February 20, 2014

"Yet Obama seems so fixated on [the 'reset' of relations with Russia] that he will not risk annoying Putin by voicing full-throated support for the Ukrainian protesters."

Says George Will, noting that:
Putin’s contempt for Barack Obama is palpable. Russia’s robust support of Bashar al-Assad is one reason Assad has, according to the Obama administration’s director of intelligence, “strengthened” his position in the period since Obama said Assad should “step aside.” Russia has been less than helpful regarding U.S. attempts to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Where, exactly, has Obama’s much-advertised but never defined “reset” of relations with Russia been fruitful?
And here's the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. should want to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit as a matter of human dignity and strategic interest. A Europe-leaning Ukraine can join the company of free nations and fulfill the aspirations of its people. A Ukraine tilted toward the corrupt authoritarian regimes allied with Moscow will be a source of regional unrest at best, and part of a revived Russian empire if Mr. Putin has his way.

With his studied detachment from foreign affairs, Mr. Obama has shown zero interest in this strategic confrontation.... Mr. Obama may want to retreat from the world, but the world won't retreat from America.
Meanwhile, Obama is doing that "line" thing again:
"[W]e’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters... We've also said we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful, and... there will be consequences if people step over the line."
As noted in my earlier post this morning, it appears that the protesters broke the truce and restarted the violence, so what are the consequences?

59 comments:

Rumpletweezer said...

Temperamentally unsuited for the Presidency.

Seeing Red said...

P'owned by the bear. The Russian fleet can visit Cuba. We r back to the 70s disgusting.

Beta Rube said...

If the protestors want Obama to bring the full weight of the Federal government onto their side, they should claim that Yanukovych is a Tea Partier, opposes Gay marriage, and doesn't much care about global warming.

Otherwise, don't hold your breath.

LawGuy5000 said...

I don't know if Prof. Althouse is practicing knee-jerk anti-protesterism from living too many years in Madison, but she is coming across as quite the reactionary, and ill-informed regarding

SOJO said...

Did everyone see the vid of the grandmother and grandfather coming to the rescue of the protestor who was being beaten by the police? Hard to not sympathize with the protesters after watching that.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Worst President ever?

mccullough said...

What would Hillary do?

LawGuy5000 said...

I don't know if Prof. Althouse is practicing knee-jerk anti-protesterism from living too many years in Madison, but she is coming across as quite the reactionary, and ill-informed regarding Ukrainian politics.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Here are the same old voices calling for the US to "do something!" We need to stay the hell out of this sutuation and Obama needs to keep his trap shut and not draw any Stupid lines.

There are zero US interest at stake in Ukraine andthis is a messy internal fight. There are no giod guys. The govt are crooks and have stolen the country blind. The masked men who broke the truce are fascists.

Most Ukrainians (Ukrainian or Russian speaking) don't like either side. They were the ones In the square chanting "we need leaders!" The masses withdrew once the violence started.

mccullough said...

We haven't had a strong foreign policy since HW was president and Baker the SoS. Something to consider when thinking about who should be the next president.

Jay said...

Putin got the 2am phone call.

He's still laughing at the naive waif in the Oval Office.

jr565 said...

Acting all milquetoasty and obsequious and polite comes across like ass kissing. Whatever you care to say about Putin I don't think he responds well to weaklings.
Obama thought he could reset foreign policy by making our enemies like us. Only he did so at the expense of many our allies. He snubbed them to try to get in with the new clique.
They don't like us. They may like is as weaklings since that means they can walk all over is and not have to worry about our response, but that doesn't amount to a friendship.

Joe said...

I agree with Bill; I don't see a win anywhere in this situation or with Syria. Seems to me that doing something will cause more legitimate problems than not doing anything.

The Cracker Emcee said...

It's Russia's backyard, always has been and always will be. It's silly to pretend that Obama or any other American president can or should try to influence events there.

traditionalguy said...

It seems that Obama and his advisors want the Muslim Jihad to succeed at disrupting the middle east into chaos so badly that issues of Russian hegemony are irrelevant to them. A Russian interest would be a plus when the long planned UN take over is finally needed to save the Muslims.

Obama may need to send Putin some of his stockpiled sniper ammo so the Ukranians civilians must fight Russian snipers in a replay of 1943 Stalingrad.

Jay said...

Citing upheaval & bloodshed in Venezuela & Ukraine, President Obama again says US "strongly condemns" [the] "unacceptable violence" there.

Feel better?

jr565 said...

Bill. Republic of Texas wrote:

"Here are the same old voices calling for the US to "do something!" We need to stay the hell out of this sutuation and Obama needs to keep his trap shut and not draw any Stupid lines"

I don't know that we need to do something in the Ukraine, but why is there this idea that only we are not allowed to do something when it comes to other countries? Russia is doing something in Syria for example that is beneficial to Russia, and the ruling power in Syria. And are strengthening themselves while diminishing our influence for doing so.
We got zinged for getting involved in Vietnam. But even if we weren't it didn't stop communists from outside Vietnam getting involved in Vietnam.
So sometimes you wonder whether the push for US neutrality , and ONLY US neutrality isn't actually in furtherance of an agenda that leads to the strengthening of one of our enemies.
Of we want the US to be neutral then our enemies must be neutral in all foreign affairs. If they meddle in other countries then we similarly should do so to further our interests.

madAsHell said...

Putin has had his boot up Obama's ass since Syria.
Obama is damaged goods.

chrisnavin.com said...

There's still a lot of isolationism across the fruited plain.

The U.S. & Europe really benefit from a Western allied Ukraine. We want an Eastern Europe united more under the Eurocracy than the echoes of the recent past.

We have next to no leverage, here, and Putin is basically trying to bribe and beat Ukraine back into the fold, but it's time for Americans to start playing chess again.

It may just cost someone a job, or their childrens' lives.

As for Obama, Dear God. Such a mix of inexperience, naive idealism, and arrogance I've rarely seen.

Doug said...

Beta Rube at 10:07 - that's GOLD, Jerry, GOLD!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Jr

Of course we need diplomacy. But bullshit chest thumping is not helping. What consequences can Obama bring? Economic sanctions? That us exactly what Putin wants. Military support? Not our interest to have our young men die in Ukraine.

The EU screwed up when they insisted on austerity and cutting pensions and utilities assistance. While EU was preaching pain. Putin was offering money and cheap gas.

Big Mike said...

Meanwhile, Obama is doing that "line" thing again: ...

Guys doesn't learn from his mistakes, does he?

Mark O said...

Can someone here tell me what, exactly, is the Obama foreign policy?

jr565 said...

"The EU screwed up when they insisted on austerity and cutting pensions and utilities assistance. While EU was preaching pain. Putin was offering money and cheap gas."
Venezuala was giving us gas because we were supposedly suffering and not pushing austerity in his own country. And look at Venezuela now.
We should have looked at "gift"
And recognize it as a furtherance of Venezuela's interest in diminishing the US and reject the gift.

As far as what Obama could do. Where does
He have leverage? Use that leverage to get some concessions out of Russia. Or at least attempt to behind the scenes.

If foreign policy is poker then you never win if you fold every time. Or if you never call someone's
Bluff. Or make bluffs of your own.
Because we are so reluctant to use our power countries that don't have out
Power tend to get swelled heads and strut around as
If they do. Sometimes they need to be put back in their place.
It doesn't mean war, but a skilled diplomat could play hardball with Russia and get out of the situation with a deal that favors us more than Russia, or even better actually diminishes Russia.
I realize that Obama is not that guy. But I don't have a lot of faith on the argument that there is no such guy or
That we're not supposed to play.

jr565 said...

That wasnt me saying we need to
Get involved in Ukranian politics (though I do seem to remember us selling some of those countries a
Missile shield which really pissed off Russia
At the time). Only that I find the isolationism pushed by some on the far left and far right to be even weaker than Obamas already weak foreign policy.

jr565 said...

Russia's goal is ultimately our diminishment along with their ascendance.
Our goal therefore should be the same but for our ascendency at the expense of theirs.
It doesn't mean we need to go to war with Russia. But
Certainly we shouldn't be naive in thinking that ceding ground to Russia while getting nothing in return doesn't diminish us and strengthen them.
Reagan already spanked the USSR into dissolution. Putins Russia is no USSSR. And yet we are afraid to deal with Russia head on? Why? We're not a
98 pound weakling on the world stage despite some trying to make us so.

Hagar said...

I think Putin's dealings with Iran and the Assad regime may well come back to bite him in the ass.

As for Obama's statements about the Ukraine - if you don't have anything to say, STFU!

JRoberts said...

Professor, I've read this excellent post twice, but can't find any mention of microagression or same-sex marriage. It's mid-day and you may miss your daily quota.

Cedarford said...

The days of the Neocons are over. The US did a pretty bad job of assessing the "noble democratic souls of those fellers" and then helping install assholes like Karzai and Malaki under Bush....Who turned out to be anything but US allies.
Then the senile moron McCain was photo'd with some "Freedom LOving Rebel Syrians" old Johnny wanted us to send money and weapons to....until people researched them and found they were Islamist terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Whoops! Somebody in Arizona run against him before he gets lucky and convinces Obama to start a new war.

damikesc said...

It's silly to pretend that Obama or any other American president can or should try to influence events there.

...yet he tries to do so.

Doesn't speak well of him.

duntov283 said...

Russians believe Obama is a weak man. I know this from talking with them. They think a strong American president would have stood up to Putin over Syria. Obama backed down.

Russians know that Obama will not stand up for freedom in Ukraine. Obama lacks the courage to do this. Obama is removing the missiles that protect eastern European countries from Russia. He is doing this on purpose, almost like he wants Russia to again become Soviet Union.

Russians look at America and wonder why the people are letting the Obama make America a socialist country. This is hard to understand. Does Obama hate America? Is he planning to become dictator? Does it not seem that way?

The American people who have affection for socialism, they have never had to live under socialism. Socialism is not some romantic notion, it is horrible, horrible. The only people happy under socialism are the politicians who can make rules that exempt them from most of socialism. It was this way in Soviet Union, it is becoming this way in America.

Russians wonder, Americans, what is wrong with you that want this?

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Humperdink said...

In response to Obambi's chest thumping, Putin should send our fearless leader a new bicycle helmet. Maybe lavender in color.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Of course we could have influence in Ukraine. Almost all Ukrainians want stable democracy, honest police and judiciary, non-corrupt politicians and welcoming environment for international investment. That is why they look to Europe.

So Europe offered them austerity and trade restrictions on a take it or leave it basis. It would have been a huge black eye to Putin to get an FSU country in the EU economic sphere. Obama wasn't interested at the time or he wouldn't let Merkel be the lead. Germany is not interested in enlarging Europe with more economic basket cases that may need bailing out in a few years.

The policy has collapsed and NOW the interventionists, including Obama, are beating their chests. What a joke.

Anglelyne said...

Seeing Red: P'owned by the bear. The Russian fleet can visit Cuba. We r back to the 70s disgusting.

No, we're not. It's not the 1970s.

WSJ: The U.S. should want to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit as a matter of human dignity and strategic interest. A Europe-leaning Ukraine can join the company of free nations and fulfill the aspirations of its people.

I have no idea if the majority of Ukranians would unequivocally prefer to be subsumed in the "prison of nations" to the East or the "prison of nations" to the West. There are serious downsides to both. At any rate the economic inducements offered by latter are not as shiny as they were a decade ago, and, just like many citizens of the West, a lot of people are probably put off by the globo-fanaticism and non-stop culture-war-bullying of Western officialdom.

It sucks to be the little guy stuck between two powers, neither of which has any respect for local control or national sovereignty. But I do know crass propaganda from Will the Shill and the WSJ when I see it.

William said...

There's nothing he can or should do except voice his disapproval....Do you think it's possible that he could prick the conscience of the world? In the 20th century, the Soviet Union inflicted famines and mass murder on the peoples of the Ukraine. These huge piles of corpses went under the ground without ever being mourned, dramatized, or even noticed by western intellectuals......What is it about Ukrainians that make them so much less deserving of sympathy than gays in Russian?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Then the senile moron McCain was photo'd with some "Freedom LOving Rebel Syrians" old Johnny wanted us to send money and weapons to....until people researched them and found they were Islamist terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Cedarford :

McCain just did the exact same thing in Kiev. He dined with the leader of Svoboda when he visited Ukraine.

Svoboda is the fascist party. They are the protesters in masks and The ones who broke the truce. Look for the black flags, lightning bolts and 88 symbols. That is Svoboda. That is who the US is supporting.

Anglelyne said...

chrisnavin.com: There's still a lot of isolationism across the fruited plain.

Isolationism: a distaste for un-informed messianism, and a preference that one's government avoid ill-thought out foreign adventures that are not in the national interest.

(Hey, anyway, shouldn't we be intervening some more across the Middle East before turning to Europe? I hear there are still some ancient Christian communities in the Middle East. Last few rounds of "promoting freedom" got rid of a lot of 'em but not all. Let's finish the job. That was the plan, right?)

Mike said...

In celebrity-worshipping America the masses may side with Klitschko who, in his day, made most of his fortune fighting Americans or Mexicans who happened to be in America. He has a PHD and thinks like a chess master because he is one. He has the name and the guts to lead his people. We should as Americans be on the side of free people fighting against oppressors, whether there is "strategic interest" or not. What counts is the IDEA of support, encouraging words, actions that assist, informing the public. These are things a real "leader" would do but that Barry doesn't care about or think about because they don't help him get over on Republicans.

People are fighting to break free of Russia's grip and we should appreciate that for how hard it is and what it would mean to bring another country into the community of free and modern societies.

gerry said...

Ever hear of the Holodomor?

It was a nice socialist program imposed by worker-paradise Russia designed to destroy small landholders in the Ukraine. It endeared many Ukrainians to Mother Russia and Uncle Joe Stalin, and, especially, the New York Times and its mendacious Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Walter Duranty. His shameless lies abetted hiding the carnage.

The Ukrainian government has even petitioned The Pulitzer Committee to revoke Duranty's award.

The USSR's attempt to ethinically cleanse the Ukraine may have soemthing to do with the excitement there.

MayBee said...

I wonder if Obama swooners feel stupid for thinking that reset button was cool.

David said...

"it appears that the protesters broke the truce and restarted the violence, so what are the consequences?"

None of them will be invited to the balcony during the next State of the Union.

David said...

LawGuy5000 said...
I don't know if Prof. Althouse is practicing knee-jerk anti-protesterism from living too many years in Madison, but she is coming across as quite the reactionary, and ill-informed regarding Ukrainian politics.


I too am ill informed as to Ukrainian politics. That puts me in a near 100% majority. Can you supply references to reliable sources for information.?

Unknown said...

Bill (ROT), Mark O et al.

You guys have missed the "Obama Doctrine" --

Red lines and green lights

MPH said...

The country was on verge of approving a free trade deal with the EU before Putin stepped in and ruined it at the 11th hour by way of a series of threats against the current administration. This has nothing to do with democracy. Freedom is the fundamental; democracy supports freedom, but it doesn't create it.

Lydia said...

there will be consequences if people step over the line

They must be rolling on the floor with laughter in Kiev.

SteveR said...

What difference, at this point, does it make?

Humperdink said...

Obambi may need to bring back the color-coded terror alert system except this time for utilization against miscreant foreign leaders.

To review:

> Severe (red): severe risk
> High (orange): high risk
> Elevated (yellow): significant risk
> Guarded (blue): general risk
> Low (green): low risk

New system for Obama's warning lines:

> Red line: drone heading your way
> Orange line: Hillary heading your way
> Yellow line: no foreign aid for you
> Blue line: keep it up and it will be dinner with Michelle
> Green line: beer summit!

LawGuy5000 said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25182823

The BBC coverage has been pretty good, and a lot clearer than the NYT coverage Prof. Althouse mocks and uses as justification for her reactionary stance.

chrisnavin.com said...

Angelyne,

'Isolationism: a distaste for un-informed messianism, and a preference that one's government avoid ill-thought out foreign adventures that are not in the national interest.'

What did I say that was messianic, or supportive of messiahs?

Ukraine is in our long-term and strategic interest, how much is up for debate. No one's talking about foreign adventures. We have little to no leverage with them, comically little. The EU is a mash of disparate and competing interests united in Eurocracy. But as part of a larger picture of Western interests hanging together, especially in the face of Putin's visions of empire and thuggery, this could end up being quite strategically important.

Yes, I see a pretty sad State of American diplomacy between Obama's leadership, neocon failures, and the noises from those on Right like McCain.

But we have got to start putting pieces in play as part of a larger, more realist strategy.

Curious George said...

"there will be consequences if people step over the line"

Those fuckers had better watch out or they'll get the same fate as the Benghazi terrorists.

Crazy Jane said...

French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy contributed an op-ed column to the Wall Street Journal today. It bewails the "grim masquerade" of Russia hosting the Olympics while Putin's "valet Viktor Yukanovych" orders the killing of peaceful protesters in Kiev.
Levy wants Western democracies to pull their athletes out of Sochi, or, failing that, at least to boycott the closing ceremonies.
Such action would embarrass the Russians and convey disgust with Putin's behavior in Syria, Chechenya, Georgia and now Ukraine.
For all his talk of "consequences," Obama most likely be too timid to support even this simple move. But it would be something.

chrisnavin.com said...

Crazy Jane:

I wouldn't be surprised if Henri-Levy's work with Libyan locals under Gadhafi didn't help to weigh the scales in favor of 'kinetic military action.' He certainly pushed for it

He's the voice of a kind of neo-neo-colonialism, or French reinvigoration of a tired French Left.

Perhaps he whispered into Obama's ear.

Anglelyne said...

chrisnavin.com: But as part of a larger picture of Western interests hanging together...

But what does that even mean, when "the West" all seems to be under the control of the likes of the very same crazy Obama-ites, crazy McCains, crazy neo-cons, and the crazy "Eurocracy" that you mention? Does anybody in power in the West seem to give a crap about "Western interests" defined as "the interests of the peoples of the West"?

chrisnavin.com said...

Angelyne,

I think you may be asking a deeper question about the people in power answering to the people they serve.

Here are my interests:

I have more in common with other Westphalian States, The Eurozone, but mostly the people in the Constitutional Republic with a functioning representative democracy in which I live.

We citizens have rule of law, a fairly representative gov't, relative political stability and economic opportunity for the time being. We have a rich military tradition, superior technological weaponry and organized violence, the English language, the Sciences, Arts & Lit, a rich tradition of irony and relative freedoms, Christian metaphysics and relatively liberal institutions. We were born out of the Enlightenment.
------

Putin is a post-Communist, ex KGB thug trying to keep a vision of Soviet and/or Russian empire going. He's got real demographic and strategic challenges going on inside and out, from low birth rates to oligarchs to Muslims to the Chinese. If he rules by suppressing people, bribing others, and threatening the rest, he'll do it.

So yes, me, you, our fellow citizens, some Frenchman, some Italians, the Eurocrats some Canadians etc, have a relative and common strategic interest in preventing Ukraine from becoming part of that empire and vision of it.

So, now what do me and you do?

Suggest a reckless military campaign? Look at pictures and try and feel something?

Not necessarily.

We scribble on blogs and debate. Our elected officials work within their incentives and limitations, to get reelected and occasionally risk themselves on some principle.

Ignorance is the rule.

Meanwhile, our President foolishly separates diplomacy from force and the military, aiming for what I think is a naive and wishy-washy vision of peace which relies heavily on Left of Center idealism and poorly designed international institutions.

So, you and me, we at least think what it is we ought to do, and could do, and pay some mild attention.

We have that duty, no?

Freeman Hunt said...

Obama's not a full-throated kinda guy.

furious_a said...

Where, exactly, has Obama’s much-advertised but never defined “reset” of relations with Russia been fruitful?

Well, rumor has it that Hillary! accidentally sat on the RESET button and it's been stuck there (don't ask) ever since.

furious_a said...

Why aren't Code Pink and the Occutards and ISM in Kiev acting as human shields for the Maidaners the way they flocked to Baghdad for Saddam or Gaza for Hamas?

furious_a said...

What is it about Ukrainians that make them so much less deserving of sympathy than gays in Russian?

They don't run any Hollywood studios?