Skip to comments.Beware the Russian Bear: The wily predator has fooled the U.S. over and over and over
Posted on 03/03/2014 6:52:12 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Barack Obama is the second U.S. president in a row to badly misjudge Vladimir Putin. In 2001, after his first meeting with Putin, George W. Bush famously told Colin Powell, his secretary of state, that he thought the Russian leader was religious. Powell, I looked into Putins eyes and I saw his soul. To which Powell replied: Mr. President, I looked into President Putins eyes and I saw the KGB.
Barack Obama hasnt made that mistake. But in the wake of Russias invasion of the Ukranian region of Crimea, its worth remembering that in 2008, Obama ridiculed John McCain for warning about Russia after its invasion of independent Georgia. In 2012, he mocked Romney for identifying Russia as our top geopolitical foe, sneering, The Cold War has been over for 20 years.
But Vladimir Putin has long acted as if he cant wait to bring the icicles of the Cold War back. At their joint public meetings, Putin has dismissively looked away from Obama, treating him as someone he could dupe or roll over at will. Critics say that attitude was on display in Putins handling of Edward Snowden and in his moves regarding Syria. In both cases, he embarrassed the United States.
Senator John McCain says it is now obvious that not only Obama but also Hillary Clinton got Russia wildly wrong. Of Clinton, he says, She believed there would somehow be a reset with a guy who was a KGB colonel who always had ambitions to restore the Russian empire, McCain told the Daily Beast. McCain noted that as late as last Thursday, Secretary of State Kerry and other U.S. officials accepted assurances from Russias foreign minister that Russia had no intention of violating Ukraines sovereignty. The occupation of Crimea began the following day.
Unless the West shows egregious weakness in the face of the Russian aggression, Putin is unlikely to grab more of Ukraine. With Crimea under his control, he can build a new pipeline to Western Europe, which gets one-third of its natural gas from Russia. With this pipeline in place, which will be routed around Ukraine, Putin will hold Ukraine in a stranglehold: He can credibly threaten to turn off the current pipeline, which runs through and also supplies Ukraine, without endangering sales to Western Europe. Hes done this before. In both 2006 and 2009, Russias state-controlled Gazprom corporation shut off deliveries to Ukraine, supposedly over pricing disputes.
Many analysts believe that Putin took the measure of Obama in 2009. The Russians bitterly criticized an agreement the Bush administration had signed with Poland and the Czech Republic to install missile interceptors and a radar tracking system; these were intended to protect Europe from Iran and to give Eastern Europeans confidence that the U.S. was determined to contain the Russian Bear. Obama abruptly canceled the agreement, giving the host countries scant advance warning. They bit their tongues in public, but many Poles and Czechs felt betrayed. Mirek Topolánek, who was Czech prime minister at the time his country signed the agreement with the Bush administration, bluntly told reporters that the U.S. withdrawal is not good news for the Czech state, for Czech freedom and independence.
So what must the U.S. and the West do now to deter further Russian aggression in Ukraine? Clearly they have an obligation to take some action. In 1994, the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia guaranteed Ukraines territorial inviolability in exchange for the new states agreement to destroy the nuclear weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union after its breakup.
Russian propaganda about depraved Europe conceals an intimate relationship. Tourism in the European Union is a safety valve for a large Russian middle class that takes its cues in fashion and pretty much everything else from European culture. Much of the Russian elite has sent its children to private schools in the European Union or Switzerland. Beyond that, since no Russian of any serious means trusts the Russian financial system, wealthy Russians park their wealth in European banks. In other words, the Russian social order depends upon the Europe that Russian propaganda mocks. And beneath hypocrisy, as usual, lies vulnerability.
The U.S. should immediately move to expand its existing Magnitsky Act, which prohibits Russians engaged in illegal activity from entering the U.S. If it were extended to the regulation of bank accounts and property ownership in the U.S., wed hear howls of outrage from many Russian officials and oligarchs. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), for one, supports this kind of restriction: Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.
Kerry will travel to Kiev on Tuesday for a firsthand look at the crisis. On Sunday, as the New York Times reported, he warned that if Russia doesnt curb its territorial appetites, Putin is not going to have a Sochi G-8, a reference to the meeting of the top world economies that Putin is slated to host in June this year. He may not even remain in the G-8 if this continues, Kerry continued. After all, Russias weak and underdeveloped economy was admitted to the G-8 only in 1998 as a gesture of friendship after Russias devastating currency collapse.
Its time to put signs of friendship on hold, and if Russian troops advance deeper into Ukraine, it might also be time to reassess Russias membership in the World Trade Organization.
The old adage says, Fool me once, shame on you fool me twice, shame on me. The earlier version of the saying, attributed to the most famous clown of the Elizabethan era, Richard Tarlton, offers further wisdom:
For who deceives me once, God forgive him; if twice, God forgive him; but if thrice, God forgive him, but not me, because I could not beware.
The U.S. is now on its third Putin-inspired pratfall, and the routine is getting stale. The lesson is now clear: Beware the Russian Bear. As Indiana governor Mike Pence, a former member of the House leadership, told me this weekend: History shows the Russian Bears ambitions never die, they just go into hibernation.
John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for National Review Online.
A little historical perspective, copied from another thread.
Are you aware that Crimea was part of Russia for over 200 years, until Nikita Khrushchev literally gifted it to Ukraine in 1954 in order to gain the support of their party bosses during his accession after the death of Stalin?
Before Russia, it belonged to the Ottoman Empire, now defunct. Before that, it belonged to the city-state of Venice, going back to before Columbus discovered America. But it was NEVER part of Ukraine, until Khrushchevs gift.
Imagine if President Eisenhower, as a dictator on his own, gave Long Island and NYC to Connecticut as part of a in internal United States political deal to secure CTs support.
In 1954, the political gift was an internal USSR matter, not an international matter. In 1991, the USSR broke apart, and Khrushchevs gift suddenly mattered. But despite the gift and the fluke that led Crimea to become part of the modern sovereign nation of Ukraine, Crimea has always been 90% ethnic Russian, and it contains Russias most vital naval bases and sea ports.
In fact, Crimea is far more Russian than Hawaii is American. Its foolish and naïve to believe that the Russians will risk losing the Crimea during a period of chaos in Ukraine.
Only those planning to be fooled are actually fooled.
But as far as the headline is concerned, zero is complicit, not being fooled ... PLAYED, maybe ... but not fooled.
The bear has always fooled libs...not much effort required there given their almost unbroken record of weak-d*ck-ness, poor knowledge of history, and general stupidity.
However, with the Obamadork and the clueless marshmallow State(less) Dept running things, Putin doesn’t even have to put effort in it. Just do anything and the libs will screw things up. It’s what they do.
You have to give it to our military professionalism...because no one there with above room IQ has any regard for the dork. Saluting him must make them want to hurl. And I can imagine that the middle finger in each salute of that piece of excrement contains a middle finger that is just slightly more extended.
They haven’t fooled the US over and over. Just the idiots in charge.
Putin will reincorporate Crimea into Russia the way China seized Tibet. The West will not be able to prevent it. In fact the pouting of Kerry and Obama underscores that the West is becoming less influential and relevant to world affairs. Economic alliances and centers of power are shifting. Eventually Germany will tire of subsidizing its non productive, debt ridden Western and Southern European partners. Between 1870 and 1914 the German Russian economic sphere was one of the world’s most dynamic. The tragic events of the 20th century of course ended it. However Germany will soon focus on the boundless potential and resources of Russia. Ironically Ukraine is on the axis and will participate in the Central European economic renaissance. The Central Europeans will be the economic and military balance to the evolving Asiatic power blocs. The primacy of the West is diminishing.
It never fooled Reagan.
obama is a Russian plant
Back in '94 we were still enjoying the residual prestige earned by a preceding generation of leaders.
Thats entirely gone now, having been spent on EBT cards & Obama phones.
So forget it, John. It'll be years before we can become the world's policeman again. Pretending we still are invites disaster.
“...it might also be time to reassess Russias membership in the World Trade Organization.”
Neocon gibberish on display.
Beware neocons cheerleading for endless war.
Reagan was a great president, at a very different point in our history. I am much more worried about threats right here at home, than I am from Russia. I really am astonished at the stupidity of people who think we “must” be enemies of Russia. The right (or what passes for the right in this country) really is the Stupid Party.
RE: Deregulating American oil and gas production would bring both the Middle East and Russia to heel.
Exploring ALL of our energy resources would also help.
But this President is making sure that this does not happen...