WaPo: Obama sanctions on Russia not enough for “first forcible change of borders in Europe since World War II”

posted at 10:01 am on April 29, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

While the Washington Post editorial board gets its position on sanctions correct, the editors have a little less luck on research. The Post slams the incremental increases in sanctions applied to Russia over its actions in Ukraine, actions which John Kerry claimed publicly are directly controlling the unrest in the eastern provinces of its neighbor. Calling the new sanctions “half measures,” the editorial board demanded more comprehensive penalties for Vladimir Putin:

President Obama’s response has been slow and excruciatingly measured. New U.S. sanctions announced Monday fall well short of the steps that senior officials threatened when the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine began three weeks ago.

No wonder that, even as he announced them, Mr. Obama expressed skepticism that they would work. “We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russia’s policy,” a top aide told reporters. This official acknowledged that the United States could take steps that would impose “severe damage on the Russian economy” but was holding them back. The obvious question is: Why would the United States not aim to bring about an immediate change in Russian behavior that includes sponsorship of murder, torture and hostage-taking?

Why, indeed? These are extremely serious and disturbing tactics used by Moscow, which should prompt a massive economic response from the West. Instead, Obama and his European allies dither, giving Putin no reason to stop using those tactics. When asked why the US insists on taking a micro-incremental approach, one “senior official” suggested that they didn’t want to impact economic growth in an election year.

Well, that’s one for the reprint of Profiles in Courage.

Still, the editorial board seems to have missed an entire decade with its payoff pitch in the conclusion:

Those are understandable motives, but they ought to be trumped by the imperative of standing unambiguously against the first forcible change of borders in Europe since World War II.

Ahem. The layers of editors and fact-checkers at the post seem oblivious to the Balkans Wars of the 1990s, when a number of European borders got redrawn by force. That’s odd, since the US conducted bombing campaigns against Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic when it resisted redrawing those borders. The UN got called in as peacekeepers and have been there ever since in one form or another, although they stood by and allowed the genocidal massacre of Srebrenica after establishing it as a sanctuary for civilians. And let’s not forget that the borders in eastern Europe remained static only by the threat of force, or in some cases — Hungary and Czechoslovakia among them — with force itself.

Marshal Tito only kept Yugoslavia from erupting into chaos through the use of his police-state force and Soviet support, and his nation barely lasted twelve after his death, and three after the beginning of the Soviet collapse. No one puts Baby Tito in the corner, or Milosevic either when it comes to forcible border changes in Europe, not even the Washington Post’s editors.

Getting back to the sanctions, McClatchy’s Kevin Hall isn’t impressed either:

While the new sanctions don’t target Russia’s energy sector _ Obama said that step would be taken if Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine _ they take aim at individuals whose wealth comes largely from Russia’s vast oil and natural gas industry. The reluctance to impose broad sanctions on Russian sales of oil and natural gas reflects concerns that such a step would cripple Europe’s economic recovery _ the European Union is deeply dependent on Russian energy _ and likely drive up global oil prices, which would hurt U.S. consumers and slow the U.S. economy ahead of hotly contested midterm elections in November.

The sanctions also don’t target Putin. “The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin, personally,” Obama said. “The goal is to change his calculus with how the current actions he’s engaging in in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy.”

“It seems to me a pretty modest step,” said Michael Singh, a former senior national security adviser in the Bush administration, who thinks the administration’s approach has emboldened rather than punished Putin. “You have to be willing to show that you are ultimately willing to incur a cost to deter Russia.”

Maybe Obama will have more flexibility after the election, eh?

Update: Forgot to include tweet from my friend Olivier Knox at Yahoo News, who tipped me to the problem.


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Makes a WaPo editor wonder if they should have done a bit more research on the community organizer before championing his election to the Big Chair.

Nah, they don’t wonder.

Bishop on April 29, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Mr. Obama expressed skepticism that they would work. “We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russia’s policy,” a top aide told reporters.

Translation: we don’t expect there to be a long term change either, but doing something for the sake of doing something makes it look like we’re doing something. And by this time next year this will all be old news.

Fenris on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

I think we oughta bomb the Chinese embassy in Kiev.

Akzed on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

This is not the first time since WWII that European borders were changed by force. I believe there was a series of wars in the Balkans in the 1990s where this happpened. How soon we forget.

jerryofva on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Ahem. The layers of editors and fact-checkers at the post seem oblivious to the Balkans Wars of the 1990s, when a number of European borders got redrawn by force.

There were some (primarily in the academy) who were trying to argue Yugoslavia out of Europe at the time. Amusing intellectual contortions, to be sure.

Maybe some of them made it on to the WaPo’s editorial board…

JohnGalt23 on April 29, 2014 at 10:15 AM

This is not the first time since WWII that European borders were changed by force. I believe there was a series of wars in the Balkans in the 1990s where this happpened. How soon we forget.

jerryofva on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Hey, that’s right. You should send Ed an email, he’ll probably want to put that in a blog post.

RINO in Name Only on April 29, 2014 at 10:19 AM

But Obama would jump in to save Putin from drowning?! This has to mean something good, right?

Scottie on April 29, 2014 at 10:19 AM

But have the crossed the redline yet?

melle1228 on April 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

WaPo: Obama sanctions on Russia not enough for “first forcible change of borders in Europe since World War II”

Well good Lord, what the hell do you want him to do? Stomp his feet and whip out his pen and his cellphone? Why not? It worked so well for Obamacare, and we all know what a screaming success that’s been.

Harbingeing on April 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Oh for pete-sakes,..just like the Asian Tour,…its all
under control:

Tweets All / No replies

Retweeted by Reuters Top News
Reuters World ‏@ReutersWorld 20m

Obama reassured allies during Asia trip, but not everything went according to plan: http://reut.rs/1rzx3ps pic.twitter.com/64b4PALBwX

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

jerryofva on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Clinton’s Forgotten War. Stricken from the record of history for the sake of Queen Hillary.

Brat on April 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters 5m

EU imposes more sanctions on Russia over #Ukraine. Moscow says EU doing Washington’s bidding: http://reut.rs/1hMjdyQ pic.twitter.com/HcpjxyKiN3

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

LOL– Yeah I heard O is winning the new cold world one hashtag at a time. :)

melle1228 on April 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

According to Obama, if you don’t like what he is doing, you just want to start shooting people randomly in eastern Europe.

You objections are therefore merit-less. Welcome to the 21st century.

Mord on April 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Must be time for more separate vacations…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM

If by some miracle, Obama actually imposes some serious sanctions, Putin will simply ask him, “But I thought you said you could be more flexible after the election?” Still, Europe doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to punish the Big Bad Bear either.

Deano1952 on April 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM

EU imposes more sanctions on Russia over #Ukraine. Moscow says EU doing Washington’s bidding: http://reut.rs/1hMjdyQ pic.twitter.com/HcpjxyKiN3

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

The EU is doing Washington’s bidding?!?!?!? That right there is funny. We all know Obama is just calling Putin’s bluff. Smart power!!

Harbingeing on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

This is not the first time since WWII that European borders were changed by force. I believe there was a series of wars in the Balkans in the 1990s where this happpened. How soon we forget.

jerryofva on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

To bad most of the US think it is part of the middle east. Sad really.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM

LOL– Yeah I heard O is winning the new cold world one hashtag at a time. :)

melle1228 on April 29, 2014 at 10:21 AM

melle1228:Hehe,….yup:)

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

He’s running out of places to lay wreaths, have state dinners, and sight see…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

That’s the problem with most effective economic sanction, they become cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The exception to this would be if we just stop doing economically stupid things. If instead we were to sell off over the next two years abouut 3/4 of our strategic oil reserve, open up vast new areas to oil exploration and put a federal tax on oil in the ground on states that won’t allow oil to be extracted Putin would be screwed.

The Russians would realize we could keep this up virtually forever, our economy would soar, and it’s likely people would realize why that just happened thus encouraging even more sane behavior on our part.

The status quo is us propping up the Russians and the Saudis.

nemo on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Have he, Mooch and the brats gone to Disney World yet…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

Names of Russian individuals and businesses targeted in new round of US sanctions: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20140428.aspx
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

Sanctions statement by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew at http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2368.aspx
Expand
=========

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

WH statement on new sanctions against Russia posted by @nscpress at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/28/statement-press-secretary-ukraine
Expand

https://twitter.com/markknoller

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

When the going gets tough, our President goes on vacation…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 24h

We briefly interrupt US sanctions on Russia for Monday’s cute kitty. From @EmrgencyKittens pic.twitter.com/ZT8K0AzYDR
View photo

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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 24h

Sr Admin Official says economic sanctions against Russia deemed a better path than supplying lethal military assistance to Ukraine.
Expand

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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 24h

“We don’t expect there to be an immediate change in Russian policy,” says a Sr Admin Official, but will impose more econ pain & isolation.
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 24h

US expects EU to impose new sanctions today on Russian individuals and businesses. Targets won’t precisely match US list.
Expand

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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 24h

Sr Admin Officials says Sergei Chemezov and Igor Sechin are the two sanctions targets deemed part of Pres Putin’s “inner circle.”
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

Senior Admin Official says “very robust” sectoral sanctions will be imposed on Russia if its troops move into Ukraine.

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

“Our goal continues to be for Russia to deescalate the situation (in Ukraine) so that additional sanctions are not needed,” says Lew.

Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

Lew says Russia already paying the price of declining growth forecasts, accelerated capital flight & higher borrowing costs.
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

In separate statement, Treasury Secy Jack Lew says the new sanctions, coordinated w/ the EU, “will increase the impact” on Russia’s economy.
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

WH also announces “a tightened policy” to deny or revoke export licenses for high-tech items that boost Russia’s military capabilities.
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

The sanctions also impose an asset freeze on 17 companies “linked to Putin’s inner circle.” 13 also hit w/ denial of US export licenses.
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

The US imposing asset freeze and visa ban on 7 Russian government officials “including two members of Pres Putin’s inner circle.”
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Mark Knoller ‏@markknoller 25h

WH just announced new sanctions targeting Russian individuals and entities and restricting licenses for certain U.S. exports to Russia.

https://twitter.com/markknoller

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

We should take definitive action – overthrow the Kiev government and ask Russia to annex the territory. Problem solved, no?

antisense on April 29, 2014 at 10:36 AM

nemo on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Yes going full bore on developing our own energy resources, and exporting them, is all that really needs to be done. No sanctions necessary. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.

Fenris on April 29, 2014 at 10:36 AM

When the going gets tough, our President goes on vacation…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Then, I expect to see him vacation quite a bit over the next year or two.

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Have he, Mooch and the brats gone to Disney World yet…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Oh please! To go anywhere so pedestrian is beneath the Obama family. Unless, of course, they are able to shut down the entire park for the duration of their visit.

Seriously, does that filthy Yeti really look like the type that would climb into a pair of mouse ears and a Disney sweatshirt?

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Retweeted by Reuters Top News
Nate Raymond ‏@nateraymond 3m

U.S. attorney general vows to track down Ukraine’s stolen assets @Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBREA3S0LZ20140429

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/29/us-ukraine-crisis-assets-idUSBREA3S0LZ20140429

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Then, I expect to see him vacation quite a bit over the next year or two.

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Like that is any different than now?

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Euro Disney?

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:44 AM

This is not the first time since WWII that European borders were changed by force. I believe there was a series of wars in the Balkans in the 1990s where this happpened. How soon we forget.

jerryofva on April 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM

To bad most of the US think it is part of the middle east. Sad really.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

And then there were those little things that took place in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia back in the 50′s.

Obama desperately needs a distraction from how badly he has screwed America, he is hoping this will be it. Sadly most people here are falling for Obama’s distraction.

oscarwilde on April 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Sadly most people here are falling for Obama’s distraction.

oscarwilde on April 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM

squirrel!

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Like that is any different than now?

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Only that he’ll triple up on the vacays. Every other week. And flying around the country campaigning doesn’t count.

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM

To bad most of the US think it is part of the middle east. Sad really.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Considering the lack of real education and the desire to learn, many in the US would probably have trouble finding the USA on a world map.

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

We should take definitive action – overthrow the Kiev government and ask Russia to annex the territory. Problem solved, no?

antisense on April 29, 2014 at 10:36 AM

That is, in fact, exactly what we did. Dept of State agents enabled and financed the first part. The second part was not exactly well thought of but Putin will take of the details.

Rix on April 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

And then there were those little things that took place in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia back in the 50′s.

I’m sorry, but do you mean the trouble the USSR had with those revolting Hungarians back in ’56 and Czechoslovakians in ’68, or were you referring to something else?

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Considering the lack of real education and the desire to learn, many in the US would probably have trouble finding the USA on a world map.

hawkeye54 on April 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Ask them to find Alaska. It’s comical.

upinak on April 29, 2014 at 10:57 AM

And then there were those little things that took place in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia back in the 50′s.

oscarwilde on April 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM

How did the borders change in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in the 1950s?

J.S.K. on April 29, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Matt Lee @APDiploWriter · 7s

An interesting read. RT @marieharf: .@stengel on Russia Today’s Disinformation Campaign: http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2014/04/29/russia-today-s-disinformation-campaign … @RT_com

https://twitter.com/APDiploWriter

canopfor on April 29, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

You’re right, what the hell was I thinking…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Maybe Obama will have more flexibility after the election, eh?

…he gets to do his destruction…at Mach speed!

KOOLAID2 on April 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

When asked why the US insists on taking a micro-incremental approach, one “senior official” suggested that they didn’t want to impact economic growth in an election year.

LOL. But isn’t winning domestic elections always the first priority of brilliant Lightworkers wielding their foreign-policy SmartPower?

Sure, Barry’s a “god” directing us lesser beings from his lofty perch above us, but even gods have to sometimes get their hands dirty to ensure that their corrupt cronies don’t get their asses booted out of office (isn’t that right, Evan Thomas?)

AZCoyote on April 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Apparently we are in an anti-meritocracy. You don’t get a high level job unless you are completely and totally inept in our government and the press. Leftism makes you stupid while you think you are smart.

jukin3 on April 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Besides the fact that the charge to impose destructive economic sanctions and make Russia a pariah state is based on lies, bogus history and cultural Marxist propaganda, it ignores the money.

America is soft on Communist China while being ready to lead sanctions against Russia because America does huge trade with China and little with Russia. (And because political correctness always makes it easier to attack white Christians, as “acceptable targets”.)

Besides, diplomatically, what Russia loses, China gains, and that’s all right with trade partner China.

Europe does lots of trade with Russia. Unlike America, sanctions on Russia really hurt Europe.

The case that Christian Russia is morally worse than Communist China does not exist.

There is no honestly or moral leadership in this. None at all.

America is up for sanctions against white Christians (but not Communist Chinese), as long as its others that get hurt. The EU bureaucrats are less enthusiastic, not because they are better morally but because they understand that they are the ones that would get hurt. And there is nothing else to see.

David Blue on April 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Marshal Tito only kept Yugoslavia from erupting into chaos through the use of his police-state force and Soviet support,

and USA support. Little known is the fact that the USA sent support and arms to Tito during the early 50s attempting to sway him further away from the Soviets (Tito played both sides).

oryguncon on April 29, 2014 at 12:24 PM

You know, foreign policy issues are a little easier to understand if one can just look at a frickin’ map. Crimea holds the only warm water port the Russians have. It would be strategically untenable for them to give it up. Plus Vlad would immediately be out of a job.

The diplomatic failure here is the Ukrainian government’s failure to reassure the Russians that the agreements the Russians had with the previous gov’t would be upheld, and the failure of the West to ensure the Ukrainian gov’t offered that reassurance. All the posturing going on is just theater. Russia holds the high cards (including our astronauts, no pun intended), and there is NO way they will agree to give up their Crimean naval bases.

JackOkie on April 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Hey, you can’t expect the WaPo editorial board to be aware of something that didn’t have a hashtag in front of it, can you? They’d need to have an attention span of more than 5 seconds.

talkingpoints on April 29, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Have he, Mooch and the brats gone to Disney World yet…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Oh please! To go anywhere so pedestrian is beneath the Obama family. Unless, of course, they are able to shut down the entire park for the duration of their visit.

Seriously, does that filthy Yeti really look like the type that would climb into a pair of mouse ears and a Disney sweatshirt?

Happy Nomad on April 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

I thought they did. Wasn’t there a big stink because they functionally closed the whole park with minimal notice and disrupted the vacations of a whole bunch of normal people? Early in his first term.

talkingpoints on April 29, 2014 at 2:25 PM