American Elephants

Russians Move into the Ukraine, but Deny Any Such Move. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama just spoke on the situation in the Ukraine. Deeply concerned. Destabilizing. Profound interference. Situation remains fluid. We will continue to communicate.

Do you suppose President Putin noticed that President Obama wants to cut our military down to pre-World War II levels? Of course. The world pays attention to these things. Wire reports say that Russia has seized the government buildings in the Crimea, and taken control of the airport. The Russian Defense Ministry says it is taking measures to guarantee the safety of the Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol in the Crimea. (It is helpful to look at Google maps if you are as fuzzy on geography as I am.)

The questions are — will Putin take the Crimea by force? And if so, will his ambitions be limited to simply securing the Black Sea Fleet’s bases or does he have greater ambitions?

What else, besides issuing statements of concern, is President Obama prepared to do? The new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, described it as a military invasion and occupation, and asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian forces denied any involvement.

Charles Krauthammer suggests that Putin’s mission is restoration. Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century. The 2008 war with Georgia returned two of its provinces to the bosom of Mother Russia, and last year pressured Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal with the European Union. Putin, Krauthammer says, wants Ukraine back.

The New York Times says that Obama wants stability. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to change the autocratic trajectory of the region. Krauthammer says:

Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must arise organically, from internal developments. “These democratic movements will be more sustainable if they are seen as . . . coming from within these societies,” says deputy national security adviser Benjamin Rhodes. Democracy must not be imposed by outside intervention but develop on its own.

But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.

Obama says he has assigned Vice President Biden to talk to the new Prime Minister of the Ukraine, whose name Obama couldn’t remember. Secretary of State Kerry said a vague something or other about Russian action being a mistake. That should be helpful.

This is a difficult situation. President Obama has staked his credibility on being the president who ended the dumb war in Iraq, got bin-Laden, and is getting us out of Afghanistan. He sees America as a world bully that needs be restrained, and Americans as “war-weary.”

Others see Obama as embarrassingly passive and demonstrating American weakness before an increasingly violent world. I am not surprised by Putin’s actions. He has told us that he regrets the demise of the Soviet Union — have people forgotten the Cold War?

1 Comment so far
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You seem real smart and stuff.


Comment by Bart

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