Friday, March 28, 2014

The old versus the new.

There is no doubt that Vladimir Putin has weighed Barack Obama and found him wanting.  The Wall Street Journal compared the two. One plays by 19th century rules, the other by those of the 21st century:

'You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext," declared John Kerry on March 2 as Russia began its conquest of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Though he didn't intend it, the U.S. Secretary of State was summing up the difference between the current leaders of the West who inhabit a fantasy world of international rules and the hard men of the Kremlin who understand the language of power. The 19th-century men are winning.

Vladimir Putin consolidated his hold on Crimea Sunday by forcing a referendum with only two choices. Residents of the Ukrainian region could vote either to join Russia immediately or to do so eventually. The result was a foregone conclusion, midwifed by Russian troops and anti-Ukraine propaganda. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Mr. Kerry's pleas for restraint on Friday in London, and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing the Crimean takeover a day later.

Next up for conquest may be eastern Ukraine. Russian troops are massed on the border, and on Saturday its soldiers and helicopter gunships crossed from Crimea and occupied a natural gas plant on the Ukrainian mainland. Scuffles and demonstrations in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Kharkiv, egged on by Russian agitators, could create another "trumped up pretext." (KF note: a "Crimean corridor" crisis?)

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.

Thus Mr. Obama's initial response to Mr. Putin's Crimean invasion was to declare, like Mr. Kerry, that it is "illegal" because it violates "the Ukrainian constitution and international law." As if Mr. Putin cares.

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.

Backed by Iran and Russia, Bashar Assad is advancing in Syria and may soon crush the opposition. Iran is arming the terrorist militias to the north and south of Israel. China is pressing its regional territorial claims and building its military. And Mr. Putin is blowing apart post-Cold War norms by carving up foreign countries when he feels he can.

The question now is whether Mr. Obama and his advisers will shed their 21st-century fantasies and push back against the new Bonapartes. Jimmy Carter finally awoke after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, but Mr. Obama hasn't shown the same awareness of what is happening on his watch.

We've written about the need for broad economic and financial sanctions against Russia and its elites. Skeptics reply that Europe will never go along. Even if that's true—and that would mean a failure of U.S. diplomacy—it shouldn't deter the U.S. from imposing its own banking and financial sanctions. The world's banks can be made to face a choice between doing business with Russia or doing business in America. We know from the Bush Administration's experience with North Korea that such sanctions bite.

The West must also meet Mr. Putin's military aggression with a renewed military deterrent. This does not mean a strike on Russia or invading Crimea. It should mean offering military aid to Ukraine to raise the price of further Russian intervention. Above all it means reinforcing NATO to show Mr. Putin that invading a treaty ally would lead to war. (KF note: To think we sent aid to Britain before we entered the war. Hitler had U-boats patrolling the seas for heaven's sakes. He ruled from Norway to the Sahara, from the channel to Moscow. Can't make Putin mad.)......

In response to the Crimean referendum Sunday, the White House issued a statement declaring that, "In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another." We shall see, but Mr. Obama first needs to understand that America's adversaries reject his fanciful 21st-century rules. Rest of editorial


Charlie Ali said...

N. Korea is not a good example of enforcement results. The Russians might successfully negotiate with Europe without our input. The term of Pax Americana is over if Europe works out something without us. Bush depleted our military and our economy in failed adventures in central Asia. Our current forced austerity is making our international commitments and security deals hollow. Our diplomacy is simply not for dominance in NATO or international finance or anything. We are a nation among peers now. Credit Bush 43 with that failure...the willing coalition is now 'the not quite willing'.

Anonymous said...

Obama: The most inept and incompetent POTUS in the history of the United States

Anonymous said...

Here's the difference: when Putin enters a room he's dressed in his camo battle attire with guns and hand grenades hanging off his belt.

When Obama enters a room he's wearing a lovely pink frock.

Anonymous said...

Putin finds everyone but Putin " wanting".

The UN can't do anything because Russia has veto power. NATO isn't stepping up.

What, pray tell, does the GOP suggest? Want to send in troops?

Looked at our deployment capabilities lately?

Want to nuke 'em?

So tired of criticism for the sake of criticism without one single practical offer of an workable alternative!

Anonymous said...

Can not leave 801 comment unaddressed --I have no axe to grind re 43 but ur comments are absolute BS!! Our current weakness can be traced directly to the "rot within" that was started by LBJ and the Great Society!! What do u expect when u pay people to breed,KEEP them dependent on the government dole in order to guarantee their vote to keep u in office--Get REAL!!

Alma said...

So tired 8:47 AM of your bullshit lectures.

Anonymous said...

If I had to guess Charlie takes pleasure in our downfall.

Anonymous said...

Putin had Obama pinned as a bitch from day one.

Also, everything is different in Russia. Their boys grow up learning to handle military grade weapons and are taught self defense classes at an early age. Our boys our taught to love one another and that they can really be girls if they so choose.

Anonymous said...

8:57 am So you support Bush's war in Iraq and staying in Afghanistan beyond running off the Taliban?
You support the running up of the deficit, not just on the wars but more spending during his administration by a GOP controlled Congress and increasing the size of government? You liked taking the teeth out of the SEC and banking de-regulation which led to those fiascos?
I agree with you about the Great Society and creating government dependence, but I'm not so party blind so as not to see Cheney's presidency ( and that's what it was) was a disaster!

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Vladimir Putin has weighed Barack Obama and found him wanting..... nice movie reference. always was one of my fav movie sayings. weighed and measured. good job KF

Anonymous said...

As previously stated--I have NO AXE to grind w 43--most of ur comments re Cheney reek of sum bs conspiracy theory--43 did what he thought was needed at the time! Our inability to control our destiny have NOTHING to do w 43 (I'm an independent btw)---it is all related to "long term internal rot" which has diluted our resources and resolve AND left us weak, uncertain and afraid!!

Toejangle said...

To 8:57
Love your comment about not being party blind----yet you were able to cite the liberal democrat talking points verbatim.

Kingfish said...

8:47: you obviously did not read the editorial. They have several options. Start putting missile defense systems in Poland as we were supposed to do years ago. Let Ukraine purchase arms or give them to them. Give Ukraine the means to defend itself. We DID make a deal with the country in order to get it to give up its nukes.

We can run guns to mexican drug cartels but can't run them to a country intent on keeping its independence? Please.

Anonymous said...

How embarrassing that we have a "clown in chief " such as we do. Maybe he will dispatch Michelle-My-Bell on that big plane and she will beat Putin's ass. If nothing else, she can make ugly faces at him !

Johnny Weir said...

Love 8:57 & 10:01 + Kingfish. comment. I agree Bush should have never attacked Iraq.
Also, Ukraine gave up it's NUKES with a promise that Europe & the US would protect it. That was the seeds of Ukraine downfall trusting Europe & the US.Some protection right.
Just watch Now. North Korea is going to start acting up. You heard it here 1st. from Johnny......Start buying up freeze dryed food & guns & ammo. The end is near.

Johnny Weir said...

11:12 comment is great too. Michelle-My-Bell & the childrens is in China on vacation.I guess trying to distract the public away from the Russian crisis. Also, Start building a Fallout shelter. No Joke. I've got mine.It's even equiped to survive a Nuclear Winter.

Come Back When You Grow a Pair said...

Come back Barry when you grow some

Anonymous said...

When I was in college, I took a course in 'International Law'

I will never forget the first day of class, the prof started the class by picking up the textbook and walking over to the trash can and dropped it in. he declared...'if you learn one thing in my class, it is that International Law is draw poker, with guns on the table.'

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 11:12, for making me smile and actually chuckle out loud. It's been a stressful week and '...make ugly faces at him' has been the highlight of my morning!

Anonymous said...

KF, how fast do you think we can get missile systems up in Poland and why do you think we haven't done that?

IF we had let Ukraine purchase weapons, some of them would be in Russian hands right now.

Could it possibly be that there were far too many old Soviet loyalists still around in those countries?

Or could lessons have been learned from having our weapons turned against us our former " friends" like bin Laden?

Could the fact that our military priorities have been elsewhere and are stretched a bit thin as are our economic resources be a factor?

Can the fact that we have a Congress who isn't going to support anything this President does and that our Presidents are not dictators limit options?

Putin doesn't have rules to limit him. He can make his own rules.

Anonymous said...

When a President plans to send our sons and daughters into harm's way, violates treaties and obligations, or long standing foreign doctrines, we should speak out.

If someone is in a position to have up to date information and analysis, knows that foreign policy decisions are being based on incorrect information or that the administration is lying to the American people, they should speak out.

It weakens us, however, to have foreign policy decisions second guessed for partisan political purpose.

Making our President appear weak because he lacks support at home is NOT smart whether it's justified or not.

There was a time we understood that there is strength in presenting a unified front to our enemies even if we have some disagreements among themselves.

There's a reason that " divide and conquer" became a well worn phrase.

Anonymous said...

Putin will do whatever he wants. No one respects or fears Obama, including our friends and enemies.

Regarding his response to 100,000 Russian troops on the Crimean border I am reminded of the old Cook & Moore routine about WWII:

Moore: I think we were all against the Nazis.

Cook: But I wrote a letter.

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