Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ukraine's best strategy for success against Russia: Ignore Obama.

Whether you're a Democrat running for re-election, or the Ukrainian government trying to deal with the current crisis caused by Russia, the surest way to fail, as has been proven time and time again, is to follow or take direction  from president Obama on anything.

Two years ago, while Libyan rebels were fighting to overthrow Ghadaffi, Obama continuously waffled over whether to help the rebels militarily because in the end he really didn't want to act at all.

His indecisiveness and refusal to act, a product of a 16 year political career in which he had accomplished virtually nothing and even voted "present" more than 100 times as a legislator  to avoid having to vote for or against anything, became so irritating to France and the UK that they finally decided on their own  to send fighter jets into Libya to assist the rebels and attack Ghadaffi's forces which in the end, proved decisive.

How much France and the UK were fed up with Obama's indecisiveness and inaction with Libya  lies in the fact that when they finally decided to take action on their own and send in their fighter jets they didn't even bother to tell Obama. He found out only after the fact.

When then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in London for what she thought was going to be one more round of talks on Libya, she was informed for the first time,  with news cameras rolling,  that French and British fighter jets were already in Libya supporting the rebels. Anyone who has seen the news footage of that moment saw Clinton's face light up like a Christmas tree showing her delight that France and Great Britain took the lead and decided to actually do something.

This is a lesson the Ukrainian government needs to learn. 

Obama is about avoiding any kind of action or conflict under any circumstances for any reason, foreign or domestic. Principle and conviction never influence an Obama decision.  It's why he gave in to the corporate health insurance lobby and dropped the public option and pushed through their version of health care reform which became Obamacare with all it's predictable resulting failures. Obama thought since this was a solution  created by corporate America it would get the Republicans off his back on healthcare , the effectiveness of the policy aside.  He was wrong on all counts, politically and as a matter of policy.It's why he waffled on Libya. Its why he backed off his own "red line" pledge on chemical weapons in Syria. It's always about politics, not principle.

If Obama couldn't stand up to health insurance lobbyists does anyone think he could stand up to Putin? And does anyone think Putin doesn't know it?

Obama talks as if the 1994 U.S. defense agreement with Ukraine, where the U.S. guaranteed Ukraine's defense in exchange for giving up its Soviet nuclear stockpile,  doesn't even exist. A "high White House official" said they had no plans to send any kind of military assistance, material or otherwise to Ukraine because " if we do that then its our fight and we don't want that".

Of course they don't. And Putin knows it thanks to Obama  inexplicably saying publicly that military assistance to Ukraine was off the table. This was both indefensibly stupid but also unnecessary and just made matters worse,  an assessment echoed by former American ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker who said that Obama's public statements about taking military action off the table, even if it had been privately decided,  did nothing but embolden Putin.

As for the so called  "non-lethal aid" Obama promised to Ukraine, that too has been mocked, this time  by former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, William Courtney, who in a TV interview called the aid Obama agreed to send to the Ukrainian military "aid that amounts to camping equipment".

The Ukrainian government must keep in mind  that every decision Obama makes is about what's best for Obama politically and his desire to avoid any conflict with any opposition whether it's health care, Wall Street, Republicans, or Putin.  The term throwing someone or something under the bus was coined to describe how Obama conducts himself both in terms of policy and politics. And what gets thrown under the bus are usually those he was supposed to support. He has shown repeatedly throughout his political life that he no leadership skills and the last thing he wants is to have to deal with an attack on Ukraine  by Russia  or to take the kind of firm action or statement of policy that would prevent it.

The news media continues to report that Ukraine has held back because they don't want to risk provoking Putin giving him an excuse to invade. There is not a word of truth in that.  It isn't Ukraine who is afraid of provoking Putin. It's Obama. And the position it would put him in if Russia attacked. It's been the White House that's been telling the Ukrainian government not to do anything that would  give Putin an excuse to invade. Because it's Obama who doesn't want to have to decide what to do in that eventuality. 

So U.S. officials continue to advise the Ukrainian government to constantly back down. For their own purposes.  And so far the Ukrainian government has mistakenly gone along. And it's only made matters worse. One can decide for themselves what might have happened if Ukraine had used military force in the beginning against the armed Russian insurgents who invaded and took over buildings and TV stations and employed Gestapo  tactics. If Putin knew he was going to face a show of force there might not now be 40,000 Russian troops on the border.

In an interview on CNN  Geoffrey Pyatt the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine insulted everyone's intelligence by trying to claim that it's the Ukrainian government who only requested "non-lethal aid" for it's military. When government officials lie about a policy it's usually because they know the policy is weak. The claim was officially proved bogus when a Ukrainian government official said on Meet the Press that they had in fact requested real military equipment from the United States not water purifiers and MRE's.

Two weeks ago I speculated here that after watching the Ukrainian military constantly back down both in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, including the humiliating surrender of arms and armored vehicles to the Russian terrorists by members of the Ukrainian military, that those acts had Obama's fingerprints all over them. It had all the earmarks of  Obama wanting to avoid a confrontation.

That speculation was confirmed by former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Wesley Clarke who recently returned from Ukraine and said on CNN April 17 that the Ukrainian government issued those orders to their military as the result of "guidance" they had received to "not provoke" and to "avoid bloodshed at all costs" and to do nothing that could  provoke a Russian invasion.

Clark didn't say where the "guidance" was coming from but he didn't have to. It wasn't Dear Abby or Dr.Phil. 

The continued cliched response from the White House is "there is no military solution to the crisis". It's a mantra they keep repeating as if that bails them out of the responsibilities of the 1994 agreement. But the issue of 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's border, the issue of Putin having already sent in what amounts to shock troops inside Ukraine to seize government buildings,and that it was Russian troops that annexed Crimea by force, has nothing to do with a military solution to the crisis. It's not about long term solutions now. For Ukraine,  for the U.S. and for Europe it's about Ukraine's right of self defense. The legitimate right of any sovereign nation to militarily defend itself against an armed foreign invasion by a country trying to take it over. 

In eastern Ukraine polls show an overwhelming majority of their citizens do not support the masked Russian thugs, agents and terrorists posing as Ukrainians holding the buildings, nor do they want to be part of Russia. For the Ukrainian government whose first responsibility is defending the country and it's citizens, successful self defense lies in ignoring Obama's "guidance".  And then taking whatever action they feel is necessary against the Russian terrorists to restore order and to defend themselves. And let the Russians know that and let Putin know his plan isn't going to work . 

They should make clear they are not going to allow the undercover Russian invasion that has already taken place to continue and that it is up Putin to pull his forces or face the consequences if he doesn't. And that no amount of lies by Lavrov will change that. In other words, forget Obama and meet tough words with tough words of their own. 

Russia has warned Ukraine it would invade if it's "interests" in Ukraine were  threatened.  Lavrov proved he and Putin have been lying when he said "if we are attacked we will have no choice but to respond". But they can't be attacked, can they? According to Lavrov and Putin there are no Russians in those buildings in Ukraine. So they can't he attacked.  Ukraine should remind them of that then answer back bluntly and clearly that Russia has no "interests" in Ukraine, that Ukraine is a sovereign nation and no part of Russia and none of their  business and warn Russia that any invasion of their territory will be treated as such requiring a military response. 

The Ukrainian government should take the steps it needs now to defend it's people and exert it's right to defend itself. And say so. And as was the case with Libya, they should count on other countries to come to their aid if it's needed. Because they will. Even if Obama, as with Libya and Syria, wastes time continuing to mull what to do.

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