"We have a profound interest in promoting a core principle -- that large countries do not bully small countries". President Obama,January 23. 20015.
Given all the strife, killing and destruction initiated by Russia from their strong armed violent illegal annexation of Crimea to their invasion of eastern Ukraine with Russian tanks, missiles and thousands of Russian troops which has killed thousands and destroyed lives and Ukrainian cities and towns in Putin's attempt to take over and absorb eastern Ukraine, and considering it's global implications, it is hard to imagine a more trite, trivial, juvenile , immature and embarrassing statement of foreign policy over a major crisis from a U. S. president. So much for soaring rhetoric. Which soars about as much as a paper plane. Which is about the same level of military aid Obama has sent to Ukraine.
On Saturday rebel shells killed 30 more civilians including 2 children and the once modern airport in Donetsk is a shambles. Obama's response was that he"condemned the killing" once again reaching into the politicians handbook of trite, trivial, meaningless political cliches which no doubt sent Putin into paroxysms of remorse.
To date Obama's offer of help to the Ukrainian government against Russian military aggression has been, in the words of a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, nothing more than"camping equipment". While Putin sends in tanks, troops, and anti-aircraft missiles, one of which shot down a civilian airliner over Ukraine killing 186, Obama counters by sending the Ukrainian military Meals Ready to Eat, no doubt to be used to throw at Russian tanks.
Obama's position on Ukraine as it was with Syria and arming the moderate rebels has been an embarrassment to U.S. values and foreign policy, but more than that, has been spectacularly ineffective and led to catastrophe and the killing of thousands in Ukraine and tens of thousand more in Syria as a result of ignoring the advice of his former Secretary of State and three Secretaries of Defense who all quit over his refusal to take what we now know was the best advice.
Since Putin's initial incursion into Crimea and the illegal annexation, Obama's position has been largely fetal. When separatists and rebels, many of them members of the Russian military and intelligence services, took over Crimea, beating, torturing and killing any who opposed them, Obama's specific direction to the interim Ukrainian government in Kiev at the time was to "avoid bloodshed at all costs" ( something Putin and the rebels were not willing to do) and " do nothing to provoke Putin" who had massed 40,000 Russian troops on the Ukraine border to intimidate Obama. Which worked. This led to the images the world saw of the Ukrainian military surrendering without a fight. It was, in effect, Obama surrendering to Putin. With the ensuing consequences.
Obama's lack of will, moral conviction or resolve to stand up to Putin reached such lows during the annexation of Crimea, that the usually sycophantic CNN actually did a segment on whether Putin had "bullied" Obama.
And this failure to stand up to Putin not only led to the annexation of Crimea it has led to all the bloodshed and killing that followed, with Putin knowing there would be no consequences he would care about coming from the United States. That emboldened him further to step up his invasion of Ukraine in the east.
Obama has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of backbone to stand up to Putin and Putin knows it. Whether it was backing off his "Red Line" in Syria over chemical weapons under pressure from Putin or backing down in Crimea and virtually instructing the interim government in Kiev to surrender, Putin was willing to test Obama's lack of resolve in the east and in every instance saw Obama back down when and where it counted.
Obama continues to say that " sanctions are working" against Russia when everyone other than the average American journalist knows they are not.
The sanctions are having an effect on Russia's economy and hurting the average Russian citizen, but are having no affect on Putin who is not an average Russian citizen and who by the way is worth about $6 billion. The sanctions are a complete failure in what they were intended to do -- stop Putin from sending Russian troops and military equipment to support the rebels in eastern Ukraine who without it would have been crushed by the Ukrainian military a long time ago.
Instead of countering and giving the Ukrainian military what it has repeatedly asked for and needed to stand up to the Russian aggression and support of the rebels, Obama has insisted on following his own core principle as exposed by Hillary Clinton of " don't do stupid stuff". Which has led Obama to doing nothing but stupid stuff. And leaves Obama continuing to waffle on what to do in Ukraine even though that has been clear for a long time with members of congress from both parties telling Obama what it is -- arm the Ukrainian military so they have what the means to do what Obama has so far been unable to do -- stand up to Putin and his policy of Russian military aggression in eastern Ukraine.
John Kerry's trip to Kiev and his speech was the language of appeasement and the defensive, underscoring Obama's posture. He said this was not a confrontation between East and West, that they were not looking for a confrontation with Russia that "no one is" and again making the same whiney statements about wanting a diplomatic solution, all the while as Putin sends in more tanks and troops than he has in the past and more people die and Putin gets bolder. Kerry's announcement of $16 million in aid to the Ukrainian government, a pittance -- about what it costs the tax payers for Obama to fly to a plant in Dubuque and make false claims about the rebound of the econonmy (see the AP report on Obama's false statements and accounting tricks) --was offering the government of Ukraine a pacifier.
Kerry then gave a speech in Kiev consisting of the words, " all we are asking of Russia ..".
Asking? After all this military aggression from Putin and violating their own Minsk agreement, sending tanks, troops and other heavy weapons into Ukraine, Obama is asking? Kerry then went on to ask that Russia withdraw heavy weapons, withdraw troops, stop aiding the rebels and close the border. And what do they expect Putin's response is going to be? "Gee, why didnt you ask me in the first place"?
Obama is still wary of sending arms to Ukraine, because, according to reports, he is worried about how Russia would react and whether Putin would escalate. Obviously Putin has not been worried about how Obama was going to react or if Obama and the West would escalate
The other argument is that sending arms to Ukraine would not be enough to defeat Russia, as if that is the issue. Obama has done this before trying to defend his inaction on Syria by saying " what we did was not invade Syria" as if anyone ever suggested that we do when what was recommended was to arm the Syrian rebels, something Obama refused to do then which fueled the rise of Isis. It is a virtual impossiblity that Putin would order a full scale invasion of Ukraine when they have been denying any involvement since it started. And it would be unpopular with Russian citizens. And all Obama is doing by not sending weapons is signaling to Putin that if he did invade, the U.S. would do nothing.
Months ago when Russia first began the annexation of Crimea and Putin sent in troops under the guise of "protecting Russian speaking people", it was pointed out both here and by Hillary Clinton that Hitler used the same rationale and tactic for invading the Sudetenland claiming it was to protect the rights of German speaking people. Clinton's comments were mocked by ignorant journalists with headlines blaring, "Clinton compares Putin to Hitler", which she did not, but pointed out a historical truth and reality that was ignored and has continued to prove accurate. Had Obama and western Europe taken a stand in Crimea there would not now be a Russian led war going on in eastern Ukraine. And as if learning nothing from history, the U.S. France, Britain and Germany, did not act and are are now facing a bigger problem which will get worse unless they finally draw a line in the sand and act -- which is nothing more and nothing less than sending lethal military aid to Ukraine to combat the lethal weapons Russia has sent.
If you want to know who the appeasers are, listen to those who say, "there is no military solution in eastern Ukraine". Those are people looking for any excuse possible, any way out of taking the action necessary to end the conflict. Because there certainly is a military solution in Ukraine. Just ask Putin. The solution is to defeat the rebels and separatists militarily as Ukraine was on the verge of doing last summer when Putin sent in more weapons and troops to stop it. When the rebels who have tried to steal eastern Ukraine for Putin are defeated, that will be the solution and Ukraine can regain control of that part of their country.
The West has got to realize they are not going to outthink Putin and they are not going to outsmart Putin. All they can do is stand up to Putin and make the costs of continuing more than Putin is willing to pay. On his terms not theirs.
But for now ,instead of action we get another core principle from the commander of core principles which is "big countries shouldn't bully small countries". But what Obama leaves out is what every parent and every kid in every schoolyard in the country already knows : the way to stop a bully is to stand up to him.