Putin holds the hammer (and sickle?)

Apparently, the very serious measures President Obama has announced haven’t fazed Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. From The Wall Street Journal:

Russia Moves Closer to Absorbing Crimea, Despite Sanctions
Putin Orders Approval of Draft Agreement on Annexation of Crimea

By Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon in Washington, and Gregory L. White in Moscow | Updated March 18, 2014 7:24 a.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off an initial round of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and defied warnings of stiffer punishment to come by taking another step toward annexing Crimea.

The Obama administration Monday enacted what it called the most comprehensive sanctions to hit Russia since the end of the Cold War. It targeted 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials, including some of Mr. Putin’s top advisers and the ousted former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, a close Kremlin ally.

The European Union followed by blacklisting 21 individuals. Unlike the U.S. it steered clear of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, wary of ratcheting up the East-West confrontation. Business ties run deeper between Russia and Europe, although the landscape gets murkier as tensions climb.

The officials blacklisted by Washington and Brussels laughed off the initial wave of sanctions, with many saying they have no overseas assets that could be targeted. Russian financial markets, which have been hit hard during the crisis, also jumped in what traders said reflected relief that the penalties weren’t more sweeping.

More at the link.

The sanctions are an annoyance, no doubt about that, but just an annoyance. They don’t have the power to undo Russia’s actions, or the bite to unseat President Putin, and everybody knows it. Thus far, Russia’s actions have been (mostly) limited to the Crimea, but if President Putin decides that his troops have to move into eastern Ukraine, ostensibly to protect the rights of the ethnic Russians and Russophones living there, he already knows that the West cannot and will not stop him.

In 1990, President Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi forces to invade neighboring Kuwait, which quickly fell and was annexed by Iraq. At the time, the United States had a real President, and the elder George Bush told President Hussein that he had to leave Kuwait, period, or he would be forced out. President Hussein didn’t believe him, and President Bush took action; after several months of fruitless negotiations, and an American-led Coalition military buildup, Mr Bush ordered the assault which drove Iraqi forces back out of Kuwait.1

But President Bush did what was possible; it is not (realistically) possible to tell President Putin that if he doesn’t evacuate the Crimea, or if he assails eastern Ukraine, that we will use military force to expel him. We will not go to war over eastern Ukraine — or all of Ukraine, for that matter — and everybody knows it. All that remains are non-military measures, and the huge entanglement of our European allies with Russia, primarily Russia’s supplies of natural gas and petroleum, means that democratic Europe can’t tolerate much in the way of economic or financial sanctions. With the coming of Spring, Europe will need less natural gas from Russia, but is in no position to get no gas from Russia. Everybody knows that, too. Ideas that we could replace the supplies that Europe receives from Russia depend entirely on the Obama Administration being willing to allow greater oil and gas production and transportation, but the President and his Administration seem more concerned about climate change warnings than foreign policy, so we might as well take that idea off the table.2

And here is where President Obama’s past foreign policy weaknesses have hurt his credibility: the famous red line that he drew, and that Syrian President Bashar al Assad stepped right across, showed the world just how seriously anyone needs to take the threats of President Obama. In what now seems like an obvious ploy, President Putin even helped the United States, by brokering a deal in which Syria would give up its chemical weapons,3 but it exposed Mr Obama’s weakness vis a vis Mr Putin. A former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin isn’t the kind to miss things like that. He took the measure of Barack Hussein Obama in Syria, and saw exactly what kind of an opponent he faced.

President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with the expression “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Reasonable people already knew that we could not and would not use that big stick against Russia, with her huge armies and nuclear weapons, but President Putin quickly determined that President Obama was very reluctant to carry that big stick even against Syria4 and Iran, and Mr Obama’s obvious distaste for the Israelis being willing to defend themselves vigorously only reinforced that view.

Bashar al Assad and Ali Hosseini Khamenei both showed that countries which could not resist the United States militarily if it came down to that could still flout Barack Obama’s demands, and that he would back down; a lot of not very nice men saw those examples and learned from them, and Vladimir Putin, who rules a country that the United States could not defeat militarily, certainly learned that lesson . . . because he helped to craft it!

Flags flown by demonstrators in the Crimea; note the old one in the center.

And so it has come to this: President Putin will do exactly what he wants to do, because he knows that he can do it. President Obama can bluster and fuss, which he will, but the former KGB officer knows that there’s just no threat like an empty one.

President Obama should be glad that there are no real reporters in the Kremlin, who could capture Mr Putin, on tape, laughing at him, because we all know that that’s exactly what he is doing.
_______________

  1. Regrettably, when we had Saddam Hussein on the ropes, the elder President Bush yielded to poor advice that President Hussein would be deposed by the Iraqi people, and stopped Coalition military action 100 hours into the ground assault. President Hussein survived, and this left it to the younger President Bush to finish the job.
  2. Even if the President reversed his policies, to allow such changes, the infrastructure to export large amounts of natural gas to Europe does not exist; port facilities would have to be modified and more liquified natural gas ships built.
  3. Which has begun, but which is also behind schedule.
  4. Sending out your Secretary of State to say that Bashar al Assad must go, twice, six months apart, and then forging agreements with him that do not require him to go does not exactly inspire confidence that your threats should be taken seriously.

26 Comments

  1. From The Washington Post:

    Biden in Europe to ‘reassure our allies’ over Russia’s moves in Ukraine

    By Scott Wilson, Tuesday, March 18, 7:07 AM E-mail the writer

    WARSAW—Vice President Biden arrived here Tuesday to reassure a set of allies anxious over Russia’s move into Crimea, a visit he will use to pledge additional security assistance and American help in diversifying Eastern European energy supplies heavily dependent now on Russian natural gas.

    Over two days, Biden will meet with the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all NATO members with old memories of Soviet domination and new fears of a resurgent Russia under President Vladimir Putin.

    A day after Putin declared Crimea independent , Biden will outline the next steps that the United States intends to take to reverse the Russian move into Crimea and prevent a broader military push into eastern Ukraine, an escalation that would bring the conflict to the doorstep of Poland and the Baltic states.

    Before addressing the Russian parliament, Putin on Tuesday approved draft legislation to annex Crimea, a step the Obama administration is seeking to head off. Putin’s actions follow a Sunday referendum in which Crimean voters — under the eye of Russian troops — chose to split from Ukraine and join Russia. The Obama administration and its European allies have condemned the takeover of Crimea as a violation of international law.

    More at the link.

  2. So, while we have a grim laugh at the humiliation of the Fascist Dweeb in Chief and his band of Leftist lesbian dwarves, botoxed gigolo ghouls, and moronically cackling sidekicks, the left is surely trying hard to find a way to spin this bitter amusement of ours into something akin to treason.

    If they cannot defend the performance of the floundering freaks of the Kollectivist Klown Brigade, they will have to attack those who snort at their bumbling antics.

    “How dare you laugh as Putin politically micturates in the face of our President?”

    Paul Krugman the soft handed bearded lady of the left will soon be talking about detecting dog whistles there too; unable to imagine that one could shrug at the consequences to a fascist of being upended by a more vigorous one of his own kind.

    Watch for it … and have another laugh.

  3. Looks like I left a word out of my description of Obama’s followers. “Leftist” should have preceded “lesbian dwarves”, since there is no necessary moral fault in a biological defect, or what might be a biological defect, per se; whereas “leftist” is like gigolo or a cackler, indicative of a moral defect per se. Since I cannot edit this and it’s been bothering me since I hit “post comment” this note will have to do.

    “Leftist” should have preceded “lesbian dwarves”, Does now, Ys

  4. Well, DNW, our laughter hurts: we don’t want to have to laugh at the President of the United States, because that means that he has failed our country and our interests, but there’s the rueful laughter with an “I told you so” mentality. All of us could see this coming! We might not have guessed the exact crisis that would have led to it — though both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin did — but we knew, all along, that Barack Hussein Obama was simply not up to the job.

    Furthermore, we all knew that the liberal attitude of playing nice and trying to be fair and respect everyone worked only with people having the same attitudes; when it came to the strongmen of the world, it was only a display of weakness, and one which would be quickly exploited.

  5. The truth of this situation is that it is about power. Vladimir Putin does what he wishes because he has the power to do so. Barack Obama and his minions whine about international law because they have nothing else.

  6. Frankly, I don’t know what we can do and I’m not sure of even what we should do. I’m not an interventionist nor am I an isolationist, but the Ukraine and Crimea have be befuddled. I feel like I’m playing chess with a real good player who just made a wild-assed move. I don’t understand what he’s doing or where he’s leading but I can feel it ain’t good.

  7. “Editor
    Tuesday, 18 March 2014 at 15:27

    Well, DNW, our laughter hurts: we don’t want to have to laugh at the President of the United States, because that means that he has failed our country and our interests, but there’s the rueful laughter with an “I told you so” mentality. All of us could see this coming! We might not have guessed the exact crisis that would have led to it — though both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin did — but we knew, all along, that Barack Hussein Obama was simply not up to the job.”

    Yes we all knew it was coming since we all through long and dismal interaction, know the minds and mentalities – such as they are – of the kollectivist kind.

    For example, I predicted:

    “If they cannot defend the performance of the floundering freaks of the Kollectivist Klown Brigade, they will have to attack those who snort at their bumbling antics. [with] “How dare you laugh as Putin politically micturates in the face of our President?” “

    No sooner said of course, than done. By none other than the Editor’s favorite pet kollectivist. As I also said: “Watch for it … and have another laugh.”

    However I do notice in regard to my own posting, and despite Yorkshire’s valued editorial assistance, a couple of remaining infelicities.

    For example: I characterized the president’s team – out to fundamentally transform historically free America into, as they admit, a fascistic regime of so-called “positive liberty” – as a “Kollectivist Klown Brigade”.

    It’s probably occurred to everyone that the term Kollectivist Klown Korps would provide a much more indicative and historically redolent terminology. Superficially ironic too; though all who have studied the principles of collectivism realize that at core the collectivist left and the collectivist so-called right are operating off of the same premise and only differ, when they do, in the population distribution of their anti-human freedom killing collectivist principle.

    Also, in recognizing how avid those supposedly in-the-know are when it comes to using acronyms such as “POTUS” for President of the United States, or “SCOTUS” Supreme Court of the United States , I should probably volunteer my terminology for the inventor of the fascist individual mandate and the shared individual responsibility provisions, for the same treatment.

    Fascist, as he perhaps unwittingly admits he is; “Dweeb” as he indubitably is, and “in Chief” as he unfortunately for our country and families, formally is, it would naturally render to: “Fascist D.I.C.” or Fascist D.I.C. POTUS, or some similar use.

    I think that this result should very much please those lefty enemies of liberty known as the Kollectivist Klown Korps; along with their Democrat hangers-on and fellow-travelers, since they are all demonstrably addicted to such scatological juvenilia.

  8. ” Hoagie
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 12:26

    Frankly, I don’t know what we can do and I’m not sure of even what we should do. I’m not an interventionist nor am I an isolationist, but the Ukraine and Crimea have be befuddled. I feel like I’m playing chess with a real good player who just made a wild-assed move. I don’t understand what he’s doing or where he’s leading but I can feel it ain’t good.”

    I agree with the current assessment.

    The point is not to be such a notoriously pathetic D.I.C. in the first place, that it encourages such behavior.

  9. We had our usual Wednesday morning breakfast meeting today, then we had our usual stops afterwards. On the way, we had Beck on the radio and the Rush intro. And with that, I said to my wife in very plain spoken words , if BO stays, we’re doomed. We don’t have the two and a half years.

    BTW, yesterday brought some hope in the special local election.

  10. From The New York Times:

    Ukraine to Pull All Its Forces From Crimea, Conceding Loss
    By David M Herszennhorn and Alan Cowell | March 19, 2014

    SEVASTOPOL, Crimea — Bowing to the reality of the Russian military occupation of Crimea a day after Russia announced it was annexing the disputed peninsula, the Ukrainian government said on Wednesday that it had drawn up plans to evacuate all of its military personnel and their families and was prepared to relocate as many as 25,000 of them to mainland Ukraine.

    Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and sailors have been trapped on military bases and other installations here for more than two weeks, surrounded by heavily armed Russian military forces and loosely organized local militia.

    While the provisional government in Kiev has insisted that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal and has appealed to international supporters for help, the evacuation announcement by the head of the national security council, Andriy Parubiy, effectively amounted to a surrender of Crimea, at least from a military standpoint.

    It came hours after militiamen, backed by Russian forces, seized the headquarters of the Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol and detained its commander.

    More at the link.

  11. BTW, did anyone catch Perry’s latest insanity — the morally relativistic hooey between the US and Russia/USSR? A piece of “evidence” that we’re “just as bad” as them: We annexed land from Mexico during the Mexican-American War.

    Comedy gold.

  12. Sorry Hube, but he’s become such a massively revolting anti-American fascist I can’t even bring myself to look any more. He’s one of the most shameful excuses for an American I’ve ever seen. You would figure by the time one gets to be his age he would have learned something but not this guy. He’s still got the brains of an inexperienced 16 year old on drugs.

  13. Hoagie
    Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 11:19

    Sorry Hube, but he’s become such a massively revolting anti-American fascist I can’t even bring myself to look any more. He’s one of the most shameful excuses for an American I’ve ever seen. You would figure by the time one gets to be his age he would have learned something but not this guy. He’s still got the brains of an inexperienced 16 year old on drugs.

    Hube has a point, just as I predicted, as do you.

    Here is a taste of what we all have been “missing”:

    “Let us also recall our own history re Mexico, wherein we used violent force on our border with Mexico to annex Mexican land which then became Texas and our other southwestern states.”

    I guess he forgot Texas was an independent republic and asked for admission into the Union; or does not care.

    And then, to add insult to injury, I am accused of making “articulate remarks”. Is there no end to this parade of injustices?

  14. Holy crap Mr. Editor, those crazy bastards at Delaware Liberal must all be off their meds. Please tell me what it is about being a leftist that makes them hate America and any American who disagrees with them so much. What causes them to seek any sin by America every time any issue is brought up? Do they actually believe we believe we’re perfect? Or do they actually believe that since we’re not perfect we can never be right?

  15. Hoagie
    Thursday, 20 March 2014 at 17:34

    Holy crap Mr. Editor, those crazy bastards at Delaware Liberal must all be off their meds. Please tell me what it is about being a leftist that makes them hate America and any American who disagrees with them so much. ”

    They’re collectivists. They hate anyone and anything that is not as tame and dependent as they are. And the sins they seek, as you phrase it, are often largely in their own imagination.

    For example, Perry and his supine pals seem to ignore the actual history of events along the southwest border; accounts which, even if gleaned from the largely antagonistic retelling on Wikipedia, mention payments made and payments proposed to an enemy [Mexico] defeated in open war by both the Texians and the Americans.

    “What causes them to seek any sin by America every time any issue is brought up? Do they actually believe we believe we’re perfect? Or do they actually believe that since we’re not perfect we can never be right?”

    They believe that those who live in freedom and confidence are enemies of those who choose, or are bred [through assortative mating] to, collective interdependency and a submissive male mentality.

    And again, we confront that same old paradox which one always confronts with this sub-moral relativist garbage: they complain out of one side of their puling mouths in terms of an appeal to an objective morality, the very notion of which they simperingly mock out of the other.

    After more than a decade of arguing with liberal males about rights, and morals and the concepts of reality, I have come to the point where my contempt for their minds and morals is so great that I can barely stand the sight of their impertinent sniveling pseudo-male faces which seem clearly to be a gene-linked somatic expression of their brain mal-functioning.

    Just ask one of these sensitively quivering-with-indignation leftist values nihilist twerps to his face what is wrong, really wrong, with him being killed; and see if he can come up with anything more than a sputtering tu quoque type “threat”, or a recourse to talk about objective rights and values which he has already negated as operating principles through other assertions he has made.

    Like I, and many others have asked: How do you live with people who demand from a relationship with you, against your interests and to your cost, that which you have no interest or desire in obtaining from them?

    What’s to be lost for example if Ted Rall and the Daily Kos editors literally started slicing each other up with knives? Answer: Nothing. How about Obama’s being humiliated by fellow totalitarian Putin? Answer: something more since when the Kollectivist Klown Korps leader, Obama the D.I.C. POTUS is humiliated, our own house is somewhat sullied. But it’s worth it. And if the rats do tear each other apart, those of us who are left can rebuild with better more rat proof foundations.

    We’ll see.

  16. LOL … it truly is amazing to read Perry’s and the DL moonbats’ comments about how “we can’t say anything to Russia since we’re just as bad.” Look, I’ll be the first to admit we’ve engaged in our fair share of questionable interventions; however, just like Perry’s asinine moral equivalence regarding Israel and the Palis, if you’re going to compare US interventions to communist ones, have the cojones to be intellectually honest instead of just going for “progressive” bona fides.

    To wit: Compare the US interventions in Germany and Japan post-WW II to the USSR’s in eastern Europe and elsewhere.

  17. Of course, we all know that the left aren’t really serious about what they say, to the extent of actually living their lives as they claim should be the case. I’ve met Perry, and he’s as white as they come, and I’d bet that there isn’t a single one of the Delaware Liberals who is as much of an Indian as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), yet all of them are living on land stolen from the Indians; why haven’t they given it back?

    Unlike the Delaware Liberals, I’m kind of glad we took Hawai’i; if we hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here! Of course, if white European settlers hadn’t come here and taken the Indians’ land, they wouldn’t be here, either.

  18. First of all we didn’t “take” the Indians land, we conquered it. Second, I can’t recall any piece of real estate on earth that hasn’t been conquered at one time or another, can you? Third, conquest is historically as legitimate as buying real estate. If not, the entire community of mankind has to start dishing out parcels of land all over the damn globe.

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