Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Foreign Policy, Military, National Security, Progressivism, Russia, The Constitution, The United States
The United States is sending ground troops to Poland, the Polish defense minister says after meeting with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. But not to worry, this is not a major escalation. Supposedly they are sending a company, about 150 soldiers, for exercises with the Polish military for a short stay, or something like that.
The Ukrainians asked for military aid, we denied them weapons, but sent MREs and military style socks, and reportedly helmets as well. They were trucked into Ukraine as it was thought a military cargo plane might be too provocative.
President Putin, on the other hand has something like 40,000 troops massed on the Ukrainian border, but says they are just there as a precaution since there is so much unrest in the Ukraine. The officers above the rank of Major in the Ukrainian military all came up through the Russian military, and they aren’t going to fight Russians.
The Russian President denies that the militants in the Ukraine have anything to do with Russia, and he is quite helpless to stop them. Although the pro-Russian activists seem to have had military training, their weapons and equipment are all Russian, and their use of tear gas and stun grenades is inconsistent with a spontaneous local militia. Last Thursday Mr. Putin referred to Ukraine as part of “New Russia.” Even when Mr. Putin openly declares his goal, Mr. Obama prefers to ignore it. The Wall Street Journal said:
The larger problem is that Mr. Obama can’t seem to admit that his assumptions about the world are being repudiated by the week. He came to office believing his own campaign rhetoric that the U.S. was unpopular mainly because of President George W. Bush. He would end these misunderstandings through diplomatic engagement, especially with our adversaries, who would respond in kind to our good will and moral example. Nowhere in the world has that happened.
Diplomacy in Geneva has come up with about what one would expect. After seven hours of negotiations they agreed that “all parties including separatists and their Russian backer, would stop violent and provocative acts, and all illegal groups would be disarmed. A joint statement made no presence of what the U.S. has said are 40,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders. Kerry said that Russia is “absolutely prepared to begin to respond with respect to troops,” provided the agreement is observed.
The U.S. has sent 12 F-16 fighters and 200 support personnel to Poland. NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance would fly more air patrols over the Baltic region and allied ships would deploy to the Baltic.
Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the United States, having announced a “pivot” to Asia, needs to “re–pivot” to Europe, and European countries that have cut back on defense spending need to reverse the trend.
The idea until recently was that there were no more threats in Europe and no need for a U.S. presence in Europe any more. Events show that what is needed is a re-pivot, and that Europe was safe and secure because America was in Europe.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Obama has concluded that he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin. As a result he will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, and otherwise turn to other foreign policy area where progress remains possible.
The White House is preparing to nominate John Fl Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine , Georgia and Lithuania. Administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia.
Obama is less concerned with irritating Russia now, and is reportedly pivoting to the George F. Kennan strategy of containment.
The more hawkish faction in the State and Defense Departments has grown increasingly frustrated, privately worrying that Mr. Obama has come across as weak and unintentionally sent the message that he has written off Crimea after Russia’s annexation. They have pressed for faster and more expansive sanctions, only to wait while memos sit in the White House without action. Mr. Obama has not even imposed sanctions on a list of Russian human rights violators waiting for approval since last winter.
Mr. Obama says that Ukraine is not a major concern for Americans. He has concentrated his public schedule around “important” issues like job training and the minimum wage. Since Mr. Putin is not interested in a partnership, Mr. Obama is not interested in the Ukraine or Russia. But then, he’s not much interested in foreign policy at all—though it’s the major part of his job description.
David P. Goldman, writing as “Spengler” says Americans are playing Monopoly, Russians are playing chess. Ukraine is a basket case with a per capita income a tenth of that of the European Community. They are deeply in debt to the Russians and dependent on Russian energy. Putin will let the West take charge of the Ukrainian disaster until it festers, and then pick and choose what he wants. And what he wants is a “new Russia.”
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Russia, The United States | Tags: Crisis in Ukraine, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Russian Militants
This was not Ukrainian government’s doing, but the source is unknown. The Ukrainian government is trying to find the source.
Pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Jews emerging from a synagogue there were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee — “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” according to Ynet News, Israels largest news website.
The leaflet was written in Russian and had Russia’s two-headed eagle on it, and distributed by masked men outside the Donetsk synagogue after Passover prayers. the region is home to about 17,000 Jews. It was signed by Denis Pushilin, as chairman of Donetsk’s temporary government. Pushilin has reportedly denied responsibility for them. The leaflets are not any official order, but they weren’t just scrawled on a sign either.
Ugly. The White House should respond in the harshest terms. The president said “there will be consequences,” and went on to claim another million for ObamaCare.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, National Security, Russia, The United States
The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is stirring the unrest in eastern Ukraine, but President Obama hasn’t yet decided if further sanctions are warranted. …[T]he juxtaposition is a perfect summary of the current state of U.S. foreign policy.
Vladimir Putin uses Russian special forces to cow a neighbor and steal territory , while Mr. Obama agonizes about what to do.
That was the Wall Street Journal. The White House dithers about what response they may choose. The U.S. has refused to send Ukraine military aid, but offered MRIs, and military type socks.
The Journal adds “We know Mr. Obama didn’t run for President to engage in great power politics, but it is still part of the job description. Is he still interested in doing his job?
In the Weekly Standard, Ruel Marc Gerecht asks:
Is Barack Obama’s threat of preventive military action against the Iranian regime’s nuclear program credible? Would a one-year, six-month, or even three-month nuclear breakout capacity at the known nuclear sites be acceptable to him? Is he prepared to attack if Tehran denies the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, entry into undeclared facilities that may be hiding nuclear-weapons research or centrifuge production? Is he prepared to strike if the regime denies inspectors access to the personnel and documents that would allow the West to see whether—how much—the regime has been lying about weaponization?
Again in the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol:
The Obama administration has scheduled a deputies committee meeting this week—tentatively set for Tuesday—to resolve a bitter inter-agency dispute over a request from Russia with respect to the Open Skies program. Informed sources believe the White House is likely to side with the State Department, which wants to accommodate Russia, over the objections of the Obama administration’s Defense Department and intelligence agencies.
The Open Skies treaty allows the United States and Russia to fly over each other’s territory with planes loaded with certain agreed-upon sensor packages, in order to ensure compliance with arms control agreements and to provide assurance against preparations for various military surprises. Russia has asked the U.S. to agree to an upgrade in the sensor package their planes can carry…The request would apparently result in a significant increase in Russian spying capabilities; the first response from Pentagon was, according to one government official close to the situation, “You’ve got to be kidding.” But the State Department has been making the case for acceding to the Russians’ demands, and the White House seems to be on State’s side. The White House has also stonewalled requests for information from the congressional intelligence committees.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Humor, Politics, Russia | Tags: Speak Softly-No Sticks, The Wages of Passivity, U.S. Foreign Policy
We heard on the radio that President Obama had a telephone conversation with President Putin. I thought this was funny!
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, History, Politics, Russia | Tags: Crisis in Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Military, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: Obama's FY 2015 Budget, Tomahawks & Hellfires, U.S. Missile Defense
President Obama’s budget for FY 2015 was widely heralded as “dead on arrival.” Spends too much on all the wrong things, and it will never get by the House of Representatives. Fortunately.
But reporters continue to dig into it to try to understand the president’s priorities. We know the major outlines—he’s big on redistribution of wealth, and wants millions to waste on climate restraining efforts.
We’re in the middle of the seventeenth year of a complete lack of observable global warming but the investment in catastrophic climate change is huge, and nobody’s going to give up with or without a fight. How is Obama to reward his supporters if he cant funnel subsidies to them through the guise of saving us from a nonexistent rise in temperatures caused by a benign rise in carbon in the atmosphere. But I digress.
What is noticeable as they dig into the budget is that in the wake of a world in turmoil, where it seems that everywhere passions and anger are rising, the cuts to our national defense are indefensible. Now we learn that the cornerstone of U.S. Naval power is eliminated under the Obama budget. The president is seeking to abolish two highly successful missile programs that experts say have helped the U.S. Navy maintain military superiority for the past several decades. The U.S.Navy has been responsible for keeping the world’s sea lanes open and safe—no small matter.
The Tomahawk missile program—the world’s most advanced cruise missile— is set to be cut by $128 million under the FY budget proposal and completely eliminated by FY 2016, according to budget documents released by the Navy. The Long Range Anti-Ship missile, an experimental anti-ship missile not yet capable of passing basic tests. The number of actual Tomahawk missiles acquired by the United States will drop significantly from 196 last year, to 100 in 2015, and zero in 2016. The stock would be completely depleted by 2018.
The Navy will also be forced to cancel its acquisition of the well-regarded and highly effective Hellfire missiles in 2015.
The proposed elimination of these programs came as a shock to lawmakers and military experts, who warned that cutting these missiles would significantly erode our ability to deter enemy forces.
Seth Cropsey, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, said “It doesn’t make sense. This really moves the U.S away from a position of influence and military dominance.” If someone were trying to “reduce the U.S. ability to shape events” in the world, “they couldn’t find a better way than depriving the U.S. fleet of Tomahawks. It’s breathtaking.”
While the military is seeing budgets cut dramatically, and equipment scaled back—the Tomahawk cuts seem not to be due to a lack of funds. The administration seems to be taking the millions spent on the Tomahawk program and investing it in an experimental program that experts say will not be battle-ready for at least 10 years.
Putin has on the border of Ukraine 20,000 troops, artillery, and attack helicopters. The Ukrainians asked for weapons, we said no, but offered MREs (meals ready to eat). Putin essentially said Russia was swindled at the end of the Cold War, swindled of its empire, swindled of its colonies and swindled of its own territory and I’m here to get it back. He’s also establishing bases in South America.
China is attempting to make the South China Sea its own private pond. Japan’s Prime Minister Abe is attempting to reform their pacifist constitution, and re-arm. North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Iran. Clearly a time to reduce our power in the world—so we won’t be thought to be a bully.
And the president can’t be bothered to attend National Security meetings?
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, National Security, Russia, The United States, United Nations | Tags: Commitments Abandoned, International Relations, Treaties Ignored
The Russian absorption of the Crimea seems to be a done deal. Obama is ordering sanctions, but apparently on the wrong people. One would think that they could at least sanction the bank accounts of people who would mind and do something about it. This is what Russia has been doing since the end of the Cold War— when it sees weakness and vacillation, they slide in.
The big problem is that our lack of understanding of how the world works, speaks loudly to the rest of the world. Putin, former KGB Colonel, knows what he is doing and has a good idea about what he can get away with. Russia is a mess. Life expectancy is around 55. Their manufactured goods are only for home use, and are not competitive on the world market. What they do have is lots of oil and natural gas, which Europe, due to their romance with wind and solar, and fear of global warming, desperately needs. Europe can thus be blackmailed. They have relied for too long on an American superpower which they can no longer trust.
On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama officially announced that he would abandon the Eastern European missile shield. The new man in the White House apparently felt that his “mandate” meant that he was free not only to break with the past, but to undo it. No scruples about reneging on long-term commitments of his country when they interfered with his own plans. So he scrapped the treaties George W.Bush had signed with Poland and the Czech Republic. The latter countries were not exactly pleased.
“Catastrophic for Poland” a spokeswoman at the Polish Ministry of Defense said. Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and founder of Solidarity observed with bitterness: “I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe. The way we are being approached needs to change.”Aleksander Szczyglo, the minister of defense at the time, told the press: “From the point of view of our interests, every U.S. soldier, every U.S. base on Polish territory, increases our security and binds us to the United States by a closer alliance.”
Continuity in international relations is essential. You just can’t jerk other countries around. The U.S. has historically respected it’s treaties, even those that the Senate did not ratify. We now have an administration unconstrained by preceding commitments. Nations whose good-faith gestures and risks are snubbed may have a very different view. Simply dumping treaty commitments may seem unimportant at the time, but it is the kind of thing that reverberates around the world affecting countries willingness to act in concert with us. Diplomacy by “reset button” damages our relations with everyone.
In a joint statement on December 4, 2009, the president of the United States, Barack Obama and the president of Russia, Dimitry Medvedev, confirmed the assurances of security to Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus given on the heels of these countries consent in 1994 to give up their nuclear weapons. According to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, the signatories pledged to “Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders” and “Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.” The Russians ignored the memorandum, but one does not expect much of Russia. Apparently one does not expect much of the United States either.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Military, National Security, Politics, Russia, The United States | Tags: A Weak America, Eastern Europe, Russian Aggression
Michael McFaul is the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. He left his position last month. From a March 15 Facebook post:
I am very depressed today. For those of us, Russians and Americans alike, who have believed in the possibility of a strong, prosperous, democratic Russia fully integrated into the international system and as a close partner of the U.S., Putin’s recent decisions represent a giant step backwards. Tragically, we are entering a new period with some important differences, but many similarities to the Cold War. The ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy is resurgent. Protection of European countries from Russian aggression is paramount again. Shoring up vulnerable states, including first and foremost Ukraine, must become a top priority again for the US and Europe. And doing business with Russian companies will once again become politicized. Most tragically, in [the West's] seeking to isolate the Russian regime, many Russians with no connection to the government will also suffer the effects of isolation. My only hope is that this dark period will not last as long as the last Cold War.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, Intelligence, National Security, Russia, The United States | Tags: "A New Collective Security", Liberal Internationalism, Welcome to The Real World.
So much for “liberal internationalism.” Fantasies are pleasant, but President Obama threatens consequences. He does not do consequences. President Obama’s National Security team convened this weekend to discuss the Ukraine crisis, after a last-ditch effort to find a diplomatic solution to Putin’s Cold War-style standoff. Secretary of State John Kerry was back from a London meeting with his Russian counterpart and was at the White House meeting along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. President Obama did not attend the meeting but was briefed about it separately.
60,000 Russian troops, according to Bloomberg News, are massed along the Eastern Ukrainian border. They are apparently waiting to enforce the will of the people, which is either vote to join Russia now or vote to join Russia shortly. Vice President Joe Biden will leave Monday on a visit to NATO allies Poland and Lithuania to show support for our key partners in the region. In Vilnius he will meet with the presidents of all three Baltic nations, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The Wall Street Journal said:
And what is to stop Mr. Putin? In the two weeks since Russian troops occupied Crimea, President Obama and Europe have done little but threaten “consequences” that Mr. Putin has little reason to take seriously.
The U.S. has refused Ukraine’s request for urgent military aid, and it has merely sent a few NATO planes to the Baltic states and Poland. The Russian strongman might figure he’s better off seizing more territory now and forcing the West to accept his facts on the ground. All the more so given that his domestic popularity is soaring as he seeks to revive the 19th-century Russian empire.
Left in shambles are the illusions of Mr. Obama and his fellow liberal internationalists. They arrived at the White House proclaiming that the days of U.S. leadership had to yield to a new collective security enforced by “the international community.” The U.N. would be the vanguard of this new 21st-century order, and “international law” and arms-control treaties would define its rules. …
The 19th-century men understand that what defines international order is the cold logic of political will and military power. With American power in retreat, the revanchists have moved to fill the vacuum with a new world disorder.
We could do broad economic and financial sanctions against Russia and its elites. If Europe does not go along, it’s another failure of U.S. diplomacy. The world’s banks can be made to face a choice between doing business with America and doing business with Russia. NATO could move quickly to deploy forces to Poland and the Baltic states. We could update the Bush-promised missile defense installation in Eastern Europe. Europe needs wake up to reality. Mr. Obama needs to learn that America’s adversaries aren’t impressed by his fanciful 21st century rules.
We’ll see. This national security team is not an impressive bunch.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, History, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Russia, The United States | Tags: Repercussions., There Will Be Consequences, We Need to Pay Attention
“Secretary of State John Kerry warned that there will be serious repercussions for Russia on Monday if last-ditch talks over the weekend to resolve the crisis in Ukraine failed to persuade Moscow to soften its stance.” That’s the Washington Examiner. And the repercussions are? The New York Times said Russian Troops and armored vehicles were massing in at least three regions along Ukraine’s eastern border. Angela Merkel warned that the Russian Government must abandon what she called the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. Retaliation?
Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov made it clear that President Putin is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday. (Washington Post) Putin was prepared to let the referendum go ahead despite warnings that it would violate both Ukrainian and international law. Kerry warned that “there will be consequences.”
Secretary Kerry said he offered assurances during the talks that the United States is not trying to threaten Russia.”We’re not trying to challenge Russia’s rights or interests” in Ukraine. But he said that he and President Obama are convinced that “there is a better way for Russia to pursue its legitimate interests in Ukraine.”
Lila Shevtsova, a member or the American Interest editorial board and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, says that we are falling into Putin’s trap.”Russia,” she says “is a ‘unique’ civilization and must contain the demoralized West: Russia can only exist as a galactic center, around which orbit satellite-statelets; Russia is the civilizational pillar whose mission is to defend ‘traditional values’ globally.”
Peggy Noonan notes in The Wall Street Journal that what is happening in the Ukraine is demanding our attention, demanding that we focus.
The most obvious Ukraine point has to do with American foreign policy in the sixth year of the Obama era.
Not being George W. Bush is not a foreign policy. Not invading countries is not a foreign policy. Wishing to demonstrate your sophistication by announcing you are unencumbered by the false historical narratives of the past is not a foreign policy. Assuming the world will be nice if we’re not militarist is not a foreign policy.
What is our foreign policy? Disliking global warming?