the white house.

    “We’ll think about maybe boycotting the G8…”. Is that a joke?

    Does anybody think Putin gives a second’s thought to Obama’s empty threats?

    Who would he rather face? Obama or Romney? Who would be more effective? If Reagan were in the White House, would he Putin be doing this?

    I just wish Obama would be as disparaging, threatening, and just plain mean to our adversaries as he is to ordinary americans. Then maybe we’d have a chance.

  • Vince Foster

    “We worry that Putin sees Obama’s effort to keep bargaining in good faith over Syria, Iran and now perhaps Crimea as a weakness to be exploited”

    “We Worry” no, we know absolutey for certain that Putin sees Obama as a capricious woman and exploits him as such.

    Putin was initially cautious but is growing bolder as western weakness is reinforced in his mind. Snowden was a push that allowed him to push a little farther in syria which in turn allowed him to push farther into the crimea which will allow him to push farther into ukraine then belarus then the baltic states and it will never end until he is stopped with force.

  • retired_sandman

    Would somebody please get president oblunder a tank and a pair of mickey mouse ears so he can ride around like Michael Dukakis…

    Thank You.

  • Kizar_Sozay

    Putin authorizes force hours after Obama draws another line in the sand. What are we to do now? Obama should do everything he did in Syria and more. Obama says this is a chess game and nothing more. I expect the media will pick up on this theme and the rest of us will be told we are too ignorant to understand the nuances. Obama is turning us into a second rate power on the way to being a third world nation. I feel fundamentally transformed.

    • retired_sandman

      Weakness encourages aggression. If we had recalled our ambassador from moscow for consultation and simultaneously warned russia to go no further, I doubt we’d be in the situation we are today. If Romney had been president, I doubt russia would have invaded. At this point it’s all in the category of: “what if Napoleon had a B52 at the Battle of Waterloo?”

  • danshanteal

    Does anyone know how much money we pour into the State Dept to get these crappy results? Too much to be sure. It goes way back and covers both the GOP and the donkeys. I watch the State press meetings and have to laugh at the chicks they send out to fluff back their hair while saying nothing. It’s like babes on parade. No wonder we have a failed Iraq, a murderous Benghazi, an upcoming al-Quida Afghanistan and now Ukraine.
    We got a bunch of weak sisters and not all them are female.

  • rampantlion

    Since so many of his warnings and ‘bold’ statements are counterproductive, Obama should have said to Putin: “If you like your Crimea you can keep your Crimea”.

    • retired_sandman

      At this point he de facto controls Crimea. The question now is all of the Ukraine and it’s looking increasingly awful for team usa.

      • rampantlion

        That Putin would do anything to protect his naval base at Sevastopol was highly predictable. Too bad our CIC is geopolitically inept.

        • Eburke9999

          And why shouldn’t the Russians? Would we protect our naval base in Cuba? Putin is not the bad guy here – the coup of a democratically elected president in Russia’s backyard was encouraged and pushed by the EU and US – I wouldn’t be surprised if western NGOs were big players behind it

          • rampantlion

            I think the difference, here, is that Putin understands we would do anything to defend Guantanamo, but Barry doesn’t, when it comes to Sevastopol (or Tartus, in Syria, for that matter). Sadly, his bungling has been making our friends and allies nervous, and our adversaries more adventurous.

          • Eburke9999

            But who are our friends? The French? The EU? Washington, D.C.? I can’t tell anymore – Putin could have been a great strategic partner and friend of America but McCain, the liberals, the neocons all doomed that. How about the Chinese or Islamic world –

          • jimb82

            I doubt that Obama would defend Guantanamo. He would see a Cuban takeover as a helpful way to solve a problem.

  • Eburke9999

    American Response to Ukrainian Crisis

    First of all, i am an American Patriot and anti-communist American nationalist before all else with the exception of our Lord. That said, the U.S. Government made a historical blunder with regard to Russia following 9-11. While not a fan of G W Bush, he was exactly right with regard to Putin in his first meeting with him – very positive and someone who is a friend of the U.S. Following 9-11, Putin allowed us to use former Soviet bases in the Caucus region to launch our 2001 Afghanistan invasion and provide a logistical staging ground to defeat the Taliban. This was an historic gesture of good will and friendship by Russia.

    Unfortunately, Bush’s national security team (including supposed Stanford educated “russian expert” Condolesa Rice), the state department, and the cadre of neo-conservatives both in and outside of his government made Bush walk back these comments and then went further – in gratitude for Putin and Russian meaningful military support, the American government , war mongering senators McCain and others, and the neoconservative media spit in his face. Rather than disbanding NATO following the Cold War with the imperialist Soviet Union (the primary U.S. Threat for 50 years), we expanded it to nationalist and once again Christian Russia’s ( potential friend and possible strong strategic allies to offset radical Islam, the growing totalitarian nature of the EU, and most importantly imperial China) borders, bypassed Russia in building oil pipelines in areas of russian near abroad rather than working with Russia in such deals, and generally undermining Russia both covertly and overtly through radical foundations and NGOs such as radicals like the misnamed “open society institute, the media and various arms of radically imperial western governments.

    Just think about the strength of an Anglo-Russian alliance and what that could have meant in the strategic protection of American, British and other Anglo-countries’ interests. Along with India, Japan and Israel what an incredible and impenetrable strategic alliance this could have been in surrounding the Middle East, a counterbalance to a growing imperialistic Brussels-run E.U. (Read Germany and especially France), and a very dangerous and expansionary China. This would have served American strategic interests for years to come in this new post cold-war world.

    However, due to American hubris more bent on interfering in affairs of others and the American government’s inability to change to a new world, we spurned Russia at every turn and made the greatest geostrategic blunder since bleeding American boys in Vietnam and not supporting our commitment to American interests and Cuban freedom fighters at the bay of pigs.

    We have now gone from one radical neoconservative imperialistic American government but at least in some ways pro-American U.S. Government to an ultra-radical Marxist anti-American government unwilling to protect our own interests and our own people abroad – Benghazi and the non-protection or response resulting in the death of 4 Americans (including our ambassador and courageous American special forces personnel) is merely the most blatant example.

    With all that said, once again we are in Russia’s face in giving covert and overt support to what was a coup by anti-Russian Ukrainian radicals over the democratically elected government of the Ukraine – what hypocrisy and stupidity. Through our arrogance Western and specifically American elite consistently fail to put themselves in other’s shoes; how would the American people react to the Chinese supporting and sending “military adviser” for an anti-American coup in Mexico. Would we tolerate that – the American people certainly wouldn’t but unfortunately can’t speak to the reaction of the anti-American radicals running our own government but that is beside the point.

    Bottom line is that we should at minimum stay completely neutral with regard to events in the Ukraine or even smarter openly condemn the Ukrainian coup. With such actions, maybe just maybe we could begin to patch up our relations with a strong potential strategic partner in Putin’s Russia – but good luck until the U.S. Elite Establishment in Washington is replaced by America First Patriots heeding Washington’s words of not entangling ourselves in permanent alliances but to looking out for America and it’s strategic interests narrowly defined.

    • jimb82

      I figured it wouldn’t take long for someone to figure out a way to blame it on Bush and make excuses for Obama.

    • FreedomRings_CA

      “Would we tolerate that – the American people certainly wouldn’t but
      unfortunately can’t speak to the reaction of the anti-American radicals
      running our own government but that is beside the point.”

      Your analysis of the situation in Ukraine and Russia may be spot-on. I’m not an expert in those countries or the political / economic / etc situation between them.

      But America’s role in all this is moot at this point – because of those same “anti-American radicals running our own government”. Which means Obama’s relationship with Putin is not “beside the point”. It is EXACTLY the point. In other words, Putin took advantage of the opportunity in Crimea precisely because of who is “leading” our government. He knew there would be no consequences. Thus, he took (and will take) what action he pleases without fear of interference from the Americans.

      On your overall theme, it is too late – at least for this administration.

      Putin might consider adopting Obama, but one doesn’t enter into partnerships with a lapdog, so I doubt Putin would be interested in yet another “reset”.

      • Eburke9999

        I agree but my argument goes further in saying the the entire us elite establishment has it all backwards – how could they have missed this historic opportunity to create a new balance of power post 2001 after Putin allowed for use of their bases. Russia was and is not the enemy – it’s the new world order totalitarianism embraced by Washington and Brussels

      • Eburke9999

        Agreed plus the western establishment continue to speak inthe same one dimensional thinking. The news media with the exception of one contrarian view on face the nation this morning is monolithic and pathetic. Not to mention you are correct with Obama and reset – whatever the heck that means. It’s also probably way to late as you state.

  • Arkeygeezer

    Consider:

    The Crimean Parlement has authorized the Crimean President to call on Russia for help to preserve order.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26397323

    The Russian Parlement has authorized the use of Russian troops in Crimea.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russian-parliament-approves-use-of-troops-in-crimea/2014/03/01/d1775f70-a151-11e3-a050-dc3322a94fa7_story.html

    The Russians are moving in to protect their military assets in Crimea.

    So, What do you want to do? Send in the Light Brigade for a rematch?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade_(poem)

  • AMR1960

    Obama’s message to the people of Ukraine… “If you want a free & independent Ukraine; you may keep it!

  • hyphenatedamerican

    I wonder how was sarah Palin able to predict in 2008 that if obama was elected, Putin would invade Ukraine? It’s like she is a foreign policy genius. She also predicted problems with obamacare.

  • Icepilot

    The realpolitik contrarian/unintended consequences argument:
    Russia (like the rest of the world, except China) is broke. Military empire is very expensive. How many 1st/2nd/3rd generation Russians, who are citizens of Ukraine, love their roots but hate Putin? How will the ethnic Tartars now living in their true homeland, respond to a Russian takeover?
    In the long run, the Crimea might be a very difficult pill for Vlad to swallow.

  • FreedomRings_CA

    “We worry that Putin sees Obama’s effort to keep bargaining in good faith
    over Syria, Iran and now perhaps Crimea as a weakness to be exploited,
    not a foundation for mutual trust and cooperation.”

    Worry no longer, Mr. Mead. That is precisely how Putin sees Obama – and for a very good reason.

    It is no accident the weakest, most ineffectual and clueless President in 100 years (since Wilson) occupies the Oval Office at the moment when Mr. Putin’s ambitions are made starkly manifest. It is BECAUSE Mr. Obama is President that Putin has chosen to take the blatant actions he has in Crimea.

    This cannot end well.

    If Putin continues uninterrupted with his plans for Crimea, disregarding anything our unimpressive and uncredible President might say (directly or through Kerry), Barack Obama is exactly the sort of fool who would take the situation to an extreme in order to make a point. Since he would be seeking to prove he is not a man to be taken lightly — and I have no doubt, he would cross any number of “red lines” to do so — I place no trust in Obama’s course of action being a “measured” response to Putin.

    How might this play out? For one, I suspect Mr. Obama may end up being the first person in the 21st century to drop a nuclear bomb on an “opposing” group. Not Iran or North Korea, but the United States of America, would then prove to be the most dangerous nuclear power on the planet today.

    A fitting legacy for such a silly man.

    Unfortunately, the rest of us will pay the price for such a silly, weak man.
    Which, too, is fitting, as the American People elected this fool – twice.

    • Eburke9999

      We probably agree on much but way too many people have a blind spot with regard to Putin – see my post below and stand in a russian’s shoes for a moment

    • StoutCortez

      I was with you until Obama drops a nuclear bomb. It is not in his constitution to use anything other than piddling force. My guess is, he talks tough for a bit, and then he and his media enablers try to “spin” some disastrous Ukraine outcome into gold. Remember. these are the people who tell us that high unemployment allows people to “pursue their dreams.”

      • FreedomRings_CA

        Maybe.

        But I find there is a deep distrust of this obama. For one thing, he has proven more apt to “double-down” at the most inappropriate times.

        And from his perspective, he doesn’t have to please the electorate again – he is done in 2017. This leaves him free to do what he wants without fearing he will lose the next election — and that is, in BO’s world, the most important calculation.

        So I place no reliance on his supposed “ideology” making the use of nuclear weapons a no-no. BO has already shown us numerous times how “sensitive” he is to criticism.

        If Putin ever showed Barack Obama in clear, unequivocal terms what he actually thinks of BO, I suspect there would be hell to pay.

  • mikekelley10

    Here is one of the best put-downs of a President I have ever seen:

    http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/5minute_arguments/oh_yeah_you_and_what_army.php

  • SouthOhioGipper

    A renewed Stalinist Empire, under Stalin 2.0 has just begun to be created and all I see from the American People is appeasement sentiments.

    • Eburke9999

      Putin is not Stalin and Christian nationalist Russia is not an atheistic imperialist Soviet Union. You want to see 2 atheistic imperialistic regimes – look to Washington and Brussels

    • Robert Kelley

      You or your son are welcome to lead the first patrol to engage Russian troops. The rest of us will sit this nonsense out.

  • Jamawani

    Dear Mr. Mead – Crimea may or may not be Russia’s garden; however, if Russia sees it as so, then that is another thing altogether. Not to mention that Russia has nuclear warheads.

    • David E.M. Thompson

      And Putin knows that we, too, have nuclear warheads. They are of small import here.
      For we have President Obama, who, Putin knows, will never give up on diplomacy. “Come, let us reason together” is his mantra.

  • Winston Smith

    The “West” is caught flat footed?. Don’t you mean Barry was caught flat footed? Ala Benghazi, I wonder where he was last night. Oh yea, at the Dem Happy Hour with his Choom Gang.

  • Common_Sense_Post

    Flat footed!? What are you talking about!? Did you not hear the president warn of “costs!?”

    I don’t know how much more forceful he could be!? I think his displeasure was registered. Mission accomplished!

    • StoutCortez

      Didn’t the President at one point also stomp his foot (well, lightly anyway)?

      • Common_Sense_Post

        Let’s not get carried away! It is not like Putin was conducting a war on women. Stomping of foot is reserved for only those most serious of national security threats! I applaud the president’s restraint, and I am sure the NY Times will back me up here!

  • Robert Kelley

    “Pro-European street protesters?” How about “neo-Nazi street thugs and anti-Russian bigots financed by the US and EU?” Our “cunning plan” is blowing up in our face, and we and Europe are receiving some richly earned humiliation.

    • Eburke9999

      We’ll said

  • nolawyers1

    And Obama will have the conviction to do what? “There will be costs”. And from Obama that means exactly what? Putin is happy he has Obama not a Bush to contend with. Oh, those red lines.

    • Robert Kelley

      Yes, we all remember how Dubya sent in the Marines when Russia cleaned the clock of that Georgian dictator.

  • cleo48

    This is not going to end well. The Ukraine was free for a few days before the former dictator was replaced by a worse one.
    This should have been anticipated, but the options seem limited. The Russians are recalling THEIR embassedor, as though somehow WE were responsible for the incursion. The Kenyan Marxist is being outmaneuvered at every turn. Putin has watched his foreign policy bungling for three years now, and has him well sized up. I can see no resource inside this administration remotely capable of dealing with this in any decisive fashion. By the time Obama Makes a move, if he does at all, it’s all going to be tied up in a package. The 21st century is not a time when this nation can afford a leader who needs a few rounds of golf and a vacation to think it over. Where is Obama’s version of Henry Kissinger? If you think it looks bad this week, kids, give it a month.

    • Robert Kelley

      I would suggest that all Americans in favor of war with Russia get together to boost their spirits. The party room at Applebee’s ought to be big enough to accommodate them.

      • cleo48

        There will be no war with Russia. But there is whole lot the President can do diplomatically that could put a lid on Putin carving up the Ukraine further. I don’t expect much creativity from him though. This could go in a number of nasty directions short of war. And some of them may originate far outside the US.

        • Eburke9999

          Why should we be involved at all – it’s enough that the west orchestrated the Ukrainian coup ousting the democratically elected Ukrainian president. We should instead focus our attention against the evil twin empire in Brussels and washington

    • AmosJones

      “Kenyan Marxist”

      There, you went and made a fool of yourself.

  • disqus_59KZkHgegx

    Thank you for the historical references to George Bernard Shaw and the rest of Britain’s “useful idiots” from the 1930s.
    Liberals NEVER learn from their mistakes. Hence, Michael Savage may well have been correct in classifying liberalism as a “mental disorder.”

  • visper

    As “The Economist” suggests, what Kharkiv (the prior capital of Soviet Ukraine) does next will, in all likelihood influence whether the Russians can hold on to more than just Crimea in the East and South of Ukraine. This follows the same pattern Russia followed in Abkhazia and South Osseta annexation away from Georgia in 2008. Some indications exist that all of Ukraine would rather be independent of Russia. The war of words and “under the table” efforts to influence Kharkiv are probably now in full force from all sides. Crimea, while important, is not the end game for Russia. Putin, I am sure, would prefer to have the entire country suppliant to the Russians. I disagree with Walter Russell Mead. The West was not caught by surprise. Since 2005, right after the Orange Revolution and even before the events in Georgia, Putin’s Foreign Policy has been clear that gas/oil, an equal treatment of Russia as a great power vs. Europe and US, and a counter to European Union with a strong union between Kazahkstan, Belarus, and Ukraine (all of Ukraine) are the main points of interest. Ukraine’s overtures to join EU were rapidly reacted to with the special agreement at the end of last year–to provide emergency funds to Ukraine in exchange. Putin, thought he had won. The toppling of Yanukovych doused that victory with cold water. The best thing the West can do is follow the events in Kharkiv before committing to any specific acts. Then, the response should be surgical. I suspect it will involve convincing the oligarchs in East Ukraine that going with the West, without totally losing Russia is the best course. But instabilities might dictate other actions. Getting stuck in Ukraine, as the Russians did in Afghanistan and Chechnya is not in the interests of the US.

  • Mike Fellman

    Turning this into an East versus West struggle will only empower Putin at home and lead to disaster. Putin is Soviet-style autocrat, who unfortunately at this time continues hold considerable sway in Russia because he has been able to prop up the economy with state oil revenues. His fatal miscalculation is that Russia’s energy is rapidly becoming less attractive as the natural gas revolution is making much of the world more energy self sufficient. The Russian economy is already stagnating, with growth coming in at just 1.2 percent, and inflation remaining stubbornly high. The latest crisis is already deterring Western investment, and the Ruble is pushing up against 36 to the dollar, a level not seen since before the financial crisis.

    Putin and his party will be voted or forced out of office, eventually. Honestly, Russia is paper tiger. Rife state corruption and anti-market policies will ensure that despite its vast natural wealth it will never become an economic super-power. Its human capital is also fleeing the country as top scientists trained in the Soviet Era move to Israel, the US, even Germany. It also has a declining population, so it is has no chance to replace this lost human talent.

    Its actually quite quaint how Putin thinks he can reestablish the old Russian Empire. He may be able to annex some territory where a majority of ethnic Russians live, but simple demographics will prevent Russia from ever being a super power again.

    On a separate note, I wonder if the editors of the American Interest actually read the comment threads post in response to their articles. Would they then see the hate and delusion their writing inspires?

    • http://www.reticulator.com Reticulator

      Sort of like Keynes: In the long run we’re all dead.

  • scott63

    I hear Obama has just drawn his final red line for Putin… At Germany’s boarder.

    • Eburke9999

      That’s great – love it. Only problem is I have my doubts the he even knows we have our troops stationed there

  • scott63

    Obama would like to stand up to Putin, but all our resources are otherwise engaged facing the true threat to America…. The tea party.

  • forgetyoutooo

    Obama is interested in Russia invading the Ukraine, that he skipped the national security team meeting today – Hillary and Obama’s favorite liar will update Obama before she hits the Sunday talk shows to tell us how deeply involved her boss and Lurch are and maybe blame a video.

  • wyseeit

    Who woke Obama, shouldn’t he be at a fundraiser. Send crazy uncle joe and dennis rodman to handle this.

  • martingale

    Obama vs. Churchill (The parallels are uncanny.)

    Churchill: An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
    Obama: Russian troop movements into Ukraine are “uncontested arrivals”. (Sort of like UPS deliveries or the NAZI occupation of the Sudetenland.)

    Churchill: This is our finest hour.
    Obama: This is our happy hour.

    Churchill: I have nothing to offer but, blood, sweat, tears, and toil.
    Obama: Come and get your free contraceptives and food stamps. And since I’m picking up the tab for your health insurance, why not kick back? It’s on me (well, not really).

    Churchill: The price of greatness is responsibility.
    Obama: Can’t I just eat my waffles?

    Churchill: Benghazi is the crossroads city where the British defeated the mighty Germans and drove them from Libya once and for all.
    Obama: Benghazi is the crossroads city where Al Qaeda defeated the mighty Americans and drove them from Libya once and for all.

  • tantorsea7

    Thank you for reminding us of Grenada, Stout. BO calling Putin on this is worse than the kettle and the pan thing. Let us see,
    we have invaded, bombed, or provided arms to insurgents in Panama, Grenada, Haiti, Serbia, Iraq, Lybia, Syria…, for an average of one invasion, bombing or subversion of a foreign sovereign nation every 40 months, quick to rain death from above on anyone and anything we please, always of countries weaker than our own of course. Our media and public discourse lacks complete perspective on these matters, blinded by chauvinism and oblivious to the way the rest of the world sees us: as a big bully meddling in other countries affairs and quick to kill from above, with some inevitable collateral damage, of course, every so many months. Anyway, Crimea has been part of Russia and has been populated by Russians since the nineteenth century when they beat the Muslim Turks out of there, just like California has been populated by Americans (and Mexicans, dont forget that if one day California decides to secede…) since the nineteenth century when we stole it from Mexico. Only after the break of the USSR did it become part of Ukraine. And again anyway, we are broke and should be minding our own business here: how about protecting our own borders, which are a joke?

  • Gregson14

    The naivety of this President in Foreign Affairs is Breathtaking – Obama’s legacy will forever be known as the President who not only lost the Middle East, but the man who stood by and watched while Oppression ran rampant!…

    First there was Iran – and then Egypt and Syria – and now there is the Ukraine!… All Presidential failures of the highest order!

    • Hegelguy

      I hope so!

    • Dee Bradford

      And what should have Obama done in the Ukraine? Just curious…send troops and start a war? Invade Russia? The only naivety that is breathtaking is your own…

      • Gregson14

        That is exactly what Putin is counting on – Obama’s inability develop strategic positions – or maybe it is his desire to project American weakness on Foreign Policy at every opportunity!…

    • Locke_in_the_modern_age

      It is not just this President, it is the whole set of people who refuse to admit evil/bad people exist. It’s fine to have that viewpoint, but please stay out of the way while the adults keep you safe.

    • DickNixon

      It’s part of Obama’s plan. This is intentional.

  • Atanu Maulik

    Remember the reset ? Putin just took that button and stuck it up Obama’s a**.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/admin/ed-assets/2012/12/button_clinton_030609.jpg

  • Beefbone

    It’s so frustrating — and predictable — to see the world’s descent into chaos. And we’re causing it… Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, China vs Japan, Iran and its nuclear weapon program, North Korea. Long-term enemies — but both long-time USA allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia are collaborating on mutual defense strategies that are counter to US policy, simply because they no longer trust us.

    One of the most basic natural laws is: “Nature abhors a vacuum.” If the USA’s reticence leaves room for bad actors, they’ll consider that an invitation to fill the space, themselves. The power vacuum that Obama, Biden, Clinton, et al have created is making the world a much more dangerous place, and it’s going to get a lot worse. Just this week, the Obama Administration has announced its plan to reduce our military capability to the level of 1938… just before WWII.

    During the 1930s, we complacently watched Germany and Japan building up their armed forces for years, while letting ours languish. In the face of the vastly increasing military might of those two obviously aggressive nations, our military weakness was the very basic cause of WWII; in light of the USA’s lack of preparedness, Japan and Hitler’s Germany were assured that the time was optimal to strike in both Europe and the Pacific region.

    1500 years ago, the Roman tactician Vegetius succinctly stated a hard-learned and often-repeated lesson: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, which translates to, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” A thousand years later, George Washington said exactly the same thing in his first annual address to Congress: “To be prepared for War is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”

    Obama and Kerry, sternly warning Russia and others of “consequences,” remind us of effete parents, ineffectually trying to control their unruly children, who know perfectly well that there will be no price to pay. Russia’s Putin knows perfectly well that there will be no cost to his reconquering Ukraine.

    Even now, there are things that the US can — but won’t — do:
    1) This would be an ideal time for a no-holds-barred combined EU and US air strike on Syria, with the goal of killing Syria’s Assad. Absolutely no need for US boots on the ground.
    2) Iran’s been playing for time while they build their inevitable nuclear weapon program. This is an ideal time for an Israeli surgical air strike on the Iranian nuclear plants.
    3) Russia’s particularly concerned about internal Muslim forces, including those in Chechnya. We should be smuggling arms and other aid to them. Those folks would be too busy, in their campaign against Russia, to be bothering the US.

    • Jake Jackson

      Yep, let’s accelerate the chaos. That ought to work real well. Fool.

      • Locke_in_the_modern_age

        What’s your solution?

        • Jake Jackson

          Seize the bank accounts, credit cards, and cancel the travel visas for Putin’s 1,000 closest cronies. No more DHL deliveries of luxury goods, and no more conversions of rubles into dollars, Euros, or yen.

          • Locke_in_the_modern_age

            You will need European and Japanese cooperation on that (the money changing). What makes you think any of the individuals you are thinking of targeting have external (to Russia) bank accounts? As for luxury goods, I guess they might have to go into shops in Moscow instead of shopping on the net. So basically, your “solution” sounds good but has absolutely no effect, like most Democratic Party solutions.

  • Tommy Udo

    Now emboldened, Magog (Russia) is on the move.

  • Brian Allan Cobb

    Looked throughout the article for any action proposed by the writer, and found none.

    • Dee Bradford

      exactly, so quick to blame our President….with not a shred of new ideas. Watched commentators this morning on Fox absolutely blaming Obama. Interesting though, when asked what ideas they had, not a freaking clue. This is an unfortunate situation over with (sorry, Hawks) we don’t have a lot of control other than economic. In the long run, Russia and Putin will regret this action. In this day and age, you can not take over another country (any want to say Iraq?) without major consequences.

  • Jake Jackson

    I hope Obama has learned from his experiences with the Republican Party that some adversaries are immune to reason or good faith, and will see compromise as weakness and concession.

    • Whit_Chambers

      Jake, the Democrats count on low information voters like you to keep them in power.

      Your head is so far up your b*u*tt you haven’t got a clue

      • Jake Jackson

        Wow, I’m chastened!

  • GOLFNPSYCH

    What Putin and the rast of the world knows is that the United States is broke and cannot afford to fight a war We are in roughly the same position that Russia was in after their withdrawal from Afghanistan. We did it to Russia and now Putin and Obama are doing it to us.

  • Black_Saint

    The World listens with bathed Breath when Dear Leader speaks.. I am sure Putin is quaking in his boots…His Bowels run loose due to Dear Leaders strong words!

    Ever have we had a President as Respected, Liked, or Trusted by other world leaders as Dear Leader he is The One!

  • Black_Saint

    We cannot spend money needed for food Stamps and other goodies that is required for Obama and the Democrats to buy votes with. All should remember we intend to give amnesty to many millions of uneducated welfare Democrats in the near future it will require trillions to provide them welfare and keep them happy and voting Democrat!

  • Black_Saint

    Russia was Reagan,s Evil empire. The USA is Liberals Evil empire!

  • Bloop_Bloopington

    wrm: When did you decide to bring back comments?

    “We’ll have to see, but without a sharp turn, neither President Obama nor
    his chief European partner Chancellor Merkel will do anything but seek
    to defuse the crisis as quickly and painlessly as possible.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. You feeling robbed of the opportunity to watch another “splendid little war” on Fox News?

  • notthemobnazietc

    Love this article, so true.

  • DickNixon

    No, the West isn’t flat footed. Obama is flat footed.

  • Mieau Gatto

    “I will be more Flexible once I am reelected.”

    Time to Bend Over, BHO, and show us your flexibility.

    What a pathetic, unqualified, inexperienced, little man, playing president.

    BHO is a Joke and an Embarrassment.

    • Dee Bradford

      yeah, you talk very tough, lol. So what would you have done? Just curious….so quick to blame with no ideas!

      • Mieau Gatto

        First: I never would have elected a pathetic, unqualified, inexperienced, little man, playing president.

        • Dee Bradford

          I see, not one idea on what to do with Russia.but plenty of spite for your own President. You must be the Fox News junkie…lol. I saw the same silly things from them yesterday.

          BTW, what a great entertainment show they have. They are not a new network, but an entertainment center for the same angry scared people who are afraid of minorities and featuring good looking chicks spouting the same nonsense.

          Maybe John Wayne ought to ride out there and shoot a couple of those bad guys, huh?

          • Mieau Gatto

            You are Black, on welfare, and have no idea who your Baby Daddy is, right?

          • Dee Bradford

            Not exactly, lol. White, affluent, educated and liberal. Sorry that I don’t meet your stereotype. On the other hand, you meet my stereotype perfectly. Middle age, white and angry that minorities have ruined this country. How close is that?

          • Guest

            You are trying to tell me there’s a difference between the two? You are exactly what I expected. Nigger lover

          • Dee Bradford

            at least I post my name, while you are nothing but a coward!

  • Whit_Chambers

    dictator Obama is a laughing stock throughout the world….. he is a coward, a liar, and a fool.

    The person that said that ….’the only country that fears Obama is the US’…. was RIGHT

  • JD777

    Not everybody was caught flat footed. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin warned that if Senator Barack Obama were elected president, his “indecision” and “moral equivalence” may encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

    Palin said then:

    “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’sreaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”

    For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine.

  • vepxistqaosani

    I am so tired of pundits writing articles about fecklessness (like the above). When will someone tell Obama to get fecked?

  • nsirchov

    More like the US got caught dragging their knuckles. Just watch the Oscars tonight to find out what kinda sick society we have become It is really sad.

  • davrich

    Red line schmedline, what a bunch of crap. This psedudointellectual pres is in way over his head and the Ukrainian people will take the brunt of oblama’s leading from behind. What an amateur!!!!

  • Buck Ofama

    Cuntbama the C0CKSUCKER should step down, like 5 years ago.

  • crocodilechuck

    Mead’s simplistic jingo response does all who read it a disservice.

    Australia’s Malcom Fraser, from The Guardian:

    “After the fall of the Soviet Union, many hoped the cold war ideology could be put behind, and that the powers could work for a more co-operative and a better world. Nato had done its job.

    There were many ways in which the former members of the Soviet Union in eastern Europe could have been given security for the future. Nato chose to provide that security by moving eastward to the borders of Russia. The then president, Gorbachev, in negotiating with secretary of state, James Baker, had insisted that Nato should not move one foot east – this was an area of traditional Russian influence. President Clinton pushed to expand the Nato alliance to the very borders of Russia. There was talk of Ukraine and Georgia being included.

    The move east, despite the negotiations held with Gorbachev, was provocative, unwise and a very clear signal to Russia: we are not willing to make you a co-operative partner in the management of European or world affairs; we will exercise the power available to us and you will have to put up with it.

    The message was re-emphasised years later, when President Bushsought to place elements of the anti-ballistic missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. America said this was aimed at Iran. Russia would not have believed that. The west was acting as though the cold war still persisted.

    What happened a while ago in Georgia, and what is happening now in Crimea, grows directly from those early mistakes made by the west. The west has been angling over the years to draw Ukraine into Nato. It has been doing whatever it could to support a pro-European government in the Ukraine, and to oppose or to bring down a pro-Russian government.

    In January, Seumas Milne described those fighting against the then government. If but a small part of what he then said was correct, the west has once again chosen some unsavoury partners and that does not augur well for the future. Milne then described the elements then fighting the government as pro-fascist, pro-nazi, anti-Jew.

    The west has again been flat-footed and unprepared. There is a significant Russia minority in Ukraine; Russia would be bound to take steps to protect that minority. In addition, if Putin thought that the west was angling to get the Ukraine into Nato, he certainly would have taken steps as he has to guarantee access to the Black Sea ports in Crimea and to safeguard military establishments which could be used to threaten that access.

    To protect assets in Crimea will always be a Russian objective. Western leaders and western media mostly paint the whole dispute as totally one-sided: it is all Russia’s fault, and Putin is preventing a true democracy emerging. The steps taken in the early days after the fall of the Soviet Union, the breach of what Gorbachev (I accept almost certainly mistakenly) believed to be a firm agreement that Nato would not move east, was bound to create difficulties for the future.

    There will be no way out of this, unless the history and the west’s past mistakes are understood by those who are trying to grapple with the present intractable, difficult and extraordinarily dangerous problem.

    There is another aspect of this which should give western powers even greater concern for the future. The US has embarked on what many regard as a foolish and dangerous policy in the western pacific: a policy of containment of China. Even Joseph Nye, a former Pentagon official,has said containment is the wrong approach to a rising China – the US policy should be one of co-operation. There have been discussions about possible strategic arrangements between China and Russia. Are the mistaken policies of the US and the unfolding drama in Ukraine going to push both Russia and China towards a strategic partnership?

    Those who thought the cold war was over and hoped for a better world are being proved to be wrong. Those in charge of current policy are showing an inadequate understanding of the events unfolding before their eyes, and an inability to work co-operatively to guide the world more safely.”

  • Black_Saint

    George Orwell,s 1984 arrived with Obama and the Democrats

    Losing a job is freedom from job lock. A budget deficit larger than in any previous administration is austerity. A mean right-wing video caused the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi. Al-Qaeda was long ago washed up. The Muslim Brotherhood is secular. Jihad is a personal journey. Shooting people while screaming Allahu akbar! is workplace violence. Unaffordable higher premiums and deductibles are the result of an Affordable Care Act. Losing your doctor and your health-insurance plan prove you will never lose your doctor and your health-insurance plan — period! Being a constitutional lawyer means you know how to turn the IRS and the FCC on your enemies. Failure is success; lies are truth.

  • bamabear

    What interest or concern does the US have in Ukraine or even eastern Europe? Answer: Ego. Crimea is actually an opportunity for Uncle Sam to relinquish its expensive role as world policeman.

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