The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Battle for Ukraine Putin Smashes Washington’s Cocoon

A Politico report calls it “a crisis that no one anticipated.” The Daily Beast, reporting on Friday’s US intelligence assessment that “Vladimir Putin’s military would not invade Ukraine,” quotes a Senate aide claiming that “no one really saw this kind of thing coming.”

Op-eds from all over the legacy press this week helped explained why. Through the rose tinted lenses of a media community deeply convinced that President Obama and his dovish team are the masters of foreign relations, nothing poor Putin did could possibly derail the stately progress of our genius president. There were, we were told, lots of reasons not to worry about Ukraine. War is too costly for Russia’s weak economy. Trade would suffer, the ruble would take a hit. The 2008 war with Georgia is a bad historical comparison, as Ukraine’s territory, population and military are much larger. Invasion would harm Russia’s international standing. Putin doesn’t want to spoil his upcoming G8 summit, or his good press from Sochi. Putin would rather let the new government in Kiev humiliate itself with incompetence than give it an enemy to rally against. Crimea’s Tartars and other anti-Russian ethnic minorities wouldn’t stand for it. Headlines like “Why Russia Won’t Invade Ukraine,” “No, Russia Will Not Intervene in Ukraine,” and “5 Reasons for Everyone to Calm Down About Crimea” weren’t hard to find in our most eminent publications.

Nobody, including us, is infallible about the future. Giving the public your best thoughts about where things are headed is all a poor pundit (or government analyst) can do. But this massive intellectual breakdown has a lot to do with a common American mindset that is especially built into our intellectual and chattering classes. Well educated, successful and reasonably liberal minded Americans find it very hard to believe that other people actually see the world in different ways. They can see that Vladimir Putin is not a stupid man and that many of his Russian officials are sophisticated and seasoned observers of the world scene. American experts and academics assume that smart people everywhere must want the same things and reach the same conclusions about the way the world works.

How many times did foolishly confident American experts and officials come out with some variant of the phrase “We all share a common interest in a stable and prosperous Ukraine.” We may think that’s true, but Putin doesn’t.

We blame this in part on the absence of true intellectual and ideological diversity in so much of the academy, the policy world and the mainstream media. Most college kids at good schools today know many more people from different races and cultural groups than their grandparents did, but they are much less exposed to people who think outside the left-liberal box. How many faithful New York Times readers have no idea what American conservatives think, much less how Russian oligarchs do? Well bred and well read Americans live in an ideological and cultural cocoon and this makes them fatally slow to understand the very different motivations that animate actors ranging from the Tea Party to the Kremlin to, dare we say it, the Supreme Leader and Guide of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As far as we can tell, the default assumption guiding our political leadership these days is that the people on the other side of the bargaining table (unless they are mindless Tea Party Republicans) are fundamentally reasonable people who see the world as we do, and are motivated by the same things that motivate us. Many people are, of course, guided by an outlook not all that dissimilar from the standard upper middle class gentry American set of progressive ideas. But some aren’t, and when worlds collide, trouble comes.

Too much of the Washington policy establishment looks around the world and sees only reflections of its own enlightened self. That’s natural and perhaps inevitable to some degree. The people who rise through the competitive bureaucracies of American academic, media and think tank life tend to be those who’ve most thoroughly absorbed and internalized the set of beliefs and behavioral norms that those institutions embody and respect. On the whole, those beliefs and norms have a lot going for them. It would not be an improvement if America’s elite institutions started to look more like their counterparts in Russia or Zimbabwe.

But while those ideas and beliefs help people rise through the machinery of the American power system, they can get in the way when it comes to understanding the motives and calculations of people like President Putin. The best of the journalists, think tankers and officials will profit from the Crimean policy fiasco and will never again be as smug or as blind as so much of Washington was last week. The mediocre majority will go on as before.

The big question of course, is what President Obama will take away from this experience. Has he lost confidence in the self-described (and self-deceived) ‘realists’ who led him down the primrose path with their empty happy talk and their beguiling but treacherous illusions? Has he rethought his conviction that geopolitics and strategy are relics of a barbarous past with no further relevance in our own happy day? Is he tired of being humiliated on the international stage? Is it dawning on him that he has actual enemies rather than difficult partners out there, and that they wish him ill and seek to harm him? (Again, we are not talking about the GOP in Congress.)

Let’s hope so. There are almost three years left in this presidential term, and they could be very long ones if President Obama chooses to stick with the ideas and approaches he’s been using so far.

Published on March 1, 2014 5:55 pm
  • Ben Franklin

    There is absolutely no evidence to back up the claim that our ruling class is well educated. They are credentialed. But we are five years into Obama’s reign and we have yet to see any evidence that he understands any subject at more than a fifth grade level. That is leftism in a nutshell. They lie to each other so often and create fantasies of such depth that they are absolutely shocked when confronted with the real world.

    Palin on the other hand has been right about everything from Obama being a corporatist, to our enemies being emboldened by his weakness, and she even called the Ukraine as a place to watch for our enemies to advance. Of course she is considered an idiot by all of the proper people in power for the very reason that she destroys their illusion of superiority which they have so carefully crafted for themselves.

    The emperor has no clothes. But neither does his court.

    • Lyle7

      I’m pretty sure Palin was just saying what a foreign policy advisor was telling her. What she said was similar to what Romney was saying as well.

      WRM is spot on about the ignorance of American’s elite. Too many lack certain life experiences to know that they’re really quite ignorant. It’s also amazing how so many are not well traveled, be that within the U.S. or abroad. Then again a lot of people travel and remain ignorant.

      • E.G. Lim

        Lyle7:

        I disagree with your reflexive take on Palin. Palin has good common sense and judgment. In general, she believes, as I do, that American leadership has been good for the world.

        Your second statement that “what she said was similar to what Romney was saying as well” makes little sense. In fact what she said is similar to what I have been saying too. Does it follow then that I must have been advising her or that her advisers must have been advising me? Give Palin credit when credit ‘s due; and criticize her in the same manner. Ben Franklin’s right on the money on Palin,

        • Lyle7

          Oh, I agree with you that Palin has good common sense. She knows jack all about the Ukraine and Russia though. I’m pretty sure her and Romney’s advisors were telling them both the same things. I don’t think she was parroting Romney, but just what Republican foreign policy advisors were telling her. They just also told Romney the same stuff.

          Go on thinking she knows foreign policy. She doesn’t though.

          The credit really belongs to the Republican foreign policy guys who know Russia.

          • Jim__L

            So Lyle7, are you saying that Palin has better taste and judgement when it comes to advisers than Obama does?

          • Lyle7

            Yeah, she clearly had better advisors on Russia than Obama. Why would I not agree with that?

          • Jim__L

            Arguably, the ability to pick the right advisers is the most important quality in a leader, particularly one in a job as complex and wide-ranging as the presidency.

          • valwayne

            Absolute! Obama picks advisors that he knows are corrupt and will LIE for him more easily than they breathe. As Amb Rice being appointed to be National Security advisor proves.

          • rheddles

            Go on thinking she knows foreign policy. She doesn’t though.

            You must have talked to her a lot, because you haven’t produced any evidence to support your absurd statement. Are you a member of America’s elite?

          • Lyle7

            I have produced evidence. Romney was saying the same thing as her because they were both being advised by similarly minded foreign policy experts. Sarah Palin, as wonderful and nice a person as she is, is no foreign policy expert.

          • fedhup

            What if they were both saying the same thing because…..

            wait for it……

            They knew what they were talking about.

            But that thought never crossed your mind because how could a Republican know more than a democrat.

            You are absurd and as shallow as creek in the Sahara.

          • ejochs

            Yet she’s right and the advisors are wrong. Funny how that happens.

          • Lyle7

            What are you talking about? Palin’s advisors were right.

          • Mark Hamilton

            Russia’s foreign policy is not that complicated.

          • Lyle7

            Who said it was complicated? She’s just ignorant of foreign affairs. She was only saying what her advisors were telling her to say. She is no different than Obama. He’s as ignorant as her.

            If it makes you guys feel better, it’s nice she can rub this in peoples’, especially the mediocre medias’, faces. More power to her.

          • Mark Hamilton

            If you say so. I’m not too concerned with whether Palin figured this out on her own or had an advisor tell her. “If it makes you feel better” you can call her ignorant and proclaim that you know something is a fact that you have no way of knowing.

          • Lyle7

            Umm, Mark, she has no background in foreign policy. None whatsoever. She no doubt knows more now than she did, but that doesn’t make her any more knowledgeable than Obama.

            I’m happy her naysayers look like dummies though.

          • Mark Hamilton

            Great. I’m glad you’re on the case. I’ll watch Russia and you can decipher the latest machinations in Alaska. What this country really needs are qualified Palinologists. Keep up the good work.

          • Scott Furley

            why do people argue wtih lyle? he doesnt give palin credit for what she said?… hey f*** you lyle.

          • ahorvath

            What did the community organizer know about foreign policy?

          • Lyle7

            Jack all. I totally agree with you.

          • bobw-66554432

            It’s OK to “not know”, it’s not OK to “not learn” because you believe you are always “the smartest guy in the room.”

            I don’t remember Palin ever saying she was smarter than everyone else and thus didn’t need their input. President Obama has said that several times. Even worse, the people surrounding him believe it as much as he does…

          • Lyle7

            I don’t disagree with you.

          • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

            Sarah has intellectual humility. Something Obama and his cohorts on the left know nothing about.

          • secondgenamerican

            Lyle, even if Ms. Palin had foreign policy advisors, it was still her neck she stuck out there when she made the statements. She had to weigh those advisories and determine what to say. Give the lady some credit.

        • hdc77494

          The point wasn’t whether Palin would be a good president. It was simply that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to rip to shreds tour seriously flawed Russian policy.

      • Kavanna

        I doubt if Palin had much in the way of foreign policy advising. She was just applying common sense and not lying to herself or anyone else. Much of this is NOT HARD TO FIGURE OUT. You just need to avoid being part of the credentialed elite and their “consensus”-driven collective blindness and tribal superstitions.

        • Jonathan_Silber

          Right you are; and Palin would have made a fine president.

          • Kavanna

            Do I detect sarcasm here? :)

            Palin would have been in over her head as president. But the same is all the more true of Obama. It’s the latter who was and is the center of a national salvation cult, cheer-led by the media.

      • hdc77494

        So if Obama said it, it’s his own brilliant idea, but if Palin said it, somebody put words in her mouth. Sorry, but that’s a bit sexist, come on.

        • Scott Furley

          lyle is a real f****kin jag off. no doubt about it.

      • Winston Smith

        A small town mayor from Alaska saw this coming and the debonair and “experienced” Sec. Lurch didn’t? I guess she really could see Russia from her backyard.

      • spunknik

        You might be right, but the wisdom to choose the right advisors is half the battle.

      • gommygoomy

        Yeah.

        Like: HOLDING DOWN A REAL JOB in their entire miserable lives.

    • Evan Dickinson

      Yes, exactly. If the left in academia is in a bubble then they cannot claim to be well-educated. If they cannot defend their beliefs their beliefs are garbage.

      • bobw-66554432

        Even worse is the fact that the Left now demands that all others quit speaking because their “beliefs” are “established facts”, and others beliefs are “racism.”

      • Winston Smith

        The Country is paying a large price for their elitist education.

        • Kevin Williams

          The whole World will soon.

          • Winston Smith

            Actually, I think the world will sit back and watch with glee as the American Empire implodes.

        • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

          Their students are paying as well. Not just intellectually, but economically.

      • Black_Saint

        Their defense is cries of racism! That limits their need for thinking and defending their positions because they cannot based on logic or history!

    • KNOWAK

      I cannot say anything against but respectfully concur. Except one thing..You see, Palin could have been a far more graceful vice president than this dummy ever will be as
      president.

      • Winston Smith

        Given her right call on the Russians going into Ukraine, maybe she really could see Russia from her backyard.

    • oparoberts

      Might I add parenthetically, that Benjamin Franklin should be on Mt Rushmore at least ahead of all except Washington and arguably even him. I’m sure that invites criticism; I’m not saying he was perfect but I’m not sure Jefferson/Lincoln/FDR would have had their opportunities for greatness without him.

      • Rick Owen

        Dude, it’s THEODORE Roosevelt on Mt. Rushmore, not his cousin. FDR couldn’t hold a candle to TR. While TR is clearly to blame for opening the gates wide for big government and executive hubris, he was an entirely different breed of man-the kind who believed in “the square deal,” not the cronyism and quasi-fascistic “new deal.”

        • oparoberts

          Well, you embarrass me and I deserve it. I knew better but when I think Roosevelt, “FDR” is automatic. However, my enthusiasm for Benjamin Franklin causes me to lose my rational balance. I’ve recently read 2 scholarly biographies of him and I’ve recently read his autobiography a second time the title of which is “Autobiography”. He really may be “The First American”.

          If you haven’t read his “Autobiography”, I recommend it. It is amazing; it is short (very). He was dedicated to self-improvement and he worked at it. He was complex far beyond what I ever knew. He was instructive to society and foremost he endeavored to never alienate….. in debate/conversation, he avoided using certain judgmental words – must, can’t (I don’t remember the exact ones). He “suggested” others do the same. He thought government employment should not be remunerated (I think I remember that right)
          In any case, thanks for correcting me. I like your observation about TR. I got a similar view from another book, Gilded Lives – Fatal Voyage, about the Titanic and it’s passengers one of whom was an aide to Taft…….an entree to TR.

          Enough.

        • Corlyss

          Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!

    • lichau

      Well said, Ben. I think the prime requirement to be an “intellectual” is a perfected sneer.
      “There are none so blind as those that choose not to see”

    • http://jonlester.tv/ Jon Lester

      But who exactly are “our enemies?” Are those fascists in Kiev our “friends?”

      • ahorvath

        You don’t even know the meaning of fascists.

        • http://jonlester.tv/ Jon Lester

          You are a fucking idiot.

        • Scott Furley

          thats right. what does this have to with fascists. doesnt make any sense this story has nothing to do with fascists. why john is bringing up fascists is beyond me. you have nationalist russians and nationalist ukrainians in a property dispute. then you have left wing semi marxist obama sitting there unable to do anything or understand this issue. no one is acting in a fascist manner.

      • annnort

        Those in Kiev are not fascists. The fascists are in our own backyard. And, according to Obama, the enemy is us – the republicans! As he has figured out, the real Americans ARE the enemies of the fascists.

        • http://jonlester.tv/ Jon Lester

          They’re not? Right Sektor? Svoboda? Look them up.

      • Winston Smith

        We have know friends no matter how many trillions we throw at countries.

    • Louis Renault

      I totally agree. A disproportionate number of the folks in the upper echelon of government and Wall Street were educated in Ivy League colleges and yet these same folks destroyed our economy. Back during the Clinton administration Brooksley Born tried to warn all those same folks and they laughed at her. Just prior to the economic collapse these same folks were laughing at Peter Schiff when he was telling them it was coming too…

    • valwayne

      Amen! Obama is a blind Marxist ideologue who hasn’t show one iota of learning from his 5 years of abject failure on the economy and on foreign policy. Obama is sticking with his extreme left wing transformation of our nation even as the economy and political damage growth into massive threats. Putin folks isn’t the only tyrant taking advantage of Obama’s weakness and incompetence. Iran, Syria, China, N Korea, and Russia are all moving faster and faster to take advantage of our unfit President. Things only get worse from here folks.

      • Scott Furley

        Obama is more worried about the arizona law making sure that you can sue if a baker refuses to make a gay wedding cake or sue if a photographer does not want to photograph the gay wedding

        • Black_Saint

          Obama,s number one priority is Immigration I.E Amnesty!

          The sad thing is Obama just needs one win to met his objective of transforming this Nation. If he gets the Amnesty passed alone with lots of help from RINO,s he will have transformed this Nation by having turned all red states into blue states and this Nation into a Spanish speaking third world slum.

          Controlled by the Socialist/Democrat party of Northern Mexico!

          With the amnesty bill he will add over 33 million of uneducated welfare Democrats in the next decade. Democrats will have complete control over the Third World Slum that is the former great USA and live like the Kings of old or maybe like Africa rulers do today over starving 4th and 5th world slums.

      • Winston Smith

        Actually as a red diaper baby, I think Barry and Mr. Putin may have “a thing goin’ on.”

    • Winston Smith

      I think they lack experience not education.

      • secondgenamerican

        If the “education” is teaching you untrue things then it’s not education.

        • Winston Smith

          I guess the folks at Harvard don’t know that.

      • Scott Furley

        huh?

    • Piltdown Ghost

      The problem runs deeper than credentialism: these people are “educated” with misinformation; it would have to be unlearned as part of any learning process that brought their thinking into alignment with reality.
      Worse still there is no poorer unlearning environment than an echo chamber. Someone will invent a too-sexy-to-ignore theory — Republicans’ incautious pronouncements on Ukrainian politics provoked Putin, or Putin got the idea from Bush invading Iraq — and the rest of the group will treat it like a revelation. Russian troops would have to march all the way to Moldova before groupthink surrendered to reality.

      • Will

        As Reagan said: “it’s not that our friends on the left are ignorant, it’s just they know so much that isn’t so.”

    • FreedomRings_CA

      Excellent analysis and spot-on observation of the ruling class’ “education”.

      The Left, to a man, is so abysmally ignorant, they do not even comprehend themselves.

      “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna (sic) be a strong suit of mine.” ~~ Barack Obama

      • Winston Smith

        Barry is a stone cold killer who puts W to shame.

        • Scott Furley

          what?

    • silencedogood20

      I agree with everything except your implications about Palin. Even broken clocks can be correct. I would feel only marginally safer with Palin in the driver’s seat. If you want to talk about Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, that’s different. But someone who isn’t smart enough to know that the media is going to try to sandbag a conservative in an interview and prepare accordingly isn’t the answer. Just because the left put forth a person of little accomplishment who said the “right” things, doesn’t mean we have to. It will lead to the same results.

    • Ricky Vaughn

      The ruling class is credentialed and intelligent, but on the whole they are woefully uneducated in the true sense of the word. Schooled, yes, but uneducated.

  • ThomasD

    ” It would not be an improvement if America’s elite institutions started
    to look more like their counterparts in Russia or Zimbabwe”
    he said, with a tinge patina smattering heaping ton of irony.

    • CiceroTheLatest

      “It takes a special kind of stupid to not see any of this coming.”

      FIFY

      • Andrew Allison

        Exemplified by Politico and its fans.

    • Kavanna

      One example is Michael Totten: he more or less predicted a Russian intervention in Ukraine several years ago, in his book, Where the West Ends.

      It’s like those “progressive” economists who claimed that they saw all along that the 2008 crisis was coming. In fact, with one or two exceptions, none of them did. But there were a handful of people who did see something bad coming. Virtually all of them were gold bugs, “Austrians,” and other free-market types who decoded the Greenspan-Bernanke witch-doctory early on, while everyone else was sleepwalking.

    • Phadras Johns

      Isn’t that the truth. For a couple of decades the left has railed against American international involvement. They actually naively believe that they can wish themselves a brave new world. It works in the Washington bubble of like minded press and politicians but sadly suffers a real world test. Those darn foreigners are just like the stupid republicans and can’t acknowledge and follow the “learned” left.

      • lichau

        I spent the decade of the ’60′s on campus. The campus radicals of those days (Clintons, etc.) are either “senior statesmen” or mentors of the Barack Obama’s, Wasserman-Shultz, etc. IMO, it is not so much wishing a brave new world–although there is an element of that–but a deep seated dislike/hatred of the United States.

    • Boritz

      And consider this:
      “How many faithful New York Times readers have no idea what American conservatives think, much less how Russian oligarchs do?”

      In 2000 you could charitably characterize this as ignorance. In 2014 it is just plain stupidity. These people are as dumb as a bag of hammers. The fact that it is willful makes it no less so.

  • Bruce

    What I would like to know is what we would do even if we had a competent POTUS. After Iraq and Afghanistan, nobody in the USA has an appetite for sending troops anywhere. Maybe a competent administration would not have talked tough knowing it wasn’t going to do anything. But seriously, what are we going to do? Recall ambassadors? That won’t exactly leave Vlad quivering in fear. Since that won’t, maybe the 90 minute phone conversation that POTUS had with Vlad was useful. Groveling with Vlad on the phone might have worked great. It is true that it would be better if we didn’t have ideological Marxists misreading events and running the country, but in this particular situation, does it matter? Yes, our prestige is diminished, but this bunch surrendered that 5 years ago. Is anybody surprised? To have this much outrage, people must be surprised. It’s surprising that people are surprised.

    • vepxistqaosani

      I think it really is surprising that POTUS said “there will be costs,” when he lacks both the will and and the ability to impose any costs. The Obama Doctrine, pace Teddy Roosevelt, seems to be “Talk loudly and carry a very, very, very small stick.”

      That strategy has never worked well in any context from the family up to international policy.

      • Kavanna

        What they said. There are plenty of things the US can do, or lead other countries in doing, in response to Putin. To have demonstrated so much naivete and willful blindness over Iran and Syria was gratuitous and helped to lead directly to this.

        If you think this will be confined to Ukraine, you’re wrong. This has immediate ramifications in the farcical negotations over Syria (another Samantha Power production). Finally, Russia is now calling in its chips and renegotiating base agreements with former Cold War allies all over the world (Algeria, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and so on). Meanwhile, we have a long list of now-former allies who’ve gotten the message about the US: no longer a serious country. But the election and re-election of Barack Obama proved that already.

        • Jim__L

          Cutting the US military budget right on through the bone, and backing domestic policies that signal you have no intention to ever let it rise again, I’m sure give considerable aid and comfort to the US’s international enemies.

          • irish19

            While at the same time militarizing local police and government agencies. Scary times ahead.

        • irish19

          Excellent analysis. This must be what zero meant by more flexibility

        • lichau

          We are worse than “not serious”; we are unreliable as an ally and irrelevant as an adversary.

          • royw

            Right. We will stand with the international community, but they won’t stand with us. For the reasons you state.

            Why would they?

      • Paul_in_NJ

        When Obama said “There will be costs,” I’m fairly certain he was referring to Putin’s army. Those guys don’t come cheap.

      • bobw-66554432

        Maybe the “there will be costs” was an indication to Putin that Obama was willing to buy Putin off if he would just back track and make Obama look good. The “costs” would have been born by the American taxpayer. Perhaps that was “more flexibility” message that Obama told Putin he would have “after I’m re-elected.”

    • George Gamble

      Well, let’s see – for starters we could have immediately offered to expand the missile shield that we had built for the Poles and Czechs to Ukraine. Oh wait, we can’t because Obama, to demonstrate his enlightenment killed that Bush led initiative to the major consternation of the countries involved.

      The US and Canada have some of the largest shale and gas formations in the world. We could threaten to start immediately shipping said resources to Europe to help break Putin’s strangle hold on their energy supplies and hurt putin in the pocketbook since the only real money his country can make is by shipping out its natural resources. But since we can’t even get a friggin pipeline to the gulf coast, that’s not very likely.

      I could go on, but there are many ways short of military to thwart or minimize Russia’s aggressiveness that does not include outright war.

      • bilejones

        And o’ you can’t, because the the US is bankrupt.

    • bilejones

      Why should the US do anything?
      (and that’s ignoring the $5 billion and 25 years of fucking around in a country that Americans couldn’t find on a map

  • LilEichmanns

    After reading this wonderful analysis, go back a couple of years and read the New York Time’s deep insight on Obama administration philosophical architect (and husband to UN Ambassador Samantha Power, who is at the helm of this intelligence crisis), Cass Sunstein:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/magazine/16Sunstein-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    It is a shocking, albeit accidental, illumination at how myopically naive these “enlightenment reasoned rational scientists” of the University of Chicago Mindset are. They’re consistently caught off guard, believing their analytical science can control for irrationality and chaos. We’re indeed led by the most credentialed of fools.

    • ThomasD

      Except that this is not irrationality. Putin’s behavior is imminently rational when viewed from a different set of goals, and expectations.

      He wants to maintain his hegemony, and has (rightly) concluded that Obama, and western Europe will do nothing to thwart him.

      • Phadras Johns

        Putin is behaving rationally by protecting Russian military assets in the Crimea. But it is the same old bear. Russia has been empire building since the Tzars were in short pants. It is what they, and all large powers, tend to do. It is only the constraining of that power by the opposing power of another state that keeps these folks in check. No opposition? Ever hear of the Sudetenland?

        • bobw-66554432

          The basic problem of the left is that even though they have heard of the Sudetenland, they “know” it could never happen again because their own “enlightened” beloved leader is omnipotent and all foreign powers bend and sway to his intellect and powers of persuasion…

          • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

            Yes, the teleprompter “rules”.

  • ThomasD

    “The best of the journalists, think tankers and officials will profit
    from the Crimean policy fiasco and will never again be as smug or as
    blind as so much of Washington was last week.”

    Because the NYT clearly learned their lesson with that whole Walter Duranty fiasco.

    “Has he rethought his conviction that geopolitics and strategy are relics
    of a barbarous past with no further relevance in our own happy day?”

    Are you trying to match eye rolls to page views?

    Now I’m seriously starting to question your willful blindness and arrogance.

  • CiceroTheLatest

    The problem is that our “elites” are not well educated. In fact, they are actually of below average intelligence, probably due to their mind boggling ignorance of the real world. They are certainly utterly unaware of the world around them, and stunningly incurious about anything outside their narrow, provincial, bigoted circle of Leftist parrots. Anyone with any interest in international relations could have been listening to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and predicted precisely what the Russians would do in Ukraine.

    • bobw-66554432

      I suspect they appear to be ” below average intelligence ” due to the severe intellectual inbreeding that the left has “enjoyed” over the past 30 years.

    • royw

      As you and other point out, there is a big difference between intellect and intelligence. Few have both.

  • REDJI

    On the World Stage, Obama is a Nancy-Boy, in the truest sense of the word………He’s prepared to bend over for any of the tough guys of the World…..

    • Meekrob

      I really want to make a Reggie Love joke here, but I won’t.

      • jonodough

        Please do. After what we Americans have been going thru with this incompetent, arrogant Muslim traitor, we need a good laugh.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Please don’t. It always devolves into a tasteless posting session.

  • CiceroTheLatest

    “The big question of course, is what President Obama will take away from this experience.”

    No, that isn’t a big question. Obama will take exactly nothing away from this. He has no capacity to learn.

    • bigfire

      Learning is beneath God Emperor Obama. He got a pen and a phone. So as HE willed it, so it shall be.

    • Kavanna

      It interrupted the perpetual fundraising and the golf game. Next question?

    • Phadras Johns

      And there’s the rub. No one on the left has anything to learn. They have cornered the ideological marketplace and all other ideas that do not fit are just unacceptable. The bamster is a much too arrogant narcissist to ever accept schooling from anyone.

      • Boritz

        It’s settled science or politcs or whatever.

  • Nick

    The best part of this all was this…

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/27/u-s-spies-no-russia-isn-t-about-to-invade-ukraine.html

    Any conservative worth his or her salt knew this was stupid. We’ve watched now for five years as the Russians have used the “Reset” to expand their power. Military usage by the more aggressive great powers has always been tied to whether those powers think their primary rivals who “check” them are weak or not. We are led by the weakest President in all of US history – but not just weak, but someone who has sympathy with our enemies, and despises what America has long stood for.

    WRM has not been training his own writers well enough in what the rest of the aggressive great powers know – that the Jacksonian school of American Foreign Policy, which backed its power with a balance of morality has been devastated by years of Wilsonian adventurism, and has further been devastated by leftist isolationism, which is more than comfortable with allowing leftist Great Powers to reclaim zones of influence that it had taken Jacksonians 50 years to push back.

    We will have a long three years ahead of us, and a lot of people will die and suffer because of that man in the whitehouse.

  • El Gringo

    The majority of folks working in and for Washington are a highly educated and very smart group of people. And, contrary to popular belief, most of them are there because they feel that they are working for their country. You may disagree with their policies but that does not give you leave to make a poor straw man fallacy or ad hominem attack.

    But, as has been very well stated by this article, sincerity and intelligence alone are not enough in the policy world. Our foreign policy leadership is indeed wrapped up in an “ideological and cultural cocoon.” The leadership is convinced that the our world is on the cusp of a postmodernist breakthrough and that if the U.S. just stays the course on the “big” issues, such as battling homophobia in Africa, then we will be at the vanguard of a new, more enlightened age. 9/11 did not prevent the end of history – it merely postponed it.

    This view is reflected in the decision making process. Stovepiping is endemic in the policy making of the U.S. It was under the Bush administration and continues under the Obama administration. As under the Bush administration, Obama has a select cadre of advisers who in turn have their own select sources who feed them the information they want to hear. Any evidence to the contrary must be discarded or it will create a cognitive dissonance. Kerry has been in the State Department for over a year now but he has refused to integrate himself into the Department and instead depends upon his own inner circle who want very little to do with the professional diplomats in Foggy Bottom.

    Our policy makers are in serious need of a healthy dose of realism but it seems unlikely that will happen any time soon.

    • jonodough

      “Most are there because they feel they are working for their country”. No. Most are there because it is a power job for there self important egos. They are there because of the good pay, the benefits and the pension along with the idea that a public servant can accrue millions on top or all that for who knows what. They are there for their bottom line. That’s what I see because they obviously don’t give a sht about what the majority of americans think is important or what we want or how we want to live our lives. This is through years of observation and reality.

    • StoutCortez

      “The majority of folks working in and for Washington are a highly educated and very smart group of people.”

      Not highly educated, but highly degreed. Not very smart, but very dedicated to spouting politically correct opinion.

      Joe Biden—highly educated and very smart? Harry Reid—highly educated and very smart? Nancy Pelosi? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? Please, give us a break.

    • royw

      Re your first paragraph.

      How much time have you spent among politicians and bureaucrats while actually in DC?

      I have spent quite a lot.

      So I can tell you with some authority that, with some exception, they are mind-boggingly self-indulgent, arrogant, self-absorbed, gutless toadies.

      In fact, I invite you just to go observe from the galleries of Congress. Just watch for a day the nearly empty room, with some old fool droning on, reading verbatim from his “script,” on some subject nobody cares about but that he is obviously getting “paid” for, via “campaign contributions.”

  • Anthony

    The real reason that no one is going to do anything about the situation in the Ukraine is that no one genuinely cares about what is happening there. They will say that they care, but they really don’t. The Ukraine is right next to Russia, and has been within Russia’s traditional sphere of influence for hundreds of years. If we do not like this, we are free to oppose Russia’s moves by, say, sending guns to anti Russia groups in eastern Ukraine, and thereby hope to foment and insurgency. Don’t hold your breath. This scenario is right out of John Mearsheimer’s “Why Leaders Lie.” American Presidents love to pontificate about their concern for human rights, but at the end of the day their policies are dictated by strategic realities. And in reality, the Ukraine is not an American priority. Furthermore, it never was an American priority, even if American politicians claimed that it was.

    If you think this is bad, wait until China tries to “reunite” Taiwan with the mainland by force. I predict that we we learn two things from this scenario. First, we will see that China will not mind if trade is disrupted somewhat, as their desire for stability will be trumped by their overwhelming nationalist desire to show the world that their country will be united, no matter what “opinion leaders” in the west think about it. Second, we will see that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan actually won’t disrupt trade as much as some people think that it will. Big business, which is utterly besotted by the ocean of money available by selling in the Chinese market, will put immense pressure on the future President to acquiesce to the inevitable after a loud but largely ineffectual round of protesting.

    And it is not the upper middle class that is the source of our delusion. It is the upper class mantra that trade and capitalism will produce peace that is the source of confusion. Everyone thinks that a rich China will be a peaceful China in spite of the fact of the pronounced lack of evidence in support of this proposition.

    • Jim__L

      “Big business, which is utterly besotted by the ocean of money available by selling in the Chinese market”

      I have yet to see any evidence of this wish actually coming true. Have you had any better luck?

  • WalkingHorse

    Our self-appointed elites have little going for them aside from credentials and connections. A few appear to be rational, well-grounded folks – a tiny minority. Most of the rest I would not trust to walk dogs. Emphatically not *my* dogs.

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    I notice that in the photo of Obama on the phone with Putin he’s not holding the baseball bat like he did when talking with Pakistan.

  • ScottLoar

    A trenchant but refreshing critique that hits the spot. Thanks, and long overdue.

  • http://AmericanElephant.wordpress.com/ American Elephant

    Alternate Title: Liberals STUNNED that a former Communist KGB Dictator is behaving like a former Communist KGB Dictator.

    • royw

      KGB vs Affirmative Action J.D.

      No contest.

  • rickypastille

    “I’m shocked. Shocked I tell you, that there is still treachery in the Kremlin.” With that, Barack Obama, Claude Raines and Humphrey Bogart disappear into the mist. Fade to black.

  • Adam_Washington

    I’ll be persuaded by your argument when you armchair warriors go down to your local Marine recruiting station and sign up yourself or your children to fight and die in Ukraine.

    • Justwaitinforchange

      I don’t see anyone advocating that position. Truly a red herring statement, sir.

      • oparoberts

        Thank you! All of a sudden the options are 1. Do nothing or 2. sacrifice the grand kids.

        Of course when you are unprepared, it’s tougher. I certainly don’t have an answer. But I could devise a plan for the future that would include some lines in the sand that I’d adhere to.

  • Boxhawk

    Smashes cocoon? More like completely ignores irrelevant cocoon.

  • Anthony

    Power is mortgaged; repayments are inescapable (the glare of power sometimes bother people). Finally, effective offense begins with solid psychological preparation of the home front. These are a few sentiments to ponder as Ukraine remains topic…

  • ejochs

    Um, no, it won’t change Obama’s worldview one bit.

  • James Robb

    I share your insightful views on the current admin’s & main stream media’s hubris and self-aggrandizement. Given our mutual backgrounds, you and I must surely be counted in the minority of the “elitist” crowd…thankfully, too! GS’68

  • cleo48

    I can’t imagine why this wasn’t foreseen. The protests have been fomenting for months. Any armchair political wonk could have told you that if Russian influence over Ukrainian leadership was ever jeopardized, Putin would make a move to cover Russian military assets in the region, and then use it as a pretext for a territorial snatch. The Ukraine is about as sovereign from Russia as the US is from Mexico.

    • Justwaitinforchange

      Everyone over the age 45 saw this coming…..

      • bobw-66554432

        I’ld say everyone that wasn’t a hard core far left winger saw it coming. My son saw it coming and he’s 18…

  • brad lena

    Educated people result in informed dissent. Indoctrinated people result in compliance. Which one do you think the political ruling classes prefer?

  • Mark Hamilton

    Obama is not going to change. He does not even want to bother with foreign policy, aside from giving speeches full of platitudes. Even if the USA had a serious card to play in Ukraine Obama would not play it. To the extent Obama’s foreign policy has a theme, it’s the de facto creation of vacuums and the withdrawal of US power the world over. Everything pro-active is ad hoc initiatives from the Kerrys, Powers, etc. Obama is not providing and will not provide any strategic leadership.

    We have no cards to play here and lack the will to play any cards at all. Like, for instance, reaching back out to Poland, CZ Republic and the Slovak Republic to undo the mess Obama started his presidency with as a sign to Russia that we draw the line at Ukraine. Won’t happen under Obama.

    What is actually more disturbing is the reports that the US intelligence community was taken by surprise by what amounts to an obvious (if not inevitable) Russian move. You don’t need to be a Russia expert or have access to real-time intelligence to have seen this one coming. Russia was never going to let Ukraine slip into a western embrace and Putin derives what legitimacy he needs (to the extent he needs any at all) from precisely this sort of “victory” over the hapless West.

    That raises the question as to whether our intelligence community is hopelessly intellectually compromised or is it just politically compromised (i.e. telling the President only what he wants to hear). Pretty sad and dangerous state of affairs either way.

    • Suzyqpie

      If Pres Obama was interested in providing strategic leadership one of the first things he should do is shut down Samatha Power’s twitter account. It is a total debris field of asininity. If Pres Obama is capable of embarrassment, SPowers twitter account would delivery nothing else.

      • Kavanna

        She should have stayed in academia. Power wrote a reasonably good book on genocide. Outside academia, she’s lost.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoffrey-Britain/100003802091841 Geoffrey Britain

      “That raises the question as to whether our intelligence community is hopelessly intellectually compromised or is it just politically compromised (i.e. telling the President only what he wants to hear).”

      The majority of the intelligence community is “hopelessly intellectually compromised” the rest are politically compromised. That was the case even under Bush, as it started under Clinton. The rot has simply spread further.

  • teapartydoc

    Palin saw it coming. It just makes sense that bullies go after low-hanging fruit. Compulsively.

    • Kavanna

      Yes. To be fair, Palin didn’t predict anything. But she, and Romney, saw the danger.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoffrey-Britain/100003802091841 Geoffrey Britain

        Au contraire! “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next” Palin said on the stump in the 2008 campaign.”

      • bilejones

        What “danger”?

        None of this, midwifed by the crazy neo-cons has any impact on the American people.

        The Crimea is Russian to a far greater degree than California is American.

  • Nedwardsf

    Putin Burst Obama’s bubble.

    • Kavanna

      It’s been deflating for a while. But what he said about “gradually, followed by suddenly.”

  • oparoberts

    A bankrupt ex-millionaire was asked how he became bankrupt; his answer,”Gradually and very suddenly”

    We are experiencing the “very suddenly” part of a bankrupt foreign policy. The “gradually” part has been happening “gradually” for five years.

    Remember how we got Joe ‘Gaffe Man’ Biden as VP? He would be our foreign policy “Designator Hitter”, our RBI guy. So much for that. Out in front of Joe we got seasoned, foreign policy experienced Hillary who thought the more air miles she logged the greater her State Department legacy would be. She hadn’t even served on the foreign affairs committee.

    So our foreign policy triumvirate…..Obama, Hillary, Biden…..is feckless to put it mildly.

    One doesn’t re-roof the house in a rainstorm. We haven’t had a constant rainstorm the past five years; we’ve had many opportunities to do it but “very gradually” we have absolutely failed.

    The report of the President’s conversation with Putin is an embarrassment….. LMAO is what I think Putin’s reaction might be to that conversation.

    • Joseph Shmeau

      I believe that is actually an Ernest Hemingway quotation. Asked how he went bankrupt, he answered, “Gradually at first, then all at once.”

      As for “mindless Tea Party Republicans”, it looks like Professor Mead forgot to post the Humor Warning.

    • bilejones

      ” The “gradually” part has been happening “gradually” for five years.”

      The gradually part has been happening since Truman.

  • Jonathan_Silber

    How can anyone be considered “Well educated” who finds it “very hard to believe that other people actually see the world in different ways”?

    • Suzyqpie

      Perhaps because of the difference between “well educated” and being, simply credentialed. Maybe occupying space in academia for X number of years doesn’t always provide an education, especially if one arrives in academia thinking academia will be the beneficence of their exalted presence.

    • royw

      Even his education is suspect. His intelligence is beyond suspect.

  • bscook111

    Obama is incompetent but cunning. Not a combination suitable to the office he holds. WRM touched the truth in describing the hermetically sealed liberal mindset. Pajama Boy simply can’t imagine that what Matt Damon portrays in film could possibly be true. It’s simply a video game. In the words of the immortal Billy Phelan: “Where do these bedbugs come from?”

  • petegross

    I know, I know. obama should really show Putin what he thinks of him. First obama should unfriend Putin on Facebook. Then obama should show Putin his nobel prize to impress him. Then he should go on The View and show Putin how ” hip ” he is.

    Finally, he can challenge Putin to a game of one on one basketball. But Putin will need to keep his hands at his sides and promise not to block any of the messiah’s shots.

    Wow, do we have a leader or what? I think the answer is ” or what “.

    • Suzyqpie

      Unfriending people on Facebook constitutes inflammatory, incendiary, & belligerent behavior. I do not advocate Pres 0bama taking that unprecedented action at this point in this international altercation. I believe a sternly worded tweet or an incredibly small linkedin message would be a more appropriate tactic. If the imperialistic behavior of Russia continues, the more provocative unfriending option will remain open. WMD such as unfriending on Facebook could escalate this testosterone theatre prematurely and set off an international chain-of-events from which we could not withdraw. If international tension continues to escalate after all Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin options are exhausted, as the very last option there is the UN….

    • bobw-66554432

      Don’t forget golf, Obama could challenge Putin to a round of golf for world domination, and bribe Putins caddy to switch in those silly golf balls that won’t roll straight into Putin’s bag. Not sure how that would all work though, because it appears Obama’s bag is empty of everything but echoes of words…

      • royw

        Sorry, we have seen Obama throw a baseball, ride a bike, shoot a shotgun, and bowl (the only time his athletic attempts have not been edited.)

        Regardless the competition, my money would be on Putin.

        • bilejones

          Shirt-lifting?

  • Fat_Man

    “if President Obama chooses to stick with the
    ideas and approaches he’s been using so far.”

    Right now, based on what I have seen over the last five years, his learning curve is f(x)=0.

  • BJOSEPHS

    Urkel meets a bully. What result were we expecting? I read a great headline somewhere, “Russian tanks attacked with verbs & adjectives.”

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Thanks for the laugh. It’s sorely needed these days.

  • BJOSEPHS

    I wonder what Poland & Slovakia are thinking?

    • Laurence Daley

      1920…

  • capn obvious

    you would think with the importance of the situation in ukrain, someone, anyone from the whitehouse would be available for comment? nope. most incompetent and self-consciouse administration ever.

    • Suzyqpie

      One option, you can follow Samantha Power on twitter. I would not advocate that unless you have a very high tolerance for the emetic coupled with a clear understanding that some human behavior simply can’t be explained.

  • pabarge

    You know what is horrific about this piece and the lead author for this site? Walter Russell Mead – voted for Barack Obama.

    Think about that for a minute. Walter Russell Mead voted for Barack Obama. The Grand Canyon of cluelessness is not in Arizona.

    • juandos

      Walter Russell Mead voted for Barack Obama. The Grand Canyon of cluelessness is not in Arizona“…

      LOL!

      Do you think Mead has been having any 2nd thoughts at all about that vote?

      Do you think Mead feels even a little bit embarrassed by his choices?

      Love it!!

      Here’s something to chuckle about…

      Is Putin picking on Dear Leader?

  • http://jonlester.tv/ Jon Lester

    As a private citizen who’s cared enough to learn about other parts of the world and their particular dynamics, I’m increasingly appalled at how much the American ruling class and their attendants in the for-profit media establishment forge their conventional wisdom from ignorance and lies. It’s not that difficult; an active interest and a little humility can go a long way towards improving one’s understanding of the world.

  • FarmBoy11B

    maybe the administration should remember that actual governing isn’t the same as an episide of the “West Wing”
    Also, Russia invades Ukraine, Samantha power ‘tweets’ a denunciation? who really was that tweet for? see point #1 above

  • JackTors2012

    Of course, the overriding point that WRM only intimates is that progressives remain so committed to the notion of Obama as Savior of Mankind that it is difficult-if not impossible-for them to acknowledge his complete lack of the skills requisite for effective leadership as POTUS. It’s cognitive dissonance, pure and simple.

  • Laurence Daley

    The news that we were going to junk the A-10 tank killer
    must have entered Putin’s calculations/
    Although that plane is old, it is designed to destroy TANKs, especially the some of Soviet ones that Putin has

    If one is old enough to recall it was the antique Swordfish torpedo biplanes planes
    that mortally damaged the Bismark in WWII
    And surely newer electronics, lighter armor and better armanent
    can be developed to up grade those Warthogs….

    • bobw-66554432

      The flesh is unwilling and the brain is weak…

  • Laurence Daley

    strange as it may seem
    the only thing that may hold Putin back
    from swallowing the whole Ukraine
    are those mad Islamists crazies
    who will strike hard in their crazy way if he is occupied elsewhere

  • Laurence Daley

    And let us pause
    to remember the long dead Ukranians,
    that Stalin killed, and who piled up
    against the houses of the living
    like leaves in the fall….

  • inyouri

    All one has to do is take a look at the state of this country, look where the so called leaders and academics are educated and you have your answer. While they are busy patting themselves on their backs the other world leaders pass them buy unnoticed. But hey, they still got global warming to make them feel good. In general liberals not only lie to everyone else but also to themselves.

  • bob lynch

    You nailed it. I could never understand why Obama, with a straight face, lectured Putin about gay marriage when Obama himself only last year evolved into accepting it.

  • andrewp111

    Obama doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what Putin does in Ukraine. Obama only cares about his domestic legacy. Completing the implementation of the Socialization of Medicine is the only thing that matters to him (and his party) at all.

  • Diggsc

    It’s pretty difficult to see what going on in the world when you are spending most of your waking day sucking on Obama’s d1ck. Pretty much all these people know of the world around them is what Obama’s bellybutton looks like.

  • bobw-66554432

    There is a vast difference between being “credentialed” versus “well educated” versus “wise.”

    Years ago someone made the comment to me that a particular individual was “smart, but didn’t didn’t have enough common sense to come in out of the rain.”

    I fear that now partially applies to this administration. Most of them appear to be not very smart even though “credentialed”, a few are “well educated” but concerned only with their own personal agenda, and the rest just aren’t very “wise”.

  • mertsj

    Have you ever heard of a member of The Liberal Mob succumbing to logic and/or reason?

  • Melissa Lanza

    So…just the like the rest of whatever Obama does, it looks like that reset button didn’t work too well.

  • Jum1801

    “A crisis that no one anticipated”? In the Universe of Clueless Leftists maybe. Because anyone down here not blinded by the glory of Emperor Neo’s new clothes saw this coming since, well, the last time Putin did it.

  • Prospector

    If Putin’s armies were composed of middle-aged, upper middle class, empty-nesters wearing tri-corner hats or bonnets and waving Gadsdan flags and shouting “Taxed Enough Already!”, you know he would be all over this. His Legion of IRS would have been mobilized in minutes.

    • Prospector

      “General Pelosi is in charge.”

      • Kavanna

        Obama does have enemies, but they’re at home.

        • Prospector

          Better get General Pelosi on the phone.

  • PDQuig

    Obama is incapable of change. I doubt whether there has ever been anyone in public life who has been as certain of his infallibility. An admission of failure is prerequisite to a mature individual making course corrections. Obama is clearly not intellectually secure or mature enough to accept responsibility for the staggering volume of evidence of his incompetence, ignorance, and folly. It will be very interesting when we learn–well after it would have made any difference–that Obama was a mediocre student with mediocre test scores. The first affirmative action president with quite predictable consequences.

    • Suzyqpie

      Pres 0bama’s academic records are a debris field of failure, mediocrity, and nonfeasance, which is why they are locked up tight. If they were anything else, bandwidth would have to double or triple to facilitate the web traffic touting the scholarship.

  • jvermeer51

    Through the course of the 20th century, huge numbers of the left were able to excuse, explain or ignore the genocidal nature of their favorite progressive regimes. What makes you think some epiphany is going to happen now, to this most ideological of Presidents.

    • Prospector

      Every tyrant of the 20th century considered themselves to be “progressive”. Robert Mugabe thinks he’s a progressive.

  • royw

    Egomaniacs do not “change”…at least for the better.

  • hdc77494

    You are WAY too kind. The Washington policy establishment is paid to NOT live in a bubble. They’re surprised that other people might see situations differently from them?? Sarah Palin, that supposedly dim-witted soccer mom saw this coming in 2008 when Obama waffled over Georgia. How could our State Department, intelligence services prove themselves so grossly incompetent?

  • Super Genius

    Not only does our liberal elite misunderstand much of the rest of the world, it’s deluding itself about its own competency

  • CosmotKat

    “As far as we can tell, the default assumption guiding our political leadership these days is that the people on the other side of the bargaining table (unless they are mindless Tea Party Republicans) are fundamentally reasonable people who see the world as we do, and are motivated by the same things that motivate us.”
    There you go. The key here is in parenthesis, “The mindless Tea Party Republicans.” I have news for the writer and the so-called academics and elites. These Tea Party people probably have a better grasp of not only our constitutional rights and philosophies, but geopolitics as well. This feckless community organizer masquerading as our president, is not worried about what Putin is going to do, but rather he has enabled him so that Obama can continue sowing chaos within the borders of the U.S.A. Perhaps we now know the flexibility Obama so famously whispered out to Medvedev.

    • JMHanes

      I took “mindless Tea Party Republicans” as an ironic reference to the kind of myopic liberal mindset which casts Putin, for example, as a rational actor, while treating the Tea Party as a brutish threat to the democratic order.

      • Prospector

        If Putin wore a tri-corner hat, Obama would be treating this situation very differently.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Agree.

  • TBill

    I wonder if the deterioration in our relations with Russia will have an impact on our withdrawal from Afghanistan. I seem to remember that when I deployed there 3 years ago that our plane passed over Russian airspace both coming and going. Why would Mr. Putin allow our planes to transit after Mrs Nuland and the EU helped engineer this coup in Ukraine? Hope the brilliant folks leading our country have a plan B to get the troops out. Perhaps a Taliban honor guard to take us through Pakistan.
    I think that Spengler at PJ Media had the best take on the situation in Ukraine. A partition is probably a very reasonable solution and perhaps the best we can hope for if the Russians permit it. And please don’t get me started on the irony that a former KGB officer is doing more to help Christians persecuted in the Middle East than any other secular leader on the planet, while our leaders in America and the EU natter on about gay rights and Pussy Riot. God help us.

  • WilliamK

    Mead votes for Obama and is just now figuring this all out. You haavaad types need to listen to the former gov of Alaska. Yep, Palin is smarter than you!!!!

  • valwayne

    Obama has done the same thing with N Korea, Egypt, Syria, and Iran. He and his INCOMPETENT STUPID Regime never learn. A homeless 6th grade dropout could have told you that, after Syria, Putin had assessed Obama as a weak, ineffective, worthless, INCOMPETENT, Do Nothing leader who he could roll over with ease. After that it was easy to see that he would invade Ukraine under these circumstances. Our problem is that our national security folks are corrupt, INCOMPETENT, LYING Obama minions like Amb Rice and Sec Hagel. They are more intent on gutting the U.S. military than doing anything about the tyrants of the world, like Putin and Assad, as the run amok murdering and killing FREEDOM. The world is getting more and more dangerous because we have an unfit President screwing everything up. Yet Obama and his corrupt team are making us weaker and weaker, both economically and militarily. Wake up people Obama and the Democrats are doing more and more damage and our freedom and security is in danger.

    • banderlogtorpedo

      It is not incompetence that explains Obama’s actions, he is working toward what he wants to see realized. I think Putin knows that Obama wants America weakened as a viable deterrent to dictatorial tyranny around the world, and that Obama wants him to succeed in punishing his enemies in Ukraine just like Obama would in Arizona, or the Tea Party, or any one who votes against him. They are both collectivist tyrants at heart, however much Putin holds Obama in contempt.The last time we had collectivist tyrants facing each other we had Stalin and Hitler, with about 8,000,000 combatants, going at it over the same ground. Interesting times dead ahead.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Many, many parallels to pre-war Germany, almost surreal.

  • OldmanRick

    Wake up dims. Putin is worried about the loss of his military base and port facilities, and he will use whatever force necessary to protect those interests..

    • bilejones

      correct.

  • Winston Smith

    He didn’t smash Washington’s cocoon, he smashed Barry’s.

  • Wyomingdude

    Nature and dictators hate a vacuum. The vacuum between obamas ears regarding geopolitical issues is certainly evident. A prediction – Assad uses chemical weapons in the next week so see if that red line is back.

    And Obama will go on a vacation or a fundraising trip.

    • banderlogtorpedo

      President Mick…er Minnie Mouse will ask Beyonce what to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Geoffrey-Britain/100003802091841 Geoffrey Britain

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.
    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.
    The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president”. Václav Klaus (former Premier of the Czech Republic)

    • Prospector

      Rather awesome.

  • http://www.picsofcelebrities.net/blog/2012/05/08/voice-season-finale Cromulent

    “Has he rethought his conviction that geopolitics and strategy are relics of a barbarous past with no further relevance in our own happy day?”

    Of course not. Not a chance.

  • Mark Berlind

    Professor Mead eloquently makes some important points as usual, but is overly-generous to Obama and the credentialed elite that backs him in 3 important ways:

    First, WRM continues to assume — against mounting evidence to the contrary — that President Obama actually WANTS, in good faith, to advance America’s interests in the world; that he WANTS the USA to maintain its preeminent status. Sadly, the opposite is true; Obama affirmatively desires to see America withdraw from the world stage and divert defense resources into his favored dependency-enshrining domestic agenda, just as the UK did after WWII. His serial list of foreign policy failures, from Egypt to Syria to Benghazi to Iran through the now clearly-disastrous “reset” with Russia, all share a willful insistence that the US withdraw from world leadership on critical issues. All in keeping with Obama’s rhetoric, both while running for President and in office, regarding the purported crimes and missteps of our country and the need for us to not be seen as imposing anything on anyone. The conclusion that he’s a proactive advocate for American decline is inescapable to all who have the will to look.

    Which brings us to the second way in which WRM is over-generous: his assumption that the Legacy media actually WANTS to report events fairly (but are just blinded by their credentialed upbringing) when in fact — as WRM himself points out frequently and with great wit — their over-arching concern is to portray everything Obama does as pure, good, brilliant and right. While Obama’s desire to weaken America is clear, it remains (at least for now) politically untenable to acknowledge this intent explicitly. And yet, while Obama is himself to blame for his squandered credibility (see list of serial failures above) on the world stage, the Legacy media has utterly failed to “call him on it” — and create appropriately restraining political costs — by accurately depicting, for example, the Syrian peace talks as a sham, the Iran nuclear “deal” as a farce and the Benghazi fiasco as both the inevitable consequence of Obama’s terrible decision to help depose the Libyan government and an unprincipled assault (both blaming that movie and then jailing the film-maker) on our most important First Amendment freedoms. The media’s continuing enabling of these shocking failures has both demonstrated to Obama that he can continue to get away with them and reduced his incentive to act strongly in the National interest. Moreover, by playing along with the faux “processes” around Syria and Iran that both depend entirely on Russia’s good will to keep the illusion going, the press has created a situation where Obama’s entire house of foreign policy cards would collapse if he opposes Putin with any muscularity over Ukraine. It will require traditionally adversarial media coverage on a consistent basis to stiffen Obama’s resolve to address all of these inter-related situations in a manner contrary to his (unacknowledged) declinist agenda.

    Finally, WRM is too kind by crediting our leaders with even the good intentions of assuming that Putin shares our logic and values; the fact is that Obama and Kerry have tilted into full-blown appeasement (not for the first time) over Ukraine. Note Kerry’s pathetically lame statements this morning on Sunday TV about how Russia’s “legitimate concerns” about “Russian speaking people” in Ukraine. Is that now the principle upon which our foreign policy will be based? Or could we reasonably expect a minimally competent Secretary of State who truly wants to protect American interests to point out that Russia has no such “legitimate concerns”, any more than Saudi Arabia could intervene on behalf of Arabic speakers (or Muslims) in Russia, the USA could invade Venezuela to protect English speakers there or China should be given license to interfere in Taiwan on behalf of Mandarin speakers in that country? These are the bleatings of weak, dishonest men who are digging a deeper hole for the National interest with every new utterance and every frightening new turn in rhetoric, illogic, policy and inaction.

    • Wyomingdude

      Good post.

      • cometboy

        Not really. This isn’t about Obama trying to weaken us. It isn’t about his appeasement policies. This is about a US policy of democratization that dates back to Bush and of expanding NATO which dates back to Clinton. The central philosophy is right, but it basically resides in a fantasy world where history never happened and everyone else shares our values. They were foolish ideas when Bush had them and they’re foolish now.

        It’s actually not clear what the US could have done once the protests led to the downfall of the government. This seemed inevitable. The failure, and it is a bipartisan one, was to have been involved in Eastern Europe in the first place. By supporting Ukraine’s entry to the EU and NATO and by taking any level of involvement in the anti-government movement there, the US (which was simply following the Bush and Clinton polices of expanding NATO to the doorstep of Russia) simply shoved a stick in the side of the Russian bear once too often.

        Putin is going to take Ukraine and put in his hand picked authoritarian. His point will be clear. Stay OUT of our sphere of influence. Honestly, I’m surprised he held back this long. If Russia were expanding it’s treaty organizations to include Mexico, would *we* sit back and take it? Hardly.

        The real question is why the US has been pursing this course in the first place. Both parties seem to want to ‘get tough’ with Putin and expand EU/NATO influence toward the East. Why? Well, Ukraine might pose a human rights dilemma, but human rights dilemmas can’t start a nuclear war with us. Kerry’s ‘legitimate concerns’ signals that we now get this. The fact that there actually IS a large Russian (and pro Russia) population in the Ukraine is a convenient fig leaf. But the real truth is that we’re not ready to die over the Ukraine and that is by no means clear that Putin isn’t.

        Appeasement is an ugly word. It’s also the wrong one. ‘Overreach’ is more apt. We should never have gotten involved there if it risked triggering Russian action. Now that it has, we need to accept that this was a bridge too far, or we need to decide that we want to risk nuclear annihilation over this invasion. The Obama administration’s mistake is also Bush’s and Clinton’s. They have all be more provocative than weak, but were bluffing with a bad hand. Can we rattle sabers and put Putin back in his box without triggering all out war? Are you ready to take that risk with your children’s lives? I know *my* answer.

        • Joseph Lammers

          I pretty much agree. Putin is a dictator and a thug, but there is little we can do about his intervention in the Ukraine and we have no vital interests there. Obama has a habit of drawing red lines that we either can’t or won’t keep. It makes us look both foolish and weak.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Far too many of the leftist liberal elites believe the enemy to be traditional American values. They arrogantly believe the rest of the world will love the US simply because of our elitist leaders.

    • banderlogtorpedo

      “Traditional American values” aka a sincere relation to reality.

    • Ready… for Prison

      “… the big difference here… [is] you’ve got me. We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

      —You-Know-Who

      Actually, he was right. It does make a really big difference when one decides to wield a pen and a phone.

  • Bernard Scherr

    Once again, Mead hits the nail on the head. Just read his fantastic book—God and Gold, about British/American domination of world over three centuries..Quite a work.

  • dmreiter

    Both Sara Palin and Mitt Romney predicted this would happen. Obviously, very dumb and narrow minded people to predict such a thing. As for the educated chattering class, all one needs is an historical perspective from Russia’s point of view, an understanding of the dynamics of power, and empathy. Put yourself in Putin’s shoes. He is doing exactly what Russian leaders have always done. For the same reasons.

    As to those elite intellectuals who seek utopia….probably not.

  • Dave6034

    Different nations have different selection criteria for the ruling class, e.g. America is a democracy, while Russia is a darwinocracy. This leads to profound misunderstandings at summit meetings — the Americans can’t believe that the Russians are so evil, while the Russians can’t believe that the Americans are so naive (it must be a trick to make the Russians let down their guard!).

    I take that back — the Russians have finally figured out that Obama’s naivete is genuine, and they intend to take full advantage of it over the next three years.

    • ptm

      Putin KNEW the INCOMPETENCE of this administration BEFORE O Bumbler took office, just listen to his crappola in ’08. Then of course the RESET button, it just verified what he already KNEW!

  • Corlyss

    A Politico report calls it “a crisis that no one anticipated.”

    Not hardly. It was anticipated when Putin invaded Georgia. At least Duffus-in-Chief didn’t call a presser to ask both sides to show “restraint” like he did when Georgia bled. If Politico and the class it represents, including the dweebs allegedly running administration foreign and domestic policy, didn’t see it coming, it’s because they have been imbibing the Kool-Aid dispensed by the Obama spin machine since 2004. Okay, folks. Ya gots yer First Black President and his America-destroying policies. Time to wakey wakey.

    • Ready… for Prison

      The West Wing has smelled rather like Romper Room for the past five years, no?

      • Corlyss

        Agreed. But I’d go back even further than 5 years. Make that 10. Bush’ second term was a complete waste of time and space except for the Iraqi surge, which Obama has managed to waste. Democrat kleptocrats began reversing everything he did as soon as the took the Congress.

  • PierrePendre

    Notwithstanding that Obama’s entire foreign policy has been wrongheaded and inept, he’s as snookered in the Ukraine/Crimea as Eisenhower was over Hungary in 1956 and would be even if he’d done everything else right. Military intervention is unthinkable and in other areas, he needs the Russians more than they need him.

    Now that the usual knee jerk Western media assumption that any revolution against any sitting government must necessarily be a good thing has died down, Obama and the EU need to wonder whether they did the right thing in Kiev. It’s far from sure that it was.

  • Midwicket

    We should just stay out of it with some meaningless warnings to Putin from time to time. That should be the best policy. Getting rid of a democratically elected president by street protests is not something that should have been supported by people in the west. Ukraine is Russia’s backyard and the eastern part is heavily populated by ethnic Russians. It is understandable what Putin is doing.

  • ShadrachSmith

    “The failed U.S. reset policy is an exact copy of appeasement pursued by Western powers right up to the beginning of World War II.” – Victor Davidoff

    And compared to Obama, Neville Chamberlain was a giant.

  • kenpuck

    A man convinced against his will
    Is of the same opinion still.

    One-world kumbaya is a belief among lefties as strong as that of the Jesuits.
    Nothing — not proof, not evidence, not logic — will cause Obama to change his mind by a jot or a tittle. Think idée fixe.

    Machiavelli he ain’t.

  • Ed Paul

    Good foreign-policy requires an in-depth knowledge of history, culture and geography. However, the human dimension in foreign affairs often is given short shrift especially by this administration. The fact is that Vladamir Putin has concluded that he can take President Obama’s lunch money anytime he wants. This is obvious to anyone who has attended an ordinary public high school and not an exclusive prep school or Sidwell Friends Academy.The danger of this situation is that Putin may miscalculate someday and humiliate the President in a way that even he cannot ignore. This is not to say that the President has any good options at this point. But, his “restraint” in Iran and Syria have emboldened Putin immeasurably.

  • Joseph Lammers

    This is a good article, and does well at capturing the mindset of most of our elites and the cocoon that it ensconces them in.

    • SolidBro

      I would suggest “in which they are ensconced” as a preferred construction.

      • Joseph Lammers

        Point taken.

  • garyw631

    The quoted Senate aid does not know his azz from a hole in the ground. Had he listened to Palin he would not have been surprised.

  • radioone

    Of course all our “betters” said the same thing. The “Journolist” still exists, just in another form, somewhere.

  • pilsener

    “The big question of course, is what President Obama will take away from this experience.”

    Foreign affairs seem to be an annoyance to Obama. He seems comfortable pushing the big government, more spending, more regulation, more control, politically correct agenda. He’s given up any pretense of following the law, telling the truth, or working with the states or Congress on solving any problems.

    The entire matter of Ukraine will be quickly delegated to his surrogates and Obama will go back to being the President Obama of empty words and promises.

  • SolidBro

    Dear World, We apologize for having a useless, naive, incapable, uninterested, chucklehead empty-suit for President of the US. Please have Frau Merkel and Mister Cameron take over the lead for the West. We are sorry we are unable to furnish the typical leader of Western alliances, the US President, but the office is essentially non-functional at present.

    However, if you would like some NCAA basketball tournament bracket picks, then we have just the guy for you.

    Regards,
    People of the United States of America

  • JMHanes

    Hasn’t the question of what President Obama will take away from this kind of experience been asked and answered countless times? He has apparently learned virtually nothing about Iran since his thoughtless remarks in the presidential primaries, a full 6 years ago. It seems patently clear that he has almost zero interest in foreign affairs, except as they affect his domestic politics and his presidential image. International events are the ultimate in “distractions;” he is only truly responsive to internal pressures. When compelled to act, he is careful to spread the responsibility and risks around. Who can forget the widely publicized White House seminars which supposedly produced his time stamped “surge” in Afghanistan? Or the trio of ladies credited with pushing for “kinetic military action” in Libya? The take away from that disaster was a return to the generic admonishments which typify Obama’s rhetorical approach to foreign policy, devoid of any substantive strategic vision by which to chart a coherent course through the global minefield. The idea that diplomacy might get smarter, with John Kerry as the President’s newest mentor, strikes me as a true triumph, if not chimera, of hope. Alas, I fear the next three years trying to push a damage control boulder uphill will be both long and fraught with despair.

  • gommygoomy

    You spelled “Coon” wrong.

    • Black_Saint

      Is it spelled Obama.

      • gommygoomy

        Same thing.

  • Banned_by_KBTX

    The people who rise through the competitive bureaucracies of American academic, media and think tank life tend to be those who’ve most thoroughly absorbed and internalized the set of beliefs and behavioral norms that those institutions embody and respect. On the whole, those beliefs and norms have a lot going for them. It would not be an improvement if America’s elite institutions started to look more like their counterparts in Russia or Zimbabwe.

    I like Mead’s writings, but in this case he seems to be behind the curve. These bureaucracies have certain aspects of Zimbabwe and Russia already ingrained in them. There is the racism of Zimbabwe ( a.k.a. affirmative action) and the gangster government of Russia (the IRS targeting of Obama’s political opponents, NSA spying, Fast & Furious, Solyndra, etc.). The gap between Zimbabwe and Russia on one hand and the US on the other is closing fast, and the evidence suggests we have already reached a tipping point.

    • StoutCortez

      At least we’re not yet holding show trials and performing summary executions.

      Not yet, anyway.

  • jvermeer51

    On the last day of the Olympics, I said to my wife, “OK, now Putin can begin killing people.” Wasn’t it obvious?

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Yes, the restraint of being on the sports world stage was removed and, bingo!

  • pbab

    “We all share a common interest in a stable and prosperous Ukraine. We may think that’s true, but Putin doesn’t.” That is the essence of the situation. You could substitute “Ukraine” with any country or situation and it would be true regarding Putin. What gets me is that progs never learn. Their naive approach is rebuffed time and again, yet they forge ahead anyway. They are so predictable, it’s more than embarrassing. On Thursday, the day before Russian tanks roll, we have Kerry announcing to the world that Russia will respect Ukrainian sovereignty, “calm will prevail”. Doh!

  • Think Free

    The cocoon is about to get schooled. Not just by Putin. But turning towards Bush view of world won’t be happening any time soon. Too much of the American left’s world view is vested in a new geopolitical paradigm that has emphasis on happy talk over show of strength. Hilary’s reset button gift to Russian diplomat is going to come back to haunt her.

    • CFL68

      Stupid partisanship is stupid.

      What’s your proposal? War? Oh wait, that’s stupid.

      Did Bush invade Russia over Georgia?

      All we can do is put together solid coalition to isolate Russia and impose ‘costs.’ Ruble has already taken a hit and nothing has been done.

      • StoutCortez

        Who’s advocating invading Russia? The point is that Obama, by being weak, incompetent, and naive, invites these kind of problems.

        • CFL68

          LOL so Russia’s unwillingness to allow a Ukrainian satellite to wander from its orbit is Obama’s fault. What a surprise.

          That’s some pretty deep thinking. You should congratulate yourself.

          • Black_Saint

            Its all Bush fault! If not his then is Sarah Palin for suggesting he would do this and planting the idea in Putin head!

            It sure will not be Obama,s because like most members of his Race in the USA they are not personally responsible for any of their actions.

      • Think Free

        We don’t need a war. What we could use is some realism. The administration can stop with silly talk of resetting relationships. They can stop pretending we don’t have enemies that mean us harm. We can put in the missile defense system that bothered Putin. The guy is a KGB thug, he respects strength.

        • CFL68

          Lol – I think its important to look into his soul.

          I agree we need realism. Americans need to stop pretending that we are so powerful that everything that happens in the world is up to us. That is arrogant and completely delusional.

          Russia has decided to crush the legitimate aspirations of Ukrainians. They are doing it because they can. It has nothing to do with what a US President does or doesn’t do thousands of miles away. This isn’t about the US. This is about Russia pursuing what it thinks are its vital national interests. You don’t have to look far to find similar examples of US aggression. Heck, we invaded Grenada to protect a dozen med students. Remember? Russia has far more things at stake in Crimea than we had in Grenada.

          • Think Free

            Well said. That look into Putin’s soul might have been obscured by special KGB contact lenses. I agree with you, it is a big world. A little complication with Ukraine is the deal to protect their sovereignty in exchange for having given up their nukes.

          • bilejones

            “The legitimate aspirations of Ukrainians”?

            The had a legitimately elected government that faced elections next year.
            The whack job neocon thugs in the US have been fucking around in Ukraine since 1989.
            The vile shrike Nuland boasted of having spent $5 Billion of US tax paters money interfering in a country of no interest whatsover to the people of the US.

          • CFL68

            Sure bubba. Sorry for all your pain.

        • keithpridgeon

          He is not a KGB thug, he is a KGB intelligence officer and counter insurgency specialist, much much scarier than a thug.

          • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

            He does have thuggish tendencies.

          • bilejones

            Compared to Barry’s regularly scheduled sessions every Tuesday to decide who to murder by drone?

      • keithpridgeon

        There is no cost, including war that will deter Putin from his path in Ukraine.

        • CFL68

          If the path is Crimea that’s fine. There will be a cost and he will pay it. Things get more dicey if this escalation takes on a life of its own and things get out of control in eastern Ukraine.

          • keithpridgeon

            A month from now two on the outside, Spetnas will be in Kiev as “peacekeepers”

          • CFL68

            Maybe. That sounds extreme, and would be very costly for russia. Putin can get Crimea for cheap. Anything further and the unpredictability factor takes over. Ukrainians would likely resist and take a huge toll on the Russians. Russia could never win. Large urban areas would be murder holes for everyone involved. Not to mention long term costs of creating overtly hostile enemies on its borders.

            Russian thugs in the east could make things spiral out of control. I don’t think Putin wants this and he may have over played his hand.

            The LAST thing the US needs to do is get directly involved.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Excellent point. I can see it now in a campaign ad:

      Hillary pressing the reset button with videos of tanks and soldiers rushing the Ukraine border playing in the background!

  • Don’t Tase Me Bro

    Stopped reading after I read “the people on the other side of the bargaining table (unless they are mindless Tea Party Republicans) are fundamentally reasonable people”….realized the writer was in the same “cocoon” of thinking he was accusing others of being in…too bad

    • StoutCortez

      I stopped to pause there, too, but I think Mead was being ironic, i.e., the only people Obama and his crowd will attack are the group they make out to be extremist radicals and nuts. They see the real enemy as American patriots who believe in the U.S. Constitution. But the North Korean nut, Al-Qaeda, vicious dictators, etc.—they can be reasoned with.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Really, don’t stop reading, otherwise you miss the point and you are closing yourself to expanding knowledge. I, too, believe Mead was being ironic in light of the whole analysis and taking context into consideration.

  • Black_Saint

    We needed a bigger-than-life President – we got …..A Radical Left wing Chicago Ghetto organizer that organized mob of takers to blackmail the makers that has been surrounded and tutored by American hating racists, terrorist and Marxist all of his life!

    We needed a well-grounded stable President – we got a certifiable narcissist.

    We needed bold leadership – we got a teleprompter

    We needed a seasoned hand – we got a hand in in our pockets

    We needed a champion for American citizens… We got hate for the Makers and a champion for the Takers and love for the uneducated horde of invading Welfare Democrats.

    We needed a skilled bridge builder – we got a class-warfare specialist and inciter-in-chief.

    We needed practical, proven policies – we got socialist dogma and monumental waste

    We needed an inspirational visionary – we got an ideologically blinded, left learning-impaired radical.

    We needed a Constitutional champion – we got a domestic enemy of the Constitution.

    We needed a restrained, respected and intimidating warrior – we got groveling, bowing, Barney Fife

    We needed a patriot – we got G. D. America, G. D. America, G. D. America.

    We needed someone to unshackle our economy – we got someone who is a friend to our enemies and an enemy to our businesses

    We needed a president beyond color – we got a green president embracing every whim and myth ever spoken by the kook environmental fringe.

    We needed mature, principled leadership – we got a petulant, lying, whining, blaming, sulking, accusing, excusing, lazy, cowardly, despicable, man-child.

    It is a national disgrace that someone this Lazy, this Incompetent, This Corrupt, This Racist, could be elected to the office of the Presidency.

    • chrismalllory

      The president is not our leader. He is our employee. We needed someone who would leave us alone and force the US government to mind it’s own business.

  • smedley

    If Obama was a true realist then he would not have pulled out the missile defense system from Poland and Czech Republic, he would right now be bolstering U.S. defenses in the Baltics – a little military exercise like “Operation Retake Simferopol” with Marines practicing landing in Estonia might get Moscow’s attention. Putin understands one thing, naked force, he respects it – like any true realist – and will back down in the face of it. The clown brigade – Obama, Kerry, Hagel – running foreign policy today offers little threat and receives little respect in the world.

    • Black_Saint

      Hard to believe so many idiots could come together in the same party!

      • smedley

        They came together on election day and voted.

    • chrismalllory

      How many Americans are you willing to get killed defending Ukraine? How much American treasure are you willing to spend defending Ukraine?

      • smedley

        Gee, you jump from military exercises right to World War III. I hope you don’t have your finger on any buttons.

      • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

        Peace through strength. That’s what we’re talking about……………duh.

    • keithpridgeon

      Realist know that the peace of parchment is tenuous and only last as long as all parties concerned have more to gain than lose by agreeing to it.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      “Clown brigade”. Priceless.

  • Black_Saint

    No world leader Likes, Respect or Trust Obama he has proven to over his head sappy unrealistic and totally lost. He is grossly incompetent both at home and abroad.

    What we have elected is a Lazy, Incompetent, inexperience lawless President that loves to make Promises, Lies and fund raising by giving teleprompter readings to his cult members but otherwise thinks his remaining time is for golf, vacations and partying hard on the taxer,s money!

    • glcinpdx

      But, but, but….he won the Nobel Peace Prize!!! The Russians and PootiePoot HAVE to listen to him!! /s

    • bilejones

      “What we have elected is a Lazy, Incompetent, inexperience, lawless
      President that loves to make Promises, Lies and fund raising”

      one more time.

  • Black_Saint

    The only people that fears Obama and his people are Citizens in the USA.

    They see every day the destructions and harm of his policies to this Nation and its citizens. With Obama and his administration we do not need enemies they are destroying us faster then any enemy could or would.

  • chrismalllory

    Nothing happening in Ukraine is any business or responsibility of the United States or our government.

    • glcinpdx

      The Signatories of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances would beg to differ…

  • skullbuster

    I think the author missed the point. Obama really likes the airplane and limo.

    • Ready… for Prison

      Not to mention the pen and the phone.

    • Jake Jackson

      Bush Jr. said recently that the only thing he misses about being president is the plane. That man was a floor-crawling drunk.

      • Rich Shepard

        In the absence of dealing with a failed leader–Obama–some people have to suck on their thumb and say, “Bush is a bad man”. Let’s face reality, he isn’t and never will be POTUS again. Your hero is in charge and you don’t seem to have an answer for his failures except to say, “Bush bad”. Clearly, you didn’t get that Bush was attempting comedy or didn’t want to…

      • Berzelius Windrip

        Thanks for that.

    • Enzyte Bob

      He’s had some good times in limos according to Larry Sinclair.

  • keithpridgeon

    Been telling people all week, Putin is not a politician and Russians are not Americans. Russia will never give up Ukraine without a fight and they will back Putin because they are as nationalistic as a brown shirt in 1938.

    • Ready… for Prison

      Well, of course. Good luck telling that to the multitudes who simply will not give up on the sad fable which holds that Barry Blunder is The Most Brilliant Leader Who Ever Bestrode The Planet. Like the National Socialists who went before them, it’s going to take a world-historical catastrophe before Obammunists will finally, grudgingly acknowledge, “We had absolutely no idea…”

  • Black_Saint

    Americans that voted for Obama should apologize to the World for forcing such incompetent, dimwit upon the world.

    • bilejones

      Yup. If they’d voted for the Mormon the US could be in a war with Russia and Iran as well as the other half dozen countries.

      • Black_Saint

        So you think weakness prevent wars? If Putin and other world leader had any respect for Obama he would be worried about the consequent of the invasion. Weakness causes wars. Obama if a failure at home and abroad in every way!

  • keithpridgeon

    In the 70′s and 80′s we began to rely less on MAD and more on interdependent economies t stave of war amongst major powers. Putin has decided to put that paper pyramid in perspective. Sometimes you can get out of debt by shooting the loan shark.

  • The Greatest freedom

    The Key player here is China, support for Putin, and US and the ” go and duck yrself” EU , will have to accept facts: Gayliberism has no future..

  • DougPage

    It all looks very similar to Austria and March 1938.

    • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

      Someone suggested the book “Ominious Parallels”. I haven’t read but will as soon as it arrives.

  • Attila_the_hun

    The reality is that The American collectivist left always lived in a fantasy land. It frown and dismisses the human desire of self preservation, ambition, greed and just plain survival. When a man like Putin comes along who will not play nice. They wonder why?

  • Truth Gun

    “a crisis that no one anticipated”

    Wrong. Some called it indeed.

  • Dan_Simon

    If it were simply a matter of naïvete and ignorance, then presumably after the umpteenth counterexample, the foreign policy establishment would adjust its collective thinking to take into account successive demonstrations of ruthlessness by foreign despots. But this doesn’t happen, because the real reason for the foreign policy establishment’s misattribution of benign motives to America’s enemies is far simpler: they perceive this approach to be in their own interest, regardless of its absurd unrealism.
    Dealing with the world as it truly is would have many costs: money siphoned off towards military spending that could be spent on bureaucracy and favored domestic priorities; greater prestige and legitimacy for military and strategic experts than for “soft” IR- and social science-based policy analysts; reduced appreciation for diplomatic initiatives and international organizations that provide cushy sinecures and resume-padding assignments. Faced with these unattractive consequences of reality, foreign policy establishmentarians opt instead for wishful thinking, justifying advocacy for their own interests and preferences by confidently declaring that the world is as they wish it to be.
    Of course, the illusion cannot be sustained indefinitely. But it’s such an attractive one for the average liberal foreign policy wonk that one can hardly blame them for trying…

  • Truth Gun

    Putin is smarter than Barry.

    Putin knows what Barry is really about. He knows what Barry really wants and it has nothing to do with Russia.

    Cicero said it best…..

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

    • Black_Saint

      A monkey is smarter then Barry!

      • Black_Saint

        The danger to America is not Barrack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with no accomplishment or qualification to give any hint that he would or could execute the duties of the world,s most important job..

        It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of this President than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved uneducated electorate looking for handouts thus willing to elect such unqualified men for their president.

        The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

        The Republic can survive a Barrack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president.

        ” Author unknown.

  • Black_Saint

    Russia was Ronald Reagan Evil empire …To Obama and the liberal the USA is their Evil empire!

  • wolverineconservative

    I can imagine that Putin has an Obama bobblehead in his office. “Barry, should I invade Ukraine?”. He then taps the bobblehead.

    “Do you approve of me taking back Belarus, and the Baltic states?” Taps the barry bobblehead.

    This is foreign policy in the Obama age.

  • Reaganite

    The world is a more Dangerous place today. This not good.

  • ronadolph

    Well, if nobody “saw this thing coming” then the people in Washington are more stupid than I have long thought. He did it in the former Soviet satellite of Georgia allegedly to protect ethnic Russians and he’s doing the same thing again. And he won’t stop with Ukraine. Next time it will be the Baltic states and after that Poland. It is Putin’s intent to re-unite the former “evil empire” and the Russian people are completely behind him. While Obumbles has been dismantling the U.S. Military (for his peace dividend) the Russians and the Chinese are building up theirs. China intends to expand it’s sphere of influence in the South China Sea and Russia will continue to reconstitute their former empire. In the mean time Iran edges ever closer to a deployable nuclear weapon and North Korea already has several and we; we will have the smallest Army since before World War II. We have an incredibly stupid lot of both Republican and Democrat law makers led by the wimpiest President in our history and an electorate that really deserves what they are getting.

    • bilejones

      You do realize that all 16 US intelligence agencies have stated for the past 6 years that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, don’t you?

      • ronadolph

        And you realize, of course, that these are the same 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies that told everybody that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, right??? Besides American Intelligence agencies will say anything the President tells them to say, as is evidenced by Morrell concocting that BS story about some obscure video causing the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

  • I BarKahn

    What will happen to Walter Russell Mead & Staff when Obama is definitively exposed as an undocumented alien, posing as an American by criminal means?–which Mead & Staff have known since 2007, but have been afraid to reveal.

  • SocraticGadfly

    And Mead is NOT part of teh legacy media, with all his years in it? Bullshit.

    • Ready… for Prison

      And Uuuhhhbama, The One and Only Moron Who Would Be God In The Flesh Himself, is not part of the problem? Horseshit.

  • disqus_mfERPWUv3H

    Brilliantly written. Thank you for putting into eloquent words that many of us think and are extremely frustrated about. Again, thank you.

  • capn obvious

    it would be embarassing enough if this was just one huge mistake by obama, it’s worse because it’s another link in a long chain that keeps getting longer….

  • Bali Bali Zingo

    This article premise and reasons for the War in Ukraine are not even close to the true reasons is tearing apart.

  • Jake Jackson

    Substitute Obama for Bush, and Ukraine for Georgia, and Mead would be falling all over himself to lick some presidential loafers.

    • Rich Shepard

      In other words, you refuse to deal with the fact that Obama blew it? Can’t deal with the truth huh, so I guess it’s time to kick GWB around. I guess it’s easier to put your head in the sand?

    • Larry Hollingsworth

      The left insisted that Bush was too dumb to get out of a shower of rain but Obama was brilliant and could solve all problems. I assume this is this your admission that Obama is nowhere as smart as he thinks he is since you are now saying he isn’t any worse than Bush.

  • sukietawdry

    As is your wont, Prof. Mead, you are far too charitable to those who “rise through the competitive bureaucracies of American academic, media and think tank life” and ascribe to them intellectual and ethical qualities they simply don’t possess. Obama will take nothing of value from this. As he has demonstrated again and again, he has no learning curve. He is perpetually at a fixed point where he’s always right. It’s not he who needs to adjust his thinking, but those of us who question his competence and his motives.

  • Contemplationist

    The American foreign policy establishment is in the habit of organizing constant ideological agitation thru its NGO proxies especially thru the State Department and the CIA. The American public is kept ignorant of this low-grade culture and media warfare until it boils over into ‘revolutions’ which force the hated opposition to intervene and be the bad guy, which can then be defeated by the ‘enlightened’ and ‘democratic’ US foreign policy establishment.
    It’s one hell of a dirty and dangerous game. It’s also thoroughly corrupt and shameless. That WRM is giving into this view of other international actors as ‘enemies’ who ‘seek to harm Obama’ is absolutely shameful especially with regards to Russia in the Ukraine situation. Does he think we are so stupid that we have already forgotten how State Department cronies like Nuland were engineering the flare-up? Will he deny the State Department funded gamut of NGOs for ‘democracy’ and ‘peace’ and ‘gay rights’ that just seem to be in the area at all times whether in Egypt or Ukraine?
    No, this sham is over. It will not go on any longer. Putin may or may not be an enemy of the US, but the foreign policy establishment is certainly a reckless, brainless enemy of the American people.

  • 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.

    • banderlogtorpedo

      Well said. How does a government that is clearly anti-actual succeed? The central tenant of Obamaism, the “guiding” spirit of the Democrat Party, is complete dependence on lies to move their program forward, and God Damn the consequences for everybody, just so the elites of the Party are taken care of.

  • Brian Allan Cobb

    What would the president’s critics have him DO with these powers of clairvoyance they wish he had?

    Stand tall?

    Russia has legitimate interests in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

    We don’t.

    • Larry Hollingsworth

      The first thing would be to quit making a bigger fool of himself by his continued posturing thinking he will scare Putin. He won’t. Trying to bully Putin to back down publically will have the opposite effect. Working behind the scense for diplomatic and financial pressure “might” work.

      • Brian Allan Cobb

        I am in complete agreement with you, and I cringe when the president talks about unspecified “consequences” and our supposedly top diplomat (Kerry) calls Russia’s actions “an invasion”.
        The talk of the president being caught “flat-footed” bugs me, as nothing was going to forestall Putin once his guy in Kiev was run out of town and the Olympics were over, regardless of whether the president was on his toes or no.

      • bilejones

        Might work to do what?
        The US has no legitimate interest in Ukraine.

  • Jack Kalpakian

    Actually, the problem was insufficient realism. The end of the Cold War should have been marked with the creation of a neutral buffer around Russia so that neither side feels threatened by the other. The same group that Mead criticizes here were advocates of enlargement of NATO and of the EU to countries not ready for either, prompting a Russian backlash. There was also a lot of dishonesty about the role of Svoboda and Right Sector in the “revolution” and this ultimately convinced Moscow that the change in Ukraine was Western orchestrated.

    • bilejones

      The deal was that the USSR would allow the peaceful absorbance of the DDR into West Germany in return for NATO not expanding eastward.

      As always, the neocon political filth in DC lied.

      • Jack Kalpakian

        Thank you for reminding everyone of this failure on the US to observe the basic principle of pacta sunt servanda.

  • Rich Shepard

    This isn’t about the Ukraine and the Crimea folks. It is but it isn’t.

    It is about China and North Korea and Tawain, Japan, South Korea and other parts of the pacific. It is about Poland, Israel, and the Eastern European block.

    Just like making a pronouncement about a “red line” in Syria was never just about Syria–to have never said anything and let the civil war go on would have been better for our image.

    Letting Iraq descend into chaos wasn’t just about Iraq.

    —–

    The world is a dangerous world. The bad actors are looking for openings. They are looking for signs of whether there will be others in the world to counteract their actions. Like it or not, the U.S. is still considered the primary world power. When a message is sent that we don’t back up our promises, back up our allies, that our words mean little, that we are interested in being loved vs. respected, then we encourage the bad actors .

    There should be no question of what should happen now, but given the idiot we have as POTUS, none of this will happen:

    • Samuel Adams

      One of the interesting angles here, that have not seen discussed in the slightest, are the agricultural deals between China and Ukraine. Both contracts for foodstock delivery (some in litigation and default) as well as Chinese lockups on Ukrainian farmland. Vlad is gathering chips for his negotiations on Russia’s south east flank. We play checkers, he plays chess.

      • Rich Shepard

        Interesting point. I wasn’t aware. This whole mess has the ugly feel of Jimmy Carter all over again.

        * Lecture and nag those whom he presides over.
        * Gladly points out our ‘flaws’ rather than the things that made this country great. Even will point them out to foreign leaders–Obama has outdone Carter here.
        * Assume the rest of the world operates with the intention of wanting what they–the preachy left–wants.
        * Assume if we just show our good intentions that our adversaries–we have no true enemies as are really misunderstood and fearful–will come around. What that usually means is us concessions without any in return.

        Folks like Putin are hard-core realists. Furthermore, they are manipulative and in some cases just say what those who would hope for different want to hear. GWB, while not giving the store to Putin, was a bit of an idealist with him, but even he woke up with Putin’s moves on Georgia. It’s ironic, you’d think a disingenuous person like Obama would see through Putin, but instead he feeds the crocodile hoping to tame it.

        The elite, especially the lefty D.C. snobs, didn’t want accept that an old cold-warrior was in charge of Russia. Even after Putin said the greatest tragedy was the breakup of the USSR. So, when Palin predicted a future crisis in the Ukraine, they sniffed at what an idiot she was. When Romney correctly called Russia–under Putin–our greatest adversary, the elites labeled him as an extremists. Now, the elites look like fools.

        You better believe that behind the scenes Putin and company were supporting Obama. They knew he is a fool and a tool.

    • bilejones

      “The world is a dangerous world. The bad actors are looking for openings.”

      And that would be the Obama’s, Kerry’s and Clinton’s of the world, before that, Bush the Lesser, Rumsfeld etc.

  • rene591

    hubris is the first thing USA needs to remember. we have no interest in who controls Crimea. not our problem. time to concentrate on our own problems. let them figure it out. way past time for Europeans to step up

  • IngeC

    @Russell Mead: Your assessment is the correct one but, you most likely hurt the plainly naked emperor’s feelings with your honesty. I hope that the IRS is not knocking on your door for an audit because, that what happens to everybody else disagreeing with this current crop of make-belief.

  • Mieau Gatto

    “Putin” the USSR back together, again. How’s that leading from Behind workin’ out for you, BHO. You pathetic, inexperienced, unqualified, little, tiny man playing President. You are an embarrassment and a joke, and everyone knows it, except Minority and Progressive Voters, looking for free handouts.

  • Buck Ofama

    Time for O’Blowme to go to Moscow and perform his persuasive act: “Bow, Apologize, Suck”. This wins ‘em over every time! What a LEADER!

  • Black_Saint

    Obama is a pathetic self loving little Brat that is not qualified to be a bathroom attendant. The sooner this missed abortion chance is gone the better for this Nation and the World!

  • Gregson14

    The Progressive mentality will always assume that the World Leaders of competing Nations will play by Marquis de Queensbury Rules, but reality shows us that a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin, and an ascendent China will take advantage of the Geo-Political naivety of Progressives like Obama, John Kerry and Susan Rice at every opportunity.

    We have been witnessing that dynamic in the Ukraine over the past two weeks!

    America is trading away the gravitas it earned in the 20th Century for the shallow and populous panderings of strategic Lightweights in their quest for a utopian Potemkin Village.

  • Gordon Waite

    Many people saw this coming! I did, as did Tom Clancy in his last book. You know the one before he mysteriously died! Lots of us saw Putin for the Stalinist that he is. We are the same Americans that saw Obama as the communist that he is, back in 2008! We are the Americans that read, listen, and watch the world, via all media sources. Unlike the left, that only watch MSNBC and have their heads stuck in the sand, refusing to see what Obama and his Chicago gangsters are doing to our Republic. Don’t even get me started on the brain dead, I mean brainwashed youth, who are too involved in their video games to do anything but parrot what their teachers and professors tell them. The only thing smart about today’s youth, is their phones.

  • roastytoasty

    Gimme some guys that know how to play dirty.

    • Samuel Adams

      Both were masters. We’ve lost perspective on it today, but few understand how important it was to peel China completely out of the Soviet sphere. And yes, Vietnam got traded off for that–but Kissinger counted on the traditional enmity between the Chinese and Vietnamese as a counterweight. Add in the original arms limitation treaties and preventing the 73 war from morphing into nuclear conflict and you saw schoolbook realpolitik in action. But hey, Henry saw real evil up close and personal in his service during and after WWII in Germany. Just think about Kerry vs. Kissinger. Then cry.

  • Samuel Adams

    That is why I miss the hard nosed realpolitik types whose world view was shaped by and in WWII and the immediate aftermath. They understood the mindset and were not squeamish about the realities of dealing with totalitarianism. In all seriousness, it really is time that the adults got in a room and crafted a new equivalent of NSC-68 to deal with the now emerged multilateral and non-state actor world we live in. And not something based on the pablum and mush that passes for strategy in the Obama administration–or the “lets make good little Americans out of the Afghans” from Bush–but one that recognizes our national interest and the interests of the free world.

  • booboo

    President Kitten is flexing his muscle and Putin is laughing. National stage is a little harder than community agitating.

  • submandave

    “a crisis that no one (except Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney) anticipated.”

    FIFY

    • bilejones

      Why is this “a crisis”?

      It has no impact on the people of America.

  • bilejones

    The issue is, of course, why any of this is any any concern to Americans, 5,000 miles away.

    Oh, right, the whole world is bankrupt America’s concern.

    Can’t scratch up $100M to do food inspections but can always find a few billion to murder foreigners.

  • http://balloune.tk/ Claude Balloune

    Yup! It’s too bad GWB or Sarah Palin aren’t in power!
    They would show this evil commie Poutine some whatnot! You Betcha!