I don’t expect the Crimean crisis to turn into a major disaster, but I can easily imagine how it might do that. All that has to happen is for Putin to be the worst of Putin and Obama to be the typical Obama.
The worst of Putin would be a Russian invasion of the Ukraine. There is a precedent for this in the war in Georgia. The worst-Putin scenario involves a major Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine or maybe all of that nation.
The first half of the worst-Obama scenario is already in the can.
We 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.
That is from the President’s address on the issue today. Notice what it leaves out? No mention of American interests. Is the President really interested? What would a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” represent?
It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violence 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.
You have to admire that phrase “there will be costs”. What is the subject of that proposition? What costs are alluded to? No clue. If you look up feckless in a picture dictionary, you might find a picture of the President giving this speech.
Unfortunately, there is precedent for this. Mr. Obama spent years dithering about the war in Syria and then, without noticing what he was doing, drew a red line over chemical weapons. When it became clear that the Assad had crossed that line, he tried to back pedal. At that point someone in his inner circle convinced him that he was going all Jimmy Carter and looking like a coward and he panicked. He decided that military intervention was necessary to save his face and asked Congress for permission to do something manly.
At that point Putin intervened and a deal was struck. We wouldn’t intervene militarily, which we weren’t going to do anyway, and the Syrian regime would hand over its chemical weapons, which it isn’t going to do either. Such is foreign policy under Barack Obama.
So what happens if Mr. Putin invades the Ukraine? Probably nothing. Obama spouts a lot of pious fluffdoodle and Mr. Putin does what he wants. Yet that will remind the world and the electorate in the U.S. that our President is less substantial than a piece of toast soaking up lukewarm coffee. What if the President panics again? He might decide to order U.S. warships into the Black Sea, just to show that he is not what he in fact is.
I don’t think that this scenario is likely. I think it is entirely possible because we have at the national helm an empty suit. Putin has figured this out. He may want to get all he can get just now, before someone competent replaces the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Russian Parliament has approved the use of force in the Ukraine. I do not see this as significant in itself. Russian forces are already in the Crimea and they are moving about. How far they move is what matters.
I doubt very much whether Putin needs the approval of Parliament to do anything he damn well pleases, let alone that there was any chance he wouldn't get what he asked for. What was this about? He is rubbing our President's face in his own wee wee. This, Mr. Putin is saying, is how a real man handles a legislature.