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Obama Speaks. Putin Smiles.
Streetwise Professor ^ | March 27, 2014 | The Professor

Posted on 03/28/2014 8:59:54 AM PDT by No One Special

Obama has given two major sets of remarks about Ukraine, one set on teleprompter, the other off. Like Tolstoy’s unhappy families, each was appalling in its own way. It is hard to say which is worse.

The off-teleprompter remarks were delivered at a press conference. The statement that garnered the most attention, and rightly so, was Obama’s assertion that Russia was a mere regional power that is not a threat to the US, and invaded Crimea out of weakness.

Where to begin?

Part of the problem is the man’s preternatural pettiness. He denigrated Russia in part because he will not, cannot, concede that Romney might have been closer to the truth than he was when the Republican candidate named Russia as our number one national security threat, and Obama responded with a snarky “the 80s called and want their foreign policy back.” A bigger man would have given Romney his due. But that would be a different man than Obama.

But the bigger problem is the substance. First, I would be the first to acknowledge that Russia’s military is decrepit and its ability to project power beyond the Eurasian landmass is limited. But the Eurasian landmass is pretty damned big, and Russia’s region includes many areas of vital interest to the United States.

Second, Russia has many other sources of power that transcend those of a mere regional power (like Brazil, say). Most obviously: It has nukes. It has a UNSC veto. It has extremely effective asymmetric capabilities, notably cyberwarfare (conducted in large part through private and criminal elements that work for Russian intelligence out of a combination of patriotic and mercenary motives) and intelligence. (Snowden, anyone?)

Moreover, Putin’s anschluss, and the threatened moves beyond Crimea (not just Ukraine, but reasonably feared in any country with substantial Russian speaking minorities, which includes countries formally allied with the US) upset the entire international order. Not just the post-World War II and post-Cold War settlements, but the principles of international order stretching back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Turning a blind eye to revanchism and irredentism threatens to unleash similar forces on every continent. The chaos and disorder that would result would present a profound challenge to stability, and the interests of the United States.

Obama appears to believe that it is beneath a stronger power to confront weaker ones. But what is the point of strength and power, if they cannot be deployed against peer adversaries because that would be too costly, and they cannot be deployed against weaker ones because that’s unsporting?

Indeed, if Obama’s diagnosis is correct, and Russia is a weak power (put aside whether the weakness is the motivation for Putin’s aggressiveness, as Obama claims), given the stakes there is a compelling case to deploy American power (mainly economic, financial, and political, rather than military) to squash the weak upstart. Because that would contribute to tranquility throughout Eurasia, and pour encourager les autres.

The formal speech in Belgium was a disaster in different ways. Obama gave a treacly tribute to the bravery of Maidan, and then basically said: “sorry, people, you’re on your own! Good luck! We wish you the best!” He laid out a rather compelling case that Putin’s challenge to the international system threatened dire consequences far beyond Ukraine, but despite this he threatened no measures beyond the oft-repeated gradualism of escalating financial consequences: how many historical examples are required to demonstrate that such gradualism, so appealing in the faculty lounge and think tank, is actually an encouragement to hard men like Putin?

Disgustingly, Obama conceded many of Putin’s arguments, most notably that Russia has special rights in Ukraine due to the longstanding historical relationship between the countries. This is to make modern Ukrainians subordinate to Russia because their forebears provided a patina of civilization to Muscovite thugs, and then suffered centuries of subjugation at the hands of these thugs which at times lapsed into genocide. Yes, the Holodomor was truly the epitome of a special relationship, no?

If anything, the historical relations between Ukraine and Russia provide a compelling case to defend Ukraine against further Muscovite predations, rather than an excuse to consign the country to Putin’s tender mercies.

The speech put more emphasis on what the US won’t do, than what it will. Obama repeated three times that the US will not engage in any military response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. I’m sure Putin got that message, and smiled.

Obama emphasized a desire for continued diplomacy, and de-escalation. Both of which Russia has already rejected, repeatedly. (Look at the picture of Lavrov meeting with the Ukrainian FM. I am sure The Tarantula would have preferred an appendectomy without anesthesia to that meeting.) This is political onanism of the most embarrassing sort.

But there’s more! Not only did Obama conspicuously put Ukraine outside the American security perimeter, he also slammed the door on Georgia, saying that it was not on a path to membership in Nato. Given that Georgia is one of Putin’s biggest bêtes noire, you may rest assured that Putin is going to take this as an invitation.

In sum, the speech signaled a supine attitude that will embolden Putin. Obama appears robust only in comparison to the Europeans, who would have to stiffen considerably in order to become mere boneless wonders (to quote Churchill’s devastating critique of Stanley Baldwin).

Some have claimed that Obama’s speech was tough, both on the Russians and the Europeans. The markets deemed otherwise. Gazprom was up. Sberbank was up. Rosneft was up. Micex was up. The Ruble was up.

And no wonder. Last week’s encouraging expansion of sanctions have been followed by . . . nothing. Except empty threats to do more: that’s all Obama’s speech contained. It is clear that there is no appetite in western capitals for aggressive action against Russia, even though it would be possible to crush the Russian economy.

Need convincing? German firms are making pilgrimages to Moscow. German politicians are loud in their criticism of sanctions, and bend over backwards to rationalize Putin’s conduct.

Just why did we defend these people for 60 plus years, anyways? They are obsessed with Snowden and the thought that the NSA might be perusing their Amazon purchases. Never mind that a thugocracy is on the march. It’s so much easier for the Germans to criticize the US than Russia. The US doesn’t fight back.

Speaking of NSA, one of the companies that paid homage to Putin in his court was Siemens, a notoriously corrupt firm. Former CIA director James Woolsey said we spy on European companies precisely because of their corruption. Perhaps some kompromat or prosecutions are in order.

Obama appears to be deferring to German wishes. Specifically, I smell Merkel’s influence over the Georgia remarks. Why did Obama have to mention Georgia at all, let alone to throw it very publicly under the bus? Then recall that Merkel has been adamant over excluding Georgia from integration into Nato on any time frame.

Russian troops are massing on Ukraine’s borders. Russia’s most capable formations, its paratroops (VDV) and Guards armored/mechanized units are assembled there. But don’t worry! Russian defense minister Shoygu assures that these troops are only there for maneuvers. And the drunk who is our SecDef believes him:

At the Pentagon, there remains confidence in the assurances provided to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu that the Russian troops amassing on the border with Ukraine were there only for exercises.

“[Shoygu] told me that they had no intention of crossing the border into Ukraine,” Hagel said at the Pentagon this week.

Can we really be this stupid? (Don’t answer that. The question was totally, totally rhetorical.)

Just why, pray tell, need the Russians conduct maneuvers with 50K of their best troops on a sensitive border? And given that Putin repeatedly lied about his intentions in Crimea, why should we believe Shoygu-especially since there are serious doubts that Shoygu is in Putin’s decision making clique?

In sum, in his various remarks, Obama has revealed that he has many, many cheeks, and is willing to turn them all. To Putin, anyways: not to Romney or other Republicans. Putin will take this as an invitation, and take all that he can. If he isn’t stopped now-and rolled back, actually-he will continue to press. The necessity of confrontation will not be eliminated, just deferred.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: momjeans; russia; thecatcher; ukraine
Smart diplomacy?
1 posted on 03/28/2014 8:59:54 AM PDT by No One Special
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To: No One Special
On a few occasions Putin has been seen rolling on the floor gasping for air, shouting "больше нет, больше нет."
2 posted on 03/28/2014 9:18:21 AM PDT by pallis
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To: No One Special

Are we witnessing the run up to the next world war? Hitler was emboldened repeatedly by the soft response and inaction of the strongest world leaders. Germany profited from it’s conquests and fed it’s war machine.

Hitler’s diabolical ideals were thwarted by his own arrogance and impatience. Had he not invaded Russia, Russia would likely have not intervened in WWII. The Allied forces would have had a much tougher time with Germany had Germany not spread its forces so thin on two fronts.

The point is, Putin is surely emboldened by the world’s non-response. Will he strike while the iron’s hot or patiently take over other nations a little at a time? Alliances are already starting to break down and form up as the world anticipates a shift in global power. Everyone wants to team up with the winner (should it come to that).

If history is starting to repeat itself, Russia and China are likely eventual allies. Look for China to take Taiwan without firing a shot. Look for Japan to re-double their military build up and China to feel threatened by that. Eventually China will have to either gain control over North Korea or take them over (which will certainly establish them as a world military power and scare the neighbors).

If this scenario plays out over the next 5 to 7 years, Obama will go down as the Chamberlin of our time.

3 posted on 03/28/2014 9:20:15 AM PDT by Tenacious 1 (My whimsical litany of satyric prose and avarice pontification of wisdom demonstrates my concinnity.)
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To: No One Special
Just substitute some names and locales and you've got the days before WWI all over again.

Really amazing how Obama is so tough on Americans and RINO's but bends over and takes it from foreign strongmen.

4 posted on 03/28/2014 9:26:57 AM PDT by atc23 (The Confederacy was the single greatest conservative resistance to federal authority ever)
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To: Tenacious 1
Are we witnessing the run up to the next world war?

Think about it. It's ONLY when your adversaries BELIEVE you may be at your weakest and they could possible kick your a$$ that they usually attack in some fashion.

Don't be surprised in another few months if this hasn't escalated to dangerous levels bordering on the involvement of world war.

ONLY Obumbler could create such a situation.

5 posted on 03/28/2014 9:27:12 AM PDT by VideoDoctor
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To: VideoDoctor

Unfortunately Obama hasn’t a clue what he’s doing..nor could he in this situation....we do know all countries act ‘without’ regard to international law when it thinks it in its interest to do so... and both Russia and EU/US have broken International Laws concerning Ukraine.

Still for any to expect Putin to overlook or ignore events in his own back yard is naive.....we wouldn’t either....well at least other Presidents before Obama....

6 posted on 03/28/2014 9:53:23 AM PDT by caww
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To: VideoDoctor

Unfortunately Obama hasn’t a clue what he’s doing..nor could he in this situation....we do know all countries act ‘without’ regard to international law when it thinks it in its interest to do so... and both Russia and EU/US have broken International Laws concerning Ukraine.

Still for any to expect Putin to overlook or ignore events in his own back yard is naive.....we wouldn’t either....well at least other Presidents before Obama....

7 posted on 03/28/2014 9:53:24 AM PDT by caww
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To: No One Special
Obama’s assertion that Russia was a mere regional power was idiotic....How many International Summits have been held and hosted by Russia?...Putin has how many Nuclear weapons at his disposal? He's aligned with Russia, and the Middle Eastern Countries and also trades heavily with Japan and other stupid is Obama? Very.... Sadly we have many in our nation who will believe whatever Obama says....because they have no interest other than whatever our Government tells them to believe.

HEck Obama said the US never went into Kosovo until after their referendum...they never had one!.. so whoever is making his speeches isn't telling it right to begin with....

8 posted on 03/28/2014 10:06:09 AM PDT by caww
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To: No One Special

Great analysis.

9 posted on 03/28/2014 10:15:17 AM PDT by aquila48
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To: No One Special
I hope to God that we get rid of this fool before he gets us all killed.

House and Senate; are you listening? He is, at least, going to kill a whole generation of our young men.

His ineptitude, like Chamberlain's, will cause this new iteration of Hitler to go unchecked until it is too late. He, like other cowards in history, will get backed into a corner and see war as his only out. After gutting the military, he will have to conscript young, poorly trained troops and commit them to be slaughtered.

The next war will be more horrible than all our former wars. It has the potential to be truly world-wide. Perhaps at YOUR front door.

We all like to think we are heroes, and some are, but the majority will cave at the first threat.I, honestly don't know how I would react if my wife and family were directly threatened. I hope to God I never have to find out.

It is time to take a real run at impeachment or really investigate this babbling fool's past. If he is truly illegally in OUR White House, he needs to be frog-marched out. I believe we can survive an idiot like"Stand up Chuck" Biden for the short time he would be in office.


10 posted on 03/28/2014 10:16:05 AM PDT by snowtigger
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To: Tenacious 1

“Obama will go down as the Chamberlin of our time.”

Only if we end up winning.

11 posted on 03/28/2014 10:22:24 AM PDT by conejo99
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To: No One Special

Barry On The Stage: A Ballad of the Former Superstar Sung in the Year 2014
(originally “Casey At The Bat”)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the new G-8 that day;
The score stood one to zero, and Putin still had cards to play.
And when Kerry failed with Lavrov, and Merkel came up lame,
A sickly silence fell when Romney said Obama was to blame.

A straggling few got up and left in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the breast;
They thought “Just wait ‘til Barry gets his chance to speak,”
They’d put up even money he’d be the hero of the week.

But Hollande preceded Biden, against Putin on the make,
And the former was limp-wristed and the latter was a flake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy grew
For there seemed but little chance of Barry getting his debut.

But Hollande collpsed so quickly, to the wonderment of all,
And Biden played the Joker and took another slapstick fall.
And when the dust had lifted they saw what had occurred,
There was Putin at the border making Barry look absurd

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the range,
For Barry, mighty Barry, was advancing to the stage.

There was ease in Barry’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Barry’s bearing and a smile on Barry’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he spritely took a bow,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt that Barry’d show them how.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as his Teleprompter spooled;
Five thousand tongues were cheering “Barry still looks really cool!”
Then while the waiting multitudes felt their heartbeats start to race
Defiance gleamed in Barry’s eye, a sneer crossed Barry’s face.

Then the mighty amplifiers hurtled Barry’s words out through the air,
And Barry stood a-watching in his haughty grandeur there.
But through the air and out the doors his empty words unheeded sped,
“That can’t be Barry speaking!”, his doting followers said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“What has happened to our savior?”, yelled the people on the strand.
And it’s likely they’d have walked away had not Barry raised his hand.

With his customary arrogance, great Barry’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the speech go on;
He signaled to the ‘prompter, and once more the canned words flew;
But the audience was stuunned again while Putin said, “You’re Through!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Barry and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Barry wouldn’t let Putin have his way again.

The sneer is still on Barry’s lip, his teeth are clenched in rage;
He pounds with child-like petulance, his fist upon the page.
And now the Teleprompter rolls and Barry’s words begin to flow,
But his words are fluff, the magic’s gone, the charlatan’s laid low.

Oh, somewhere out in Liberal-Land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in The Netherlands - mighty Barry has struck out.

12 posted on 03/28/2014 10:24:28 AM PDT by Iron Munro (The future ain't what it use to be -- Yogi Berra)
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To: pallis
"больше нет, больше нет."

"Oh my sides, oh my sides!"

13 posted on 03/28/2014 10:24:57 AM PDT by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: No One Special

Campaign Barry: “Don’t bring a knife to a gun-fight”.
White House BHO: “Bring a teleprompter and gradual financial sanctions to a tank battle”.

Two sources of Obama’s inaction:
1. Obama obviously read the conventional explanation of the constant, aggressive expansionism of the Russian Empire and its successor state, the USSR: lacking natural borders and invaded by Mongols, Napoleon, and Hitler, it’s driven by understandable insecurity. Being a genius and all, Obama thinks, “Putin is just only reacting to Russia’s post Cold War retraction. ‘Show some flexibility’ (give in) to anything Russia wants and Putin will feel so warm and fuzzy that he will stop. Worked great under FDR”. All these public pronouncements and leaks that Russia might invade Ukraine at any moment and we can’t do anything about it, are an invitation for Putin to proceed and for Ukrainians to act happy about it.
2. Obama does not want an excuse for rejuvenating a US military-industrial complex he desires to fade away. A Cool-War with Russia would provide just such an excuse, and also cause Europe to look to the US for leadership. He wants to weaken America and the West as much as possible, since he sees US military capability as a threat to the world, not a stabilizing force. Besides, military spending eats up welfare dollars, provides employment, stimulates American technical innovation, and uses fossil fuels. Not his thing.

14 posted on 03/28/2014 10:28:44 AM PDT by Chewbarkah
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To: snowtigger

I feel like we are in the back seat of a car—Obama is driving and he’s stoned and drunk—texting and listening to music as we are on a twisting mountain road—up ahead is the sign post-—Deadman’s curve!
Just to not give Mitt a Nod that he might have been right—he will risk war and a change in the ballance of power—He’s a fool—worse, an Arrogant fool. His speach has given Putin the green light to take East Ukraine and Georgia—and maybe parts of Estonia and Moldavia. He has even given China a nod to seize the Japanese Islands—maybe Okinawa! — Taiwan and those islands off Vietnam. One speech —was worse than FDR and Yalta!

15 posted on 03/28/2014 11:12:27 AM PDT by Forward the Light Brigade (Into the Jaws of H*ll)
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To: atc23
Just substitute some names and locales and you've got the days before WWI all over again.

So, I'm not the only one who sees that. Bambi has achieved one thing. He's managed to make Chamberlain look competent by comparison.

16 posted on 03/28/2014 11:34:19 AM PDT by Hoffer Rand (Bear His image. Bring His message. Be the Church.)
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To: No One Special

And now we know what “more flexibility” meant.

17 posted on 03/28/2014 12:07:08 PM PDT by Lil Flower (American by birth. Southern by the Grace of God! ROLL TIDE!!)
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To: Iron Munro


18 posted on 03/28/2014 5:40:29 PM PDT by No One Special
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