American Elephants

Parliament Authorized Putin to Restore “Social and Political Normality.” by The Elephant's Child

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.


Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures And Why They Matter. by The Elephant's Child

Mackubin “Mac” Owens is an American military historian. He has been a Dean at the Naval War College, a senior fellow at the Program on National Security at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and is the editor of its journal Orbis. He had an important column on Obama’s Foreign Policy at Real Clear World this week, one that everyone should read, to understand the shambles of American Foreign Policy, what we’re doing, and why it matters.

U.S. foreign policy is in shambles, characterized by drift and incoherence. It is at best a-strategic at worst anti-strategic, lacking any concept of how to apply limited resources to obtain our foreign policy goals because this administration has articulated no clear goals or objectives to be achieved. The foreign policy failures of the Obama Administration are legion: the Russian “reset” that has enabled Vladimir Putin to strut about as a latter-day czar; the betrayal of allies, especially in Central Europe, not to mention Israel; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq by failing to achieve a status of forces agreement (SOFA) that would help to keep Iraq out of the Iranian orbit; the muddled approach to Afghanistan; our feckless policy-or lack of policy-regarding Iranian nuclear weapons, not to mention Libya and Benghazi, as well as Syria. President Obama has said that he was elected to end wars, not to start them, as if wars are fought for their own purpose. Ending wars is no virtue if the chance for success has been thrown away, as it was in Iraq.

Observers disagree about the causes of the Obama failures in foreign policy. Some attribute them to indifference, others to incompetence-although the two are not unrelated. Still others contend that the results we are seeing represent the desired outcomes of more insidious motivations. But no matter the cause of Obama’s dysfunctional foreign policy, the result is the same: weakness that opens the way for those who wish America ill. Winston Churchill’s 1936 characterization of the Stanley Baldwin government as Hitler gained strength on the Continent echoes ominously today: it was, said Churchill, “decided only to be undecided, resolved to irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”

To the extent that it has any intellectual foundation, the Obama foreign policy represents a species of “liberal internationalism,” which holds that the actors in the international political system (IPS) tend towards cooperation rather than competition. Liberal internationalists contend that the goals of actors within the IPS transcend power and security; they also see an important role for actors in the IPS other than states, including international institutions such as the United Nations.

Here is the rest of the story:


%d bloggers like this: