Losing our illusions about Russia

posted at 2:01 pm on March 23, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

The other night, one of the classic movie channels on cable was rerunning Fail Safe, the iconic 1964 Henry Fonda film which gave a generation of children nightmares for years on end. It may be the stuff of legend for younger observers in the 21st century, but for those of us with a sufficient collection of gray hairs, that was the world we grew up in. Everything changed with the fall of the Soviet Union, but that history was never truly erased.

Ross Douthat has an interesting column this weekend which deals with some of the lingering misconceptions we in the West hold near and dear when it comes to the remnants of the USSR. In it, he argues that many of us seem to have divided into a pair of opposing camps on the subject of Russia, each with opposing perceptions of the current state of affairs and each equally wrong. These two visions are fairly neatly summed up here:

The first was the conceit that with the right incentives, eyes-to-soul presidential connections and diplomatic reset buttons, Russia could become what we think of, in our cheerfully solipsistic way, as a “normal country” — at peace with the basic architecture of an American-led world order, invested in international norms and institutions, content with its borders and focused primarily on its G.D.P. Not the old Russian bear, and not an “Upper Volta with rockets” basket case, but a stable, solid-enough global citizen — Poland with an Asian hinterland, Italy with nukes.

The second illusion was the idea that with the Cold War over, we could treat Russia’s near abroad as a Western sphere of influence in the making — with NATO expanding ever eastward, traditional Russian satellites swinging into our orbit, and Moscow isolated or acquiescent. As went the Baltic States, in this theory, so eventually would go Ukraine and Georgia, until everything west and south of Russia was one military alliance, and its western neighbors were all folded into the European Union as well.

The recent events unfolding in Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula, and potentially even Estonia, should be awakening us all to a rather depressing fact. Neither the illusion of Russia as a happy fellow traveler on the road of Western ideals nor the picture of the former Soviet Bear as a toothless buffoon, easily cowed and contained, are holding up well in the face of reality. The West, it seems, widely mistook humility from economic collapse for a sign of nascent Russian enlightenment. But even recognizing these errors after the fact, it’s equally obvious that there aren’t any quick, easy or logistically manageable solutions at hand. This has, in large part, to do with the unique ability of Vladimir Putin to build himself into legendary status – with the help of others both at home and abroad – while not holding the cards needed to run the table. Putin is aided in this effort by a lack of opponents who show any interest in calling him on what is only partially a bluff.

Meanwhile, in the Motherland, there are likely a great number of older Russians – now in more senior roles around the country – who still remember their glory days. I doubt they want to return to tension-filled nuclear standoffs, but they also recall when their nation was looked upon as one of two ruling powers on the planet. There has likely been some resentment at seeing their homeland treated like a joke in the international media since Reagan led the way to breaking up their empire.

Some of President Obama’s critics – among whom I count myself – frequently choose to portray Vladimir Putin as a massive figure, striding the world stage shirtless and unafraid in the face of perceived weakness among his enemies. We often contrast this with an American President who seems to lend himself to depictions involving mom jeans and a dorkish grin, drawing red lines which carry little threat beyond strongly worded letters and exhortations to allies which go largely ignored. But the reality is that Russia lacks the resources and the allies to go on an all out march to forcibly rebuild their former empire. Putin suffers from the same weakness of the national flesh as Kim Jong-un and a legion of petty tyrants who came before him. His muscular jab has a short reach, as observers of the sweet science like to say, and it is only effective when the opponent has a glass jaw. Yet he maintain the weaponry and local muscle to make a direct military confrontation with him a disastrous proposal.

But this situation won’t last forever. With the right leadership, the West can still win a long game, but it would require a combination of economic pressure and international diplomatic unity which still leaves Russia a way to back down while saving face. The only power base with the standing to pull this off remains the United States, assuming we can summon the skill to achieve it. There is still far more of Muhammed Ali than Buster Douglas in the spirit of the American people. This showdown, should Russia choose to pursue the path, will last far longer than the administration of Barack Obama, and Vladimir may want to watch Rocky IV a few times before considering his next moves.


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Putin has almost three full years to push Obama around before he has to worry about consequences. I hope Hillary doesn’t win in 2016 because I’m too old to start learning Russian.

myiq2xu on March 23, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Well, when so many people view Russia as an enemy, and view victory as “Russia joining the West” (rather than uniting as equals), what the Russians think and what they’re doing are no surprises.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

The only power base with the standing to pull this off remains the United States, assuming we can summon the skill to achieve it.

If you haven’t the wisdom to see the necessity and the will to do what is required, it doesn’t matter if you’re an incompetent and incapable of leading anything more significant than a pep rally.

novaculus on March 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

I am very fascinated by people who sit around fretting about Russia wanting to go back to the glory of old empire than I am about Russia actually doing such thing. Building empires take money. keeping empires take a lot more. Russia is an economy build on energy. They got nothing else. If you sit awake at night thinking about Russia marching on Europe, I wish you luck. and I hope you get to your doctor stat and ask for some xanex before you die of stress.

Russia is a country trying to prove they still got it. Whether they actually still got it, is another matter.

coolrepublica on March 23, 2014 at 2:13 PM

How about the Third Illusion that Russia is still the Soviet Union with another name and that nothing has really changed?

Russia like Germany and the United States will look out for its own interests and the shock that they acted in the Ukraine is naiveté writ large. All nations act for themselves and their own best interests. Did anyone really think that the constant eastward advance of NATO and the European Union would meet no resistance?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Losing our illusions about Russia.

Speak for yourself. I never had an illusions about Russia becoming our friend.
Romney was right and Obama looks like he is enabling Putin at this point.
I would not be surprised if Obama encouraged Putin to annex Crimea.

One thing is sure. Obama needs to go or risk that America gets annexed by someone.

redguy on March 23, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Fool in DC

LilliPutin is king of the world due to lilliputian in DC.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Petrodollar Alert: Putin Prepares To Announce ‘Holy Grail’ Gas Deal With China

Russia is once again thinking 3 steps ahead… and quite a few steps east.

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

I can remember when they said we should all learn Russian. It was offered in school. Apparently the academics even then thought we should join the enemy rather than fight them. Putin is doing what’s best for his country. Obama is doing what’s best for himself and his marxist gang.

crankyoldlady on March 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

I’d like to think that eagle stole the fish before the bear got to it, and then pooped on the bear as it flew over.

Maybe in 2017…

Wethal on March 23, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Well, when so many people view Russia as an enemy, and view victory as “Russia joining the West” (rather than uniting as equals), what the Russians think and what they’re doing are no surprises.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Blaming the US and the West, you incredible sheep. I hope that socialism/communism engulf you, looter.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 2:31 PM

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Soon obama can wipe his lilliputian azz with the US dollar.

Too bad the land will have to as well.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 2:32 PM

This showdown, should Russia choose to pursue the path, will last far longer than the administration of Barack Obama, and Vladimir may want to watch Rocky IV a few times before considering his next moves.

LOL. In real life Lundgrin (spl?) would have knock Stallone clean out of the ring.

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 2:32 PM

His muscular jab has a short reach

Here’s the illusion.

Russia’s muscular jab has a global reach.

DarkCurrent on March 23, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Too bad the land will have to as well.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Got Gold? Got guns?

VorDaj on March 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

The “two visions” of Russia fail to take Russia itself into account.

First of all, Russia has always been a regional, continental power, except for the possession of ICBMs and nuclear weapons on them in the 1950s. Historically, Russia’s main strength has been its army. Its attempts at air power and naval force projection have tended to end badly; Tsushima Strait in 1904 being just one example.

Secondly, Russia’s main worries have always been to its northwest and southeast. Poland’s empire, succeeded by Germany, have been its main boogeyman on the European side, and China, in all iterations, has been its bete noire’ to the southeast. Russia is now facing yet a third encompassing virtually its entire southern border area other than China; Islam. (The last time Russian troops met Islamic ones before Chechnya,it was under Prince John III Sobiewski of Poland-Lithuania,with Russia as a more-or-less junior partner in an alliance.)

Third, Russia’s battles, either offensive or defensive, have historically been fought on Russian soil. This gives them a sort of “home field advantage”, but also makes their leaders acutely aware of the disadvantages of fighting in their own supply base.

Put it all together, and Russian behavior that looks paranoid and even psychotically aggressive to us can look rigorously logical to Russian leaders. Most of whom tend to make decisions based on the facts on the ground, or what the Red Army used to call “objective conditions”.

And the system they’ve had for nearly 1500 years operates very strictly on the leader principle, no matter what “political philosophy” the leader subscribes to or uses the justify his actions.

It all depends on the point of view.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

(The last time Russian troops met Islamic ones before Chechnya,it was under Prince John III Sobiewski of Poland-Lithuania,with Russia as a more-or-less junior partner in an alliance.)

eon on March 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Aren’t you forgetting about the Russo-Turkish conflicts spanning some centuries?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Russia’s muscular jab has a global reach.

DarkCurrent on March 23, 2014 at 2:33 PM

In the neighborhood, in Central- and South-America.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Putin and obama have the same goal: the destruction of America. Both are somewhat restrained, but, as we are seeing, obama is, indeed, more flexible now. obama will achieve maximum flexibility around midnight on election day this November.

GaltBlvnAtty on March 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM

The problem, of course is American policy is being directed by the faculty lounge set who think that “The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back” is brilliant snark.

Russian policy, in the meantime, is being directed by adults.

Happy Nomad on March 23, 2014 at 2:46 PM

First of all, Russia has always been a regional, continental power, except for the possession of ICBMs and nuclear weapons on them in the 1950s. Historically, Russia’s main strength has been its army. Its attempts at air power and naval force projection have tended to end badly; Tsushima Strait in 1904 being just one example.

Except for those ICBMs…. and wasn’t the Russo-Japanese war like 110 years ago?

(The last time Russian troops met Islamic ones before Chechnya,it was under Prince John III Sobiewski of Poland-Lithuania,with Russia as a more-or-less junior partner in an alliance.)

More recently in Afghanistan as I recall

Third, Russia’s battles, either offensive or defensive, have historically been fought on Russian soil.

what historically became Russian soil might be more accurate. It didn’t start out as the world’s largest country by area I don’t think…

And the system they’ve had for nearly 1500 years operates very strictly on the leader principle, no matter what “political philosophy” the leader subscribes to or uses the justify his actions.

eon on March 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

As opposed to the more successful no leader principle?

DarkCurrent on March 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

What illusions are those? Only fools, the ignorant of history, and Democrats ever had any illusions about Russia.

I doubt anyone who actually there in the last 100 years had any. Including, and especially, the ones now living in the USSA.

Unfortunately, the Obamessiah, SoS Lurch, and the former SoS, AKA The Smartest Woman in the World, fit in all three categories. And they have been running our foreign policy for over five years. With three more to go, God help us.

farsighted on March 23, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Neither the illusion of Russia as a happy fellow traveler on the road of Western ideals

Fellow traveler?

Well played Jazz, well played.

Demographically, Russia is dying. Putin knows this and though I despise him and his tactics, I can understand what he’s trying to do: rebuild the Russian people’s belief in their country. Doesn’t excuse his behavior.

rbj on March 23, 2014 at 3:02 PM

“Russia is the enemy! Defeat the Russians! Have no illusions about Russia’s ill intentions!”… “why doesn’t Russia cooperate with us? :(”

Good heavens.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

On March 20th, two days after the killing of Sergei Kokurin, heavily armed Russian forces took over another Ukrainian military base in Crimea, in the Yevpatoria region. This time, however, Russians did not use their weapons. Instead they surrounded the kindergarten attended by the children of the Ukrainian soldiers. The Russian soldiers threatened to storm the kindergarten if the Ukrainian soldiers did not abandon their posts. As soldiers, these men had told the Russians that they would not surrender. But as fathers they did.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117122/donetsk-letter-ukrainian-russians-dont-all-want-putin-protection

agmartin on March 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM

The United States can’t even send an astronaut into space since Obama was coronated King.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:06 PM

1) You cannot lose what you never had,
AND
2) I don’t belong to either of those groups!

I saw Russia as the craven antagonist who hides in a corner looking for his opportunity as the protagonist becomes complacent.

jaydee_007 on March 23, 2014 at 3:14 PM

agmartin on March 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Would like to see evidence.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

None of the rationalizations for Putin’s acts change the fact that he is a tinhorn despot who knows he can take advantage of a weak and feckless Obama. It would be nice if we had a commander-in-chief who stood up proudly and forthrightly for American interests and values. Right now that seems like an impossible dream.

FOAF on March 23, 2014 at 3:19 PM

I saw Russia as the craven antagonist who hides in a corner looking for his opportunity as the protagonist becomes complacent.

jaydee_007 on March 23, 2014 at 3:14 PM

If Obama had been President on December 7, 1941 he would have issued some weak sanctions on minions of Tojo but otherwise done nothing. You’d think he’d care about Hawaii but the only thing he uses it for is his birth certificate and to stick the most expensive Vacay possible on the taxpayer and still be in the United States.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:20 PM

“Russia is the enemy! Defeat the Russians! Have no illusions about Russia’s ill intentions!”… “why doesn’t Russia cooperate with us? :(”

Good heavens.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Chicken shit Liberaltarian. Good heavens.

Walter L. Newton on March 23, 2014 at 3:21 PM

None of the rationalizations for Putin’s acts change the fact that he is a tinhorn despot who knows he can take advantage of a weak and feckless Obama. It would be nice if we had a commander-in-chief who stood up proudly and forthrightly for American interests and values. Right now that seems like an impossible dream.

FOAF on March 23, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Putin is going to take full advantage of this opportunity. With a weak and feckless leader in the United States he can re-assemble the Soviet Union or old Russian Empire.

Obama’s stated purpose was to turn the United States into a second rate power, and he is achieving it.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:23 PM

While Putin and the Russians are working to build a world power, Obama and the U.S. are focused on American Idol, Beyonce, gay marriage and amnesty. Who do you suspect will win?

bw222 on March 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM

I’ve never had any illusions about them. they will look out for themselves and do what is best for their country.
something we should practice.
and I see way too many people confusing respect for putin with admiration for him. he’s a politically smart person and has outmaneuvered our administration. you respect a tiger, you don’t bend over to kiss it.

dmacleo on March 23, 2014 at 3:30 PM

The US is still in a good position via Russia and China if we maintain the support of our allies. However, if allies perceive that you will not back them in a crisis, they will accomodate the other side and then our greatest advantage will be lost. Our slashing of the defense budget, our unwillingness to give arms to Ukraine or rebels in Syria after voicing support, our small bore reinforcement to the Baltics and other Eastern European allies in the face of Russian moves that have them severely anxious makes our support look doubtful.

Who can replace the US leadership that secured relative peace for the last 70 years? Germany has no nukes and insufficient energy. Japan has no nukes and few raw resources including energy and cannot even feed its own population agriculturally. We can rightly say that Europe and our Asian allies should do more to defend themselves, but they are nowhere near where they need to be to stand up to Chinese or Russian aggression in the absence of the US.

KW64 on March 23, 2014 at 3:30 PM

The last time Russian troops met Islamic ones before Chechnya,it was under Prince John III Sobiewski of Poland-Lithuania,with Russia as a more-or-less junior partner in an alliance.

The other commenters have been correct to point out the Russian’s tangled with the Turks in the 18th and 19th Century and Afganistan is still an open wound among the Russian military.

As far as the Polish defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1683 at Vienna, while there might have been the odd Russian enrolled in some of the infantry units, the Russian state played no role in that effort. The Polish state at that time still represented the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth, although after almost a century of fighting the Swedes, Turks, Russians and most unfortunately themselves, the Commonwealth was teetering on collapse, which, in the absence of strong leadership and the treason of some of the leading nobles, led to the demise of the country in the early 18th century.

But, as some have pointed out, the Russians have long memories and they view the resurgence of Poland as a threat. The best option for the Ukraine now is a strategic alliance with both Poland and Lithuania, which they should have done in 1645, but that’s another story. With that alliance Poland and Lithuania promise to come to Ukraine’s assistance, then when the Russians attack either Poland or Lithuania as they assist the Ukraine, it triggers the NATO alliance, although I’m not exactly sure how much that is worth.

ironmarshal on March 23, 2014 at 3:30 PM

…with the right leadership….

Well that’s going to be awhile. And still left up to the low-info, low IQ voter.

GarandFan on March 23, 2014 at 3:32 PM

I’m still dazed and confused from the 50′s and 60′s, but it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Russian psyche seems not to have changed much in the last 300 years, at least. Their literature seems to describe best the Russian’s ‘soul’ – black. They seem to have been so concerned with enemies, internal (individually and as a country) and external, that they seem to have maintained an ancient, paranoid view of the world and to such an extent that their inventiveness seems to have been of a very narrow nature – control through intimidation and militarism. Seems to me that Putin is being rational, in the traditional Russian sense. Expand the borders through annexation and intimidation. ‘Mother’ Russia must survive. To Hell with cooperation and the evil influence of modernity.

vnvet on March 23, 2014 at 3:33 PM

How about the Third Illusion that Russia is still the Soviet Union with another name and that nothing has really changed?

Russia like Germany and the United States will look out for its own interests and the shock that they acted in the Ukraine is naiveté writ large. All nations act for themselves and their own best interests. Did anyone really think that the constant eastward advance of NATO and the European Union would meet no resistance?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM

People who don’t understand Russian history only understand the country’s behavior through the lens of the USSR. To the Russian people and its political class, Crimea has been part of the national identity since the days of Catherine and Peter the Great. Even the most pro-Western czar would have taken forceful action to keep Crimea safely in the Russian sphere- what the Russians perceive as a defensive action to protect their only warm water naval bases.

The US has long touted the Monroe Doctrine, so it’s surprising that some people are so aghast to learn that Russia feels entitled to keep territories dominated by Russia for many centuries under its wing.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Referring to movies in order to understand world concepts is not really a bad idea. After all movies are windows into the soles of the people at the time the movie was made. That’s why the hairdos of the actors, especially the woman are more likely to be correct for the times that the movie was made rather then the period depicted in the move. That also could explain why John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart were fighting the Japaneses and the Nazis in the mid 1930′s.

In this frame work I offer the move Alexander Nevsky by Eisenstein.

Don’t miss guess the power of 900 years of Russian Nationalism with the misguided Russia of Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky and all the other community organizers from Chicago.

The mistake would be as big as confusing Weather with Climate in the effects of Globule warming.

jpcpt03 on March 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

What exactly does the United States gain from whatever you define as a ‘victory’ in the Ukraine?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

While Putin and the Russians are working to build a world power, Obama and the U.S. are focused on American Idol, Beyonce, gay marriage and amnesty. Who do you suspect will win?

bw222 on March 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Russia just lost Ukraine to pro-Western leaders in a national uprising that witnessed the pro-Kremlin president chased out of Kiev. Putin isn’t exactly ‘winning’.

You lose.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

The US has long touted the Monroe Doctrine, so it’s surprising that some people are so aghast to learn that Russia feels entitled to keep territories dominated by Russia for many centuries under its wing.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Wow. I actually agree with you on something!

Nations have spheres of influence, more so in a multi-polar world like the 19th century was and to which the modern world is slowing returning. The Monroe Doctrine was the US establishing its own sphere of influence.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Russia just lost Ukraine to pro-Western leaders in a national uprising that witnessed the pro-Kremlin president chased out of Kiev. Putin isn’t exactly ‘winning’.

You lose.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Really?

Thanks to the fact that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is known to have no pants Russia has rendered Ukraine landlocked and are massing tanks on their borders ready to seize even more territory (or the whole country) at any time.

The biggest threat to Russia advancing into any country it wants to take over is running out of fuel, not the Obama Regime.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Nations have spheres of influence, more so in a multi-polar world like the 19th century was and to which the modern world is slowing returning. The Monroe Doctrine was the US establishing its own sphere of influence.

[sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:44 PM]

Yes, we must treat good and evil equally.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Russia just lost Ukraine to pro-Western leaders in a national uprising that witnessed the pro-Kremlin president chased out of Kiev. Putin isn’t exactly ‘winning’.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Now we are back to disagreement. Obama has lost credibility and that isn’t a small thing, and Putin isn’t done by a long shot.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Yes, we must treat good and evil equally.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Not at all, but it’s one of the curiosities of history how those polarities reverse themselves.

vlad martel on March 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Now we are back to disagreement. Obama has lost credibility and that isn’t a small thing, and Putin isn’t done by a long shot.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Exactly. Obama has blown any shred of credibility he had left on the foreign stage with his weakness here.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Read “American Betrayal,” by Diana West… you’ll see that history is repeating itself, I suspect intentionally.

dpduq on March 23, 2014 at 3:56 PM

“Thanks to the fact that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is known to have no pants”

TMI lol. But you are right.

FOAF on March 23, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Yes, we must treat good and evil equally.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Moral crusading is what led the US into Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Afghanistan and it doesn’t work. The fact that other nations aren’t nice, or that Uganda is passing laws that allow for the death penalty for homosexuality isn’t our problem.

The world is a hard place and power is what determines who wins and who loses, not moral brownie points.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:56 PM

After all movies are windows into the soles of the people at the time the movie was made.

jpcpt03 on March 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

.
I’d be more inclined to read your ideas with interest if you didn’t have a podiatrist’s point of view…

ExpressoBold on March 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Exactly. Obama has blown any shred of credibility he had left on the foreign stage with his weakness here.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM

He should never have drawn those ‘redlines’ in Syria, or in the Crimea. Obama doesn’t grasp that empty threats and cheap posturing aren’t going to impress people who live outside the western world.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Yes, we must treat good and evil equally.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

In the case of emergency, please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

antisense on March 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Why is the middle name in all-caps?

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Excuse me but Europe has to wake up and make itself energy independent of Russia and begin to defend their own interests. They have depended far too much on the United States to be the world policeman. And, then when we do, they just kick us in the shins and call us bullies.

SC.Charlie on March 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

ConstantineXI:

“If Obama had been President on December 7, 1941″

A while back I wrote a little essay for my own amusement:

Dec. 8, 1941:

At a press conference today, President Barack Obama issued an angry condemnation of yesterday’s surprise attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, after which over 2000 American servicemen were found to have died. “I am now consulting with the State Department and military leaders but we shall not let this go unanswered” said the grim-faced Commander-in-Chief. At the same time he cautioned Americans from fostering “racism against Asians”, citing the popular Charlie Chan detective series as an example.

President Obama did not take questions from the press. Immediately afterward a White House press release announced the dispatch of a platoon of Marines to Maui, “to show our determination and resolve”.

FOAF on March 23, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Why is the middle name in all-caps?

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

He must be an evil racist member of the KKK…or he respects Obama enough to think that Obama isn’t a complete and total moron, but rather that Obama intends to do the damage he does.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Still pretty weird to emphasize a middle name.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 4:11 PM

[sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 3:56 PM]

I’m not any moral crusade and I’m fully aware of and comprehend the importance of realpolitik. My comment was to bring these back to the essential character of foreign affairs and diplomacy for the US. But I can see that you don’t quite get it if you think moral crusading was what led us into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Do you folks think maybe Pooty timed his invasion of Ukraine to coincide with Barry’s obsession with NCAA brackets?

slickwillie2001 on March 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Russia just lost Ukraine to pro-Western leaders in a national uprising that witnessed the pro-Kremlin president chased out of Kiev. Putin isn’t exactly ‘winning’.

You lose.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Russia just gained a big, useful chunk of previously Ukrainian territory without even a fight. Putin is clearly winning.

DarkCurrent on March 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM

My comment was to bring these back to the essential character of foreign affairs and diplomacy for the US.

Sorry, but what does good and evil have to do with what is in the best interests of the United States geopolitically?

Assad isn’t a nice man, so we should overthrow him? That is the argument being made and it ignores the reality on the ground.

But I can see that you don’t quite get it if you think moral crusading was what led us into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dusty on March 23, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Nation building ring a bell?

Religion of Peace ring a bell?

Building schools for girls and hosting elections while enshrining Sharia law in the constitution? Wouldn’t want to impose any western ideas on those poor darlings.

“Islam is Peace” Says President

These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

A mass bombing campaign and special forces on the ground could have done what was needed, but that wasn’t ‘good’ and ‘pure’. In fact that would have been downright nasty, so in marched the troops in what was called Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It was all moral crusading for democracy with little thought given either to reality, or to what best served the US national interest.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM

…some a$s…is braying…for nothing again!

KOOLAID2 on March 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM

You lose.

bayam on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

You need a better brain, loser.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Britain has adopted Sharia now.

No wonder the Britains find Russia more palatable than the EU.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:41 PM

This is Barack’s second and last term. He is being flexible.

unclesmrgol on March 23, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Leftists, I triple dare you, name one foreign policy success of obama/Hillary/Kerry, from which a nation is free or freer.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 4:45 PM

eon on March 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Afghanistan comes to mind.

unclesmrgol on March 23, 2014 at 4:47 PM

But the reality is that Russia lacks the resources and the allies to go on an all out march to forcibly rebuild their former empire.

They’ve got oil, money, a military, a navy and nukes and they’re allying themselves with China. Did you see they’re wanting to set up naval bases in Cuba (again) and Central America. Crimea voted to become part of Russia. Eastern Ukraine wants to join Russia too.

Sure, keep telling yourself Russia lacks the resources and allies to rebuild their former empire.

Ruckus_Tom on March 23, 2014 at 4:48 PM

How about the Third Illusion that Russia is still the Soviet Union with another name and that nothing has really changed?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM

They are. It’s not an illusion. They just abrogated a treaty with the United States and the Ukraine, and they just acted like the Soviet Union acted in the matter of Poland — or, if you want to use a more closer example — how Germany acted in the matter of Czechoslovakia.

I’m betting that Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are going to move a lot closer to the United States as a result. They are going to want our troops on their soil as a tripwire.

Let’s see how the United States takes the surrender of US troops to the Russians.

unclesmrgol on March 23, 2014 at 4:51 PM

They are. It’s not an illusion.

The Soviet Union is gone.

If you want to argue that the Soviets migrated to Washington DC, you would find some evidence to back that up.

They just abrogated a treaty with the United States and the Ukraine,

No they did not.

The Budapest Memorandum only comes into effect when a nuclear weapon is used or its use is threatened.

and they just acted like the Soviet Union acted in the matter of Poland — or, if you want to use a more closer example — how Germany acted in the matter of Czechoslovakia.

Or the US in the Mexican-American war, the French in Algeria, the US in the Spanish-American war, Britain in the Suez, etc. There acting in their own self interest doesn’t amount to the Soviet Union.

I’m betting that Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are going to move a lot closer to the United States as a result. They are going to want our troops on their soil as a tripwire.

I am betting that they start making accommodations with Russia as NATO slowly comes apart.

Let’s see how the United States takes the surrender of US troops to the Russians.

unclesmrgol on March 23, 2014 at 4:51 PM

What US troops are you talking about?

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM

bayam, Kerry killed the Monroe Doctrine.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Wethal on March 23, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Lol! We can hope…

Shay on March 23, 2014 at 5:03 PM

His announcement prompted some analysts to conclude that Mr. Obama is retreating from Latin America as critics say he has done in other key regions of the world.

Putin is moving into Cuba, Venezuela and other lands.

The list includes Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles, Singapore and several other countries

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2014 at 5:07 PM

He must be an evil racist member of the KKK…or he respects Obama enough to think that Obama isn’t a complete and total moron, but rather that Obama intends to do the damage he does.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 4:08 PM

I always spell his name Barack HUSSEIN Obama because it explains that none of this is accidental.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 5:31 PM

One thing is sure. Obama needs to go or risk that America gets annexed by someone.

redguy on March 23, 2014 at 2:15 PM

We’ve already been effectively annexed… by Kenya. There is no difference between the Obama Regime and the Turd World amateurish dictatorship he is from.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I always spell his name Barack HUSSEIN Obama because it explains that none of this is accidental.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 5:31 PM

I waver back and forth between Obama being moronic, or diabolic. My cynicism suggests its no accident, but I like to have proof of something before believing it. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter as the damage is still the same.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 5:34 PM

2m ago
US intelligence officials reportedly believe Edward Snowden is working with Russia, lawmaker tells @nytimes
read more on nytimes.com

Murphy9 on March 23, 2014 at 5:42 PM

I waver back and forth between Obama being moronic, or diabolic. My cynicism suggests its no accident, but I like to have proof of something before believing it. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter as the damage is still the same.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 5:34 PM

I believe it’s both things. Obama is both malevolent AND utterly stupid. His stupidity is the only thing saving us actually.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Quite simply the economy will prevent the federal government from providing the same hegemony in Europe and other parts of the world post WWII.

After the war, the US economy was able to grow for decades, relative to former world power.

But with the massive trade deficit, that is no longer possible.

The only other way to pay for what a lot of people here want is to extract tribute from those who are meant to be protected. If we don’t get it through a favorable trade imbalance, then transfers in the figures of hundreds of billions need to occur.

Until then don’t expect congress to come up with such a budget on our own dime. It’s political poison.

FrankT on March 23, 2014 at 5:55 PM

MeanWhile, ……………………………:

Crimean crisis
11h
More: NATO’s top military commander says Russia has enough force on Ukraine’s border to ‘run to Transdniestria’ in Moldova, if it decided to do so – @Reuters
end of alert

https://twitter.com/Reuters
============================

Retweeted by NATOSource
Air Force Times ‏@AirForceTimes 5h

Obama aide: ‘Possible’ Russia could enter Ukraine http://bit.ly/1ripupO
Expand
======

Retweeted by NATOSource
BBC Breaking News ‏@BBCBreaking 9h

Turkey’s PM Erdogan confirms Turkish armed forces shot down Syrian jet, saying it violated Turkish air space http://bbc.in/1halX50
Expand

https://twitter.com/NATOSource

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Crimean crisis
11h
====
NATO’s top military commander says Russian force at Ukraine’s eastern border is ‘very, very sizable and very, very ready’ – @Reuters
end of alert

http://www.breakingnews.com/

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Crimean crisis
11h
More: NATO’s top military commander says Russia has enough force on Ukraine’s border to ‘run to Transdniestria’ in Moldova, if it decided to do so – @Reuters

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Retweeted by NATOSource
Air Force Times ‏@AirForceTimes 5h

Obama aide: ‘Possible’ Russia could enter Ukraine http://bit.ly/1ripupO
Expand

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140323/NEWS08/303230021?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
====================================================

https://twitter.com/NATOSource

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:09 PM

But the reality is that Russia lacks the resources and the allies to go on an all out march to forcibly rebuild their former empire.

The Obama World Order: Can We Really Manage a Policy of Quintuple Containment?

Both India and China have always reserved the right to launch Crimea-type operations themselves, in their own neighborhoods. And so in vindicating Russia’s right to muscle its small neighbors, they are vindicating their right to do the same.

Both India and China are allies with Russia. Russia is not isolated.

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Would like to see evidence.

Federati on March 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Do you ask to see evidence when Russia Today or some other Kremlin propaganda organ claims all Ukrainians are neo-Nazis and that Euromaidan was some artificial thing fomented by George Soros, freemasons, the illuminati, the Knights Templar, Monsanto, Emmanuel Goldstein, and Farmer Jones? Or do you reserve your skepticism for those of us who fail to share in your Putin-as-messiah fetishism?

Walter Sobchak on March 23, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Crimean crisis
11h
More: NATO’s top military commander says Russia has enough force on Ukraine’s border to ‘run to Transdniestria’ in Moldova, if it decided to do so – @Reuters

And to think the State department orchestrated the conspiracy to overthrow the Ukranian president that precipitated the crisis. Not to mention Obama sending the gay athletes to the Sochi ceremonies as a prior provocation?

If our useless leftist leadership is making us more enemies abroad, the correct response would be to undermine their efforts, much like the left did during the Bush wars. In other words don’t be sheeple asking Barry to do more of the same, giving him bipartisan cover.

It’s best for American national interests to have this be a failed presidency and move on.

FrankT on March 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM

More: NATO’s top military commander says Russia has enough force on Ukraine’s border to ‘run to Transdniestria’ in Moldova, if it decided to do so – @Reuters

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:07 PM

The speaker of Transnistria’s parliament had urged Russia earlier to incorporate the region.

Russia Formally Annexes Crimea, Transnistria Requests Same

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Rooski Troop Movements,
Ukraine Mobilization:

CIGeography ‏@CIGeography 12h

Have you seen all our graphics on #Ukraine? #map http://bit.ly/1kFwRUs http://bit.ly/1nuPUp1 http://bit.ly/1bVnOhr pic.twitter.com/O9GKgU10ex

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:24 PM

And to think the State department orchestrated the conspiracy to overthrow the Ukranian president that precipitated the crisis. Not to mention Obama sending the gay athletes to the Sochi ceremonies as a prior provocation?

The State department didn’t “orchestrate” anything. Ukrainians were tired of having the country looted by Putin’s stooge Yanukovyc. And if you think Putin is going to let his foreign policy be influenced by who Obozo sends or doesn’t send to Sochi you’re delusional. Putin is an evil, thuggish tyrant, but he’s not stupid or irrational.

Walter Sobchak on March 23, 2014 at 6:26 PM

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:07 PM

The speaker of Transnistria’s parliament had urged Russia earlier to incorporate the region.

Russia Formally Annexes Crimea, Transnistria Requests Same

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Kaffa: It appears the Cold War Two, is ramping up, if Puty keeps it up.:)

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Kaffa: It appears the Cold War Two, is ramping up, if Puty keeps it up.:)

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Yep and it looks like India and China might be lining up with Russia and Iran against us. At least for now.

BTW, canopfor, this is a very good article on Breitbart: The Obama World Order: Can We Really Manage a Policy of Quintuple Containment?

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:36 PM

MeanWhile,….not a peep,..almost anywhere:

Mar 21, 2014, 02:59 PM GMT 2d
Poland to choose best missile defense offer within months, defense ministry says – @Reuters
read more on reuters.com
========================

CORRECTED (OFFICIAL)-Poland to choose best missile defence offer within months

Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:55am EDT
****************************

There are four bidders: France’s Thales, in a consortium with European group MBDA and a Polish state defence group; the Israeli government; Raytheon of the United States; and the MEADS consortium led by Lockheed Martin.
=======

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/21/poland-defence-idUSL6N0MI2PX20140321

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:39 PM

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Yep and it looks like India and China might be lining up with Russia and Iran against us. At least for now.

BTW, canopfor, this is a very good article on Breitbart: The Obama World Order: Can We Really Manage a Policy of Quintuple Containment?

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:36 PM

Kaffa:Thanks Kaffa,..I’ll check it out,..I apologize for jumping on you
a week or so ago btw:)

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Kaffa:Thanks Kaffa,..I’ll check it out,..I apologize for jumping on you
a week or so ago btw:)

canopfor on March 23, 2014 at 6:41 PM

No problem. I appreciate your posts. Good information.

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 6:43 PM

One of the question marks in the recent past was whether China would basically remain neutral in all of this, or become more supportive of Russia.

Let’s see… if one wanted to alienate China at this juncture without doing it in a military or overtly political way, how to go about it? Maybe we could abruptly send a high level member of the Obama administration, who is not technically a member of the administration, to China to behave in an abusive and insulting fashion… Asian countries are sensitive to such nuance…

So China turns more actively toward Russia as rebuke. Hmm, didn’t they just sign a huge natural gas deal that will bolster Putin’s resources and thus strengthen his hand? So helping Europe wean themselves from Russian gas won’t hurt Russia so much after all…

fabrexe on March 23, 2014 at 6:56 PM

One of the question marks in the recent past was whether China would basically remain neutral in all of this, or become more supportive of Russia.

fabrexe on March 23, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Following China’s unwillingness to vote against Russia at the UN and yesterday’s news that China will sue Ukraine for $3bn loan repayment, it seems Russia is returning the favor. Speaking at the Chinese Economic Development Forum, ITAR-TASS reports, the Chief Economist of Russia’s largest bank stated that “China’s Yuan may become the third reserve currency in the in the future.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-23/russia-returns-favor-sees-chinese-yuan-world-reserve-currency

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 7:18 PM

Egypt considering importing weapons from Russia: Interior minister

Looks like another use-to-be-ally is moving toward Russia. Obama wanted his mulim brotherhood and threw a hissy fit when they got kicked out.

Kaffa on March 23, 2014 at 7:32 PM

I always spell his name Barack HUSSEIN Obama because it explains that none of this is accidental.

ConstantineXI on March 23, 2014 at 5:31 PM
I waver back and forth between Obama being moronic, or diabolic. My cynicism suggests its no accident, but I like to have proof of something before believing it. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter as the damage is still the same.

sharrukin on March 23, 2014 at 5:34 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGdkqfBICw

There is your proof. It is certainly enough to get a conviction in court if the issue were “is obama a muslim?”

GaltBlvnAtty on March 23, 2014 at 7:39 PM

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