Tag Archives: Crimea

What Putin is teaching us about foreign policy: Obama’s weakness provokes aggression

Vladimir Putin and the Clown of the United States
Vladimir Putin and the Community Organizer of the United States

Other than Weekly Standard, my two favorite places to read about foreign policy are the Wall Street Journal and the UK Telegraph. And my favorite writer from all three of these is Bret Stephens, columnist at the Wall Street Journal.

Here is his latest article (click through to WSJ), then we’ll go to the UK Telegraph after.

Stephens writes:

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

So it is with this president. It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers.

Yes. Every time the President gives a speech on policy, you can count on him to present alternatives to his own very left-wing views as incredibly evil, incredibly stupid or both. He thinks that he knows everything, and that talking to people who disagree with him, no matter how qualified they are (e.g. – General Petraeus) would be a waste of time. Everyone who opposes his fact-free, pot-smoking, college dorm discussion view of reality is stupid or evil or both. And this man is President.

More:

For a relatively trivial investment of some jet fighters and a brigade-sized support force, Moscow extends its influence in the eastern Mediterranean, deepens a commercially and strategically productive alliance with Iran, humiliates the U.S., boosts Mr. Putin’s popularity at home, and earns a geopolitical card he can play in any number of negotiations—Ukraine, gas contracts, Mr. Assad’s political future, you name it. If things don’t work out, he can pull up stakes within a week without much loss of money, lives or prestige. It’s a perfect play.

Now let’s go to the UK Telegraph, and Matthew K. Lewis.

He writes:

Russian warplanes began bombing American-backed Syrian opposition strongholds on Wednesday, a move that can be viewed as the latest example of American humiliation abroad.

As was the case when Russians invaded Ukraine, the Russians cloaked their activity in lies.

In the former example, Russian soldiers didn’t wear uniforms, a thinly-veiled move meant to create the impression the fighters were merely Ukrainian “separatists.”

Likewise, Wednesday’s bombings ostensibly targeted Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil); in fact, the strikes were aimed at moderate rebels and civilians – part of a plan to take out any opposition to their client, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

[…]This all comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s drawing of a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, only to back down when the Assad regime – by most accounts – used them.

Weakness invites provocation, and – never one to miss an opportunity to outmanoeuvre Mr Obama – Mr Putin provided a self-serving opportunity that would also allow the president to save face: Moscow would push Syria to put their chemical weapons under international control.

[…]It’s also important to note that in the wake of the red line being trampled, Russia invaded Crimea. President Obama’s legacy may be mixed, but one thing is for sure: Vladimir Putin is much more powerful and provocative than he was before Mr Obama took office, and Russia has only expanded its sphere of influence.

[…]For those paying attention, Mr Obama’s foreign policy world-view has failed.

Russia is our enemy, and they are trying to undermine us everywhere they can. Obama is meeting this challenge with the typical weakness he has shown in negotiations and stand-offs since he went on his Worldwide Bow Down To Dictators tour. His priorities seem to be to cut military spending and impose political correctness on the armed services. His latest great achievement in that regard is to nominate a gay civilian who has never served in the military to be head of the entire U.S. Army. That’s what he is most concerned about, political correctness. Not national security and not foreign policy.

Obama to Ukraine: if you like your Crimea, you can keep your Crimea

Stephen F. Hayes explains (in the Weekly Standard) how screwed we really are with the Democrats running our foreign policy.

Excerpt:

On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.

Wow, I’m shocked that the Youtube video caused Benghazi liar didn’t see the invasion of Ukraine coming.

But it’s not just her:

On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, plainly unaware of the developments on the ground. Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point.”

Hours later, television screens across the world displayed images of Russian soldiers infiltrating Crimea and Russian artillery rolling through Sevastopol. Obama administration officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the incursion was not “an invasion” but an “uncontested arrival” and that this distinction was “key” to understanding the new developments.

Oh yes! Just like Hitler was helping out Poland with their economic problems.

Why is this happening? Well, a better question would be, why didn’t it happen sooner:

For five years, the Obama administration has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is. In this fantasy world, the attack in Fort Hood is “workplace violence.” The Christmas Day bomber is an “isolated extremist.” The attempted bombing in Times Square is a “one-off” attack. The attacks in Benghazi are a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video. Al Qaeda is on the run. Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer.” The Iranian regime can be sweet-talked out of its nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.

This foreign policy failure didn’t come from nowhere. There’s a whole list of failures that made Putin believe that the Democrats are weak on foreign policy.

Look:

Let me be clear. When Obama halted the scheduled missile defense shield in Europe, that was the end of Ukrainian sovereignty. We have to understand that Democrats are not just totally inept at fiscal policy and on social issues. They are also horrible at foreign policy. How many screw-ups must we witness before we understand that these people are not serious, and we shouldn’t be electing them?

What should the United States do now to punish Russia for invading Ukraine?

 

FairTaxNancy tweeted this list of seven responses for Obama to choose from Fox News columnist K. T. McFarland.

Here are some:

First: I will reverse my decision to halt the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  America will go ahead as originally planned and build the missile shield, but an accelerated basis.  That means U.S. military personal will be working alongside Polish and Czech military to construct and operate the systems. The missile shield is designed to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, but you get the point. Uniformed U.S. military will soon be stationed near the Russian border.

Second: I will reverse course on the defense budget.  Your defense minister just announced Russia is negotiating basing rights in seven nations around the world. He also said you were rebuilding old Soviet era military bases in central Asia.  Your parliament has just voted unanimously to invade Ukraine.  In light of that, this is no time for my Secretary of Defense to announce we’re gutting our military.

Fifth: I will send a trade delegation to Poland and other countries in Central Europe to explore ways of helping them use fracking technologies to develop their own gas reserves.  Chevron and Shell have already signed a $13 billion deal with Ukraine.  I expect others to follow.

At the same time I will throw roadblocks in front of any American energy company that seeks to develop your eastern Siberian fields.  Your existing oil fields in western Siberia have, maybe, a decade left.  You need our technology to develop new ones.  You’re not getting it.

Investors Business Daily had another list of seven energy policies that would deter Russia from aggression.

Here are some:

2. America should expand fracking. The U.S. is enjoying an energy renaissance, thanks to fracking, horizontal drilling and other technological advances.

But almost all of the gains in oil and natural gas production have been on private lands. Obama should move to open up public lands to energy exploration.

3. Promote LNG [Liquid Natural Gas] exports. LNG facilities are expensive to build. But the biggest obstacle is regulatory. The U.S. requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as an export license from the Energy Department. DOE licenses can take months, with the last four permits taking more than two years. It can take five years before an Energy Department OK turns into real exports. The Obama administration should work to streamline the regulatory process.

More LNG exports will bring down the price of natural gas worldwide. Many European LNG import facilities have been idle or running at low capacity. Exporters are sending shipments to Asia, where prices are even higher than Europe.

LNG exports will further reduce America’s trade deficit. Some argue that the U.S. should keep natural gas at home to give America an energy advantage. Chemical firms in particular want cheap natgas for fuel and as a raw material. But if domestic natgas prices rise, it should encourage more production. Shale output can be ramped up or down relatively quickly.

4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports. America has banned petroleum exports since the Arab oil boycotts of the 1970s. But with the U.S. poised to be the world’s No. 1 producer, whatever logic the prohibition once had is long gone.

The ban helps keep a wide gap between U.S. light sweet crude vs. London-based Brent — $6.28 a barrel as of Monday.

An export ban hurts U.S. producers and discourages output. It mostly benefits refineries, which are ramping up exports of refined fuels — at the global price.

Lifting the export ban in particular would have speedy impact on global crude prices, dealing a quick hit to Putin’s pocketbook.

5. OK Keystone XL pipeline. There are many reasons to back the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It would create thousands of jobs, lower oil prices and reduce the risk of crude-by-rail accidents. The oil is going to be produced anyway, which even the Obama administration admits.

That would hit Putin in his pocketbook, and show him that we are serious about deterring future aggression.

And finally, in yesterday’s post on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, I linked to an article with 8 responses, written by moderate Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

He had eight recommendations, and here are three of them:

Second, President Obama should dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine’s transitional government, and urge our allies in the European Union and NATO to send representatives there as well. The United States should convene an emergency meeting of NATO to develop a strong united response from the trans-Atlantic alliance. And we should send high-level delegations to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe to reinforce the fact that we are standing by them. As part of this work with our allies, we should develop a series of economic and security assurance measures to help the transitional government in Kiev remain stable and carry out a democratic transition.

[…]Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them – something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.

Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.

So there are three lists of things that we could do, if we as a nation were serious about protecting democracies from tyrants. In the 1991 Gulf War, America landed an entire army to kick Saddam Hussein out of peaceful Kuwait. But does Obama have the balls for that? I don’t even think he’ll do one thing from the three lists I presented above. He is not that kind of man. He just doesn’t care.