John Bolton

John Bolton

Saturday, March 01, 2014

With Invasion of Crimea Putin Shows Obama What a "Red Line" Really Means

Is this what Obama meant when he said he wanted to improve relations with Russia?

As news continues to pour in, one thing is clear: The Russians have seized the Crimea, a part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Thousands of heavily armed troops wearing uniforms without any identification but in vehicles with Russian license plates have surrounded key buildings and facilities. The Crimea is just several hundred miles from Sochi, site of the recently concluded Winter Olympics.

Despite the autonomous region's long held insistence on remaining part of Ukraine, the Russian's took advantage of the overthrow of Ukraine's government last weekend to move in. The gameplan for the invasion is slightly modified from that which saw Russia seize South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia in 2008. Create a disturbance then send in troops to assure safety of Russians. How convenient.

Following the Russian snatch in 2008 the Bush Administration acted swiftly to forge closer ties with Poland as a bulwark against further Russian expansion. Secretary of State Rice signed a defense cooperation agreement with Poland, similar to an earlier agreement with the Czech Republic. A key component was the siting of missile defense systems in the two countries.

Obama's Weakness Invites Russian Aggression. Again.

The invasion of Georgia occurred during the final months of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. McCain issued a strong statement which urged action to counter the Russian aggression. Obama said:"now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full scale war." It was the first sign of many that Obama would be a weak and indecisive leader.

At the time of the Georgia invasion many of us understood the necessity of taking strong action and not simply issuing vague statements. At Mike's America I concluded that the world should care about this aggression because:
MIKE's AMERICA: "If Russia knows, as it clearly does, that a divided NATO and a worthless U.N. will not stand up to such naked aggression, than they can and will do the same and worse again. If you don't care about that now. You will when a larger war breaks out!"
Sarah Palin was even more prescient. In 2008 she warned:
SARAH PALIN: After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next.
Palin was ridiculed by the so-called smart people in the foreign policy establishment. Who's laughing now? On her Facebook page Palin was happy to say "Yes, I could see this one from Alaska," a reference to the Tina Fey sketch on Saturday Night Live where Fey's Palin said "I can see Russia from my house." Too bad we don't have a leader in the White House who understands these situations as well as Palin.

Recall also that upon taking office Obama canceled the missile defense treaties with Poland and the Czech Republic giving both countries grave concern about Obama's understanding of the gravity of issues at stake. During the 2012 presidential debates Obama mocked Romney for suggesting Russia was a threat:

OBAMA: "the Cold War has been over for 20 years."

Obama scrapped the treaty with Poland and the Czechs and sought to "reset" relations with Russia which had strained after the Russian invasion of Georgia. The famous gaffe in which Sec. of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart with a button that said "overcharge" in Russian is just one example of the kind of empty symbolic gestures for which the Obama Administration is famous. Hillary might as well have presented the Russians with a green light to do whatever they want. 

We got no help from the Russians on other important issues like Iran in exchange for tossing our friends the Czechs and Poles overboard. The Russians simply took Obama's actions as a sign of weakness and went on to the next confrontation such as Syria where the Russians continue to shield Syria which is not destroying it's chemical weapons as required. Remember that was Obama's last "red line" and nothing happened!

In a lame attempt to show seriousness on the invasion of Crimea Obama made a statement on Friday:
OBAMA: [W]e are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.
Oh gee. That's got to scare Putin straight right? No recalling our Ambassador. No freezing of assets in U.S. banks. No sending the Navy to patrol the Black Sea. Not even a call for the U.N. Security Council to condemn the action. Basically nothing but empty words. Obama's speciality.

And just to show how seriously Obama takes the matter he immediately left the White House following the delivery of his statement and headed over to a Democrat National Committee for a campaign fundraiser where he declared it's "officially happy hour."

"This is now officially happy hour with the Democratic party.
“I can do that. It is an executive action. I have the authority.”

You can bet Russia's Putin saw the above clip too. Imagine the media outcry if George W. Bush had done anything similar. But this is Obama and no one seems to care.

The people of Ukraine DO care. Take a moment to watch this video of a young Ukrainian woman telling her story. It's gone viral on You Tube with over seven million views:

"We want to be free."

If the United States stands by and does nothing but issue meaningless statements then the world will do nothing. If nothing is done the signal will go out again that aggression is an acceptable means to achieve national goals. Thank Obama for that!

UPDATE: Obama skips National Security meeting. No word on whether he went golfing or played basketball. But if he wanted to demonstrate how serious this situation is he would have attended. Obviously he doesn't care and Putin and bad guys around the world know it!

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