Saturday, February 21, 2015

The debacle in Debaltseve: more death and destruction and the debacle of Obama policy in Ukraine.

The heart of the on going conflict between Russian backed rebels, Ukraine and the U.S. and Europe  is this:  hot air from Obama, Merkle and Hollande against the super heated air from Putin's missiles, tanks and heavy artillery as the above image from Debaltseve showing Russian Grad missiles proves. Guess who's been winning? And a recent poll shows the Russian people give Putin an 86% approval rating. The sanctions are working, huh. 

The fake cease fire negotiated in Minsk which Obama had hoped would let him off the hook without having to do anything meaningful, didn't simply fall apart, it never was in the first place. It was as much a failure as Obama's policies of sanctions to stop Putin. And the failure of his policies in general in microcosm since they are all based on the same approach. 

Separtist rebels using Grad missilies, tanks, heavy artillery and troops sent by Putin never stopped firing on the town of Debaltseve even after the cease fire was supposed to take effect  and eventually rebels took the railway hub driving outgunned Ukrainian troops from the town. Ironically the battle after the cease fire  was the single bloodiest battle in the entire 10 month war.

Five days after the rebel capture of Debaltseve, the rebel offensive has   continued  against the strategic city of Mariupol and the village of  Kurakhovo . And Russian tanks and troops were seen as late as Friday,  continuing to cross the border into Ukraine to bolster the separatists 5 days after Moscow agreed to a cease fire in a conflict they claim they are not party to. 

It's clear Putin knows he has Obama and the West on their heels and back pedaling and is pressing for as much territory as Obama will allow which if history is any example would probably include Brooklyn except Putin would face a lot tougher opposition in Brooklyn than he would face with Obama.

Putin hasnt just been laughing in Obama's face for year  he keeps spitting in it. And Obama's response has been for the most part,  "does anybody have a tissue"? The best the Obama administration seems to be able to do in the face of Putin's military offensive even after a cease fire is Kerry calling it  " a land grab" and "completely unacceptable". Not just "unacceptable" mind you, but to show just how tough Obama is it's "completely unacceptable" which is more diplomatic-speak for 
" does anyone have a tissue"?

 Its become obvious to everyone that Putin's cease fire proposal had one aim -- to allow the rebels to take more Ukrainian territory by force and essentially say, " what are you going to do about it"? The U.S. and European answer  so far  has been "Nothing".

What was put out for domestic consumption is that Obama is "considering" sending defensive weapons to Ukraine. He could have just as easily used the word "fiddling over". 

The result is the  "stupid stuff " Obama continues to do based on  his organizing principle exposed by Hillary Clinton of " don't stupid stuff" . Which is why Netanyahu is concerned about Iran. 

It was Obama who oversaw and practically directed the surrender of Crimea to Russia because was afraid of a confrontation with Putin. Putin knew it and kept taking what he wanted. It was Obama who told the interim government in Kiev at the time  " don't do anything to provoke Putin" after Outin put 40,000 troops on the Russian -Ukraine border. Which led to the morale deflating images of the Ukrainian military surrendering to Russian backed rebels in Crimea . And gave Putin the go ahead to take more. Which he's been doing. 

 Obama's response to Putin's continued use of Russian weapons and troops to grab as much of Ukraine as he can has been " the sanctions are working" . This is the substitute for refusing to live up to the 1995 U.S.- Ukraine pact that guaranteed Ukraine's defense and sovereignty in return for giving up 2000 of their soviet made nuclear weapons. 

So Putin's Russian backed separatist forces, ignoring what everyone knew was a phony cease fire agreement in the first place, has continued to press the offensive to take even more of Ukraine's territory having no fear or concern over Obama's so far empty threat to send arms to Ukraine.

In something so laughable it sounded like a line from Dr. Strangelove, the Russians are also objecting to the presence of UN peace keepers to monitor the cease fire claiming that peace keeping would violate the terms of the cease fire. No response from the U.S. 

The debacle in Debaltseve and Ukraine in general is Obama's policies collapsing under the weight of his own weakness while he continues to look for ways to avoid standing up to Putin.  Which Putin knows and is what is really behind Obama's refusal to send much needed weapons to Ukraine. 

Obama and his advisors  still keep peddling the story that the sanctions are working. They are not working not even against Russian bus drivers, car salesman, office workers and cleaning ladies to whom they are targeted as Putin's 86% job approval rating shows . Obama has been attacking credit cards while the Putin backed rebels attack towns and cities killing thousands.

From the beginning Obama's response to Ukraine's request for weapons was to send them what a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine called " camping equipment". Obama's idea of " don't do stupid stuff". And the consequences are obvious. 

If Obama had any real decision making ability or grasp of effective policy he'd be sending arms to Ukraine right now. First as a message to Putin and the rebels that the party is over. And secondly, even if the cease fire manages to hold, the weapons Obama would send would be a deterrent to Putin  to start the war again by sending in more arms and troops. Facing equal military weapons against his own forces  is the only price Putin is not willing to pay since it would mean heavy Russian casualties and the destruction of military equipment. 

With the weapons they need and without Russian troops Ukraine would clearly defeat the rebels and were actually on the verge of doing so in Donetsk when Putin sent in reenforcents to stop it.

 If Ukraine had those weapons Kiev could demand that all territory taken by rebels after the cease fire be given back.  If not then armed with U.S. weapons Ukraine could go back on the offensive and retake the territory .

Instead  Obama, Hollande and Merkle offer the usual empty talk of appeasement characterized by false cliches like  "there is no military solution only a diplomatic one. "

When another country uses military force to take what doesn't belong to them, the only response is military. It's called national defense. 

 To say otherwise is appeasement. That voice was clearly evident when Merkle talked about the unacceptablity of Russia trying to take territory in eastern Ukraine that  "Ukraine considers  to be theirs" . Considers?  The way Germany considers that Berlin belongs  to Germany? Why is Merkle even suggesting that there is any controversy or real dispute over whose territory has been invaded and  is  being occupied by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine? 

The solution in Ukraine right now  has been and is a military one, which Obama and Merkle and Hollande are trying to avoid. The solution is to stand up to Putin arming the separatists who without Russia's troops and weapons would be militarily defeated. This is what makes Obama's excuse that giving the Ukrainian military weapons wouldnt do any good since  "they couldn't win a war with Russia".  Ukraine is at war with the rebels. There is no full scale war with Russia. And by saying Ukraine would lose a full scale war with Russia  is Obama signaling to Putin if he did launch a full scale war the U.S.  would do nothing? Maybe this is why Gdnerdl Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commader of NATO recently said the U.S. Is not doing enough to stand up to Putin. 

Ukraine does not have to defeat Russia. Putin would not officially invade Ukraine with Russian troops. Ukraine needs to defeat the rebels. So Obama's most recent rationale for not sending weapons is irrationale. 

One other false reason Obama gives for not sending weapons to Ukraine is that those weapons could fall into the hands of the rebels. Which shows there are people in the White House either not living on the planet earth or are so used to lying and getting away with it they will throw out anything they believe the news media will let them get away with which they almost always do.

The rebels don't  need American weapons. They are being supplied with all the tanks, heavy artillery and Grad missiles they want  by Russia. And it is both insulting and a lie to assume the Ukrainian  military would lose against the rebels when they were on the verge of defeating them even without U.S. weapons. 

It's the same argument Obama used against arming the moderate  Syrian rebels which led to the rise of Isis. 

While Obama and the West keep saying there is no military solution in Ukraine there is one person who thinks there is. Vladimir Putin. And until Obama and his so called advisors are ready to admit that and decide whether the U.S.  is going to stand up to it or be cowed by it and force Putin to back down Putin and the rebels will not stop.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Netanyahu: Fiddler On the White House Roof.

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is scheduled to address members of congress in March on the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner and its turned into the usual partisan type of bickering and oneupmanship with some Democrats trying to defend the indefensible which is Obama's policies or lack of which sorry to say, got them thrown out of congress in two elections. But getting lost in the breach of protocol are the real issues involved which is the nuclear negotiations with Iran and trying to get a deal on eliminating their ability to produce a nuclear warhead, negotiations which, for those keeping score, have already failed once before. 

The deadline for a deal that a lot of people besides Netanyahu think is leading to a bad one, came and went and another of Obama's red lines was skipped over. The deadline was extended to the end of March and that has everything to do with the timing of Bohener's invitation and Netanyahu's acceptance, not the Israeli election. 

Netanyahu's acceptance of the visit ruffled feathers in the White House because Bohener invited Netanyahu without first consulting the White House which he didn't have to do but which has generally been the protocol.  But it should also be seen for what it is -- not just a political poke in the eye to Obama, but a signal as to what a lot of people in and out of congress already feel about Obama's policy towards Iran.

Netanyahu's visit is understandable. Its purpose is to make clear his opposition to a negotiation many in congress also aren't happy with, and its also based on one other factor. Netanyahu doesn't trust Obama or his word and for good reason: throughout his presidency Obama has never lived up to his word on anything and in the Middle East poisoned  the well as an honest broker in terms of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations before he was even elected, a little fact most in the news media ignore because to report it is to criticize everything that's gone predictably wrong about Obama's presidency whether its foreign or domestic policy. Because there is a pattern. 

Obama as always negotiates from a position of weakness. The same weakness that led him to advise the interim government in Kiev when Russia was trying to seize control of Crimea to " do nothing that will provoke Putin", essentially telling Kiev to surrender.  Which they did and which led not only to the illegal strong armed annexation of Crimea but the wider war in eastern Ukraine.

When a bipartisan group of senators wanted to pass a bill that did nothing more than tell  Iran that if there was no deal the sanctions that were lifted would be reimposed and more sanctions would be levied,  Obama opposed it and gave as a reason that such a bill  would cause Iran to walk away from the negotiations.

That is weakness. Why should Obama be afraid Iran will walk away if its in Iran's interest to make a deal and if they are telling the truth that they have no nuclear warhead ambitions?   On the surface it seems simple. The sanctions are there because of Iran's nuclear program which presently has the capacity for producing nuclear warheads. Iran says their desire is only to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. If so they should have no trouble agreeing to the dismantling of their heavy water reactors which have no other  purpose than to produce weapons grade uranium. Heavy water reactors are not needed to refine uranium to produce medical isotopes and other peaceful forms of energy which Iran claims is their only nuclear ambition. 

Why doesn't Obama take the position that it is in Iran's best interests to make a deal if they want to see the sanctions lifted, and make that deal on the West's terms not Iran's and based on Iran's own assertions?  It is  Iran that wants the U.S. sanctions  lifted. It is Iran that was caught lying before about their nuclear program. 

Yet it's been Obama who is afraid that if an additional sanctions bill passed, Iran would walk away when it is Iran who should be afraid the U.S. is prepared to walk away and sanctions reimposed. 

Netanyahu knows this. He also knows as almost all Democratic voters know who have been burned by Obama's reneging on promises before that Obama's word on anything is worthless and cant be trusted. This isn't rhetoric. It's  a well documented and provable fact that only the sycophants on the Tea Party Left web sites and some Democrats ignore. Kiev knows it only too well. So do civilians and the moderate rebels in Syria. So did voters who believed Obama and the Democrats would make good on their promise of a public health care option only to see  it dropped in an Obama concession to health insurance companies and the Obamacare substitute fall on its face. And concessions is exactly what concerns Netanyahu and most members of congress. 

Obama destroyed  his own credibility in the middle east before he was even elected. It was in June 2008, as  a candidate for president that Obama gave a speech in front of 7,000 Jews at AIPAC - the American Israeli Political Action Committee in Washington D.C. that forever destroyed any chance he had  as a force in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The motive behind Obama's speech was political.  Florida was the most important swing state in the country and Democrats still had memories of hanging chads and a specious and contested 500 vote margin and Supreme Court interference  that gave the presidency to George W. Bush.

Florida figured to be a key state in the 2008 election. And Florida has a significant Jewish population. So Obama gave a speech at AIPAC attended by 7,000 Jews and in that speech made a significant announcement -- that  he supported a unified Jerusalem, one Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. This is a universally shared view by Jews and supporters of Israel but a shocking statement from a presidential candidate who might one day have to be involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
But the statement had the immediate effect Obama intended - a standing ovation from the 7,000 Jews present and ostensibily from Jewish voters in Florida and around the country.

The statement revealed how  truly incompetent, politically motivated, self centered and unqualified  for the presidency Obama was and that his personal political priorities came first regardless of consequences. 

Jerusalem was and still is the most contentious issue regarding negotiations for a Palestinian state in any Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.  Every negotiator since negotiations began decades ago, had gotten both parties to agree to make the final status of Jerusalem the last thing on the agenda. It was always the hope of  U.S. negotiators that if they could get the two sides to agree on everything else, each side would be more likely to come to some change in position regarding Jerusalem rather than see everything else achieved go down the drain. 

Even if you do support a single unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel as it is now and reject  Palestinian demands that East Jersualem be their capitol,  if you are a principle in the negotiations and are supposed to be an honest and objective broker, you don't say it. Because its up to the parties to decide whats in their own best interests. Which is not to say Israel would ever agree to partion Jerusalem -- Ehud Barak had offered to partion part of East Jerusalem for the capitol of a Palestinian state in 2000 and Arafat rejected it and launched the Infitada. Its unlikely any Israeli prime minister will ever offer it again and the Palestinians will have to live with their decisions, something Arafat on his death bed said he regretted.

But Obama's public statement as a candidate took Jerusalem right off the table  in return for a five minute politically motivated standing ovation. And the Palestinian reaction was predictable. They went beserk.

Within 24 hours the entire Arab world issued statements condemning Obama for his statement about Jerusalem.

This time it was Obama who reacted predictably. He reneged and backtracked on his statement backing a unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. Within 24 hours of the Palestinian backlash Obama put out a preposterous and  laughable statement that the whole world misunderstood him, that when he said he supported a single unified Jerusalem he meant "a Jerusalem with no barbed wire." No kidding. That's what he said. Despite the fact that there has been no barbed wire in Jerusalem since the Israelis' recaptured it in the  1967 war.

Obama's immediate reversal  naturally infuriated the Israelis who realized then that Obama's word on anything was worthless and he couldn't be trusted. And the Palestinians didn't trust him either.

If Obama accomplished anything with that speech it was to actually unify the Israelis and Palestinians in their mutual contempt for him. A contempt that continues to this day and is the single biggest reason Obama has been the most ineffective U.S. president in history in dealing with Israeli-Palestinians negotiations.

No one trusts him. And Netanyahu certainly doesn't trust him on Iran.  Obama's failure to arm moderate Syrian rebels which led to the rise of Isis and a crisis situation and his handling of Ukraine which led to the annexation of Crimea and all the death and destruction in eastern Ukraine that followed only re-enforces Netanyahu's lack of trust.

This is the context and backdrop of not just Israeli skepticism about any deal with Iran led by Obama, but also by most in the U.S. congress including many Democrats though because of  blind partisanship some Democrats feel the need to defend Obama and talk of boycotting Netanyahu's speech,  something as mindless in their defense of Obama as the far right's mindless attacks.

The tune Netanyahu is playing  is a simple one: Obama can't be trusted. And history proves it repeatedly.

In 1995 after the fall of the Soviet Union,  the U.S. signed a pact with Ukraine where we told Ukraine that if you give up your 2000 nuclear weapons we will guarantee your sovereignty and defense. Obama from the beginning has refused to honor that pact and commitment and has looked for any way out, something that wasn't exactly unnoticed by  Putin. Netanyahu sees that too. And knows no deal that Obama makes with Iran is going to be a good one. Or one that anyone could count on Obama to enforce.

The negotuations as they stand now are not going well for the U.S. Iran has been bragging recently that the sanctions have done nothing to deter their nuclear ambitions  (sound familiar?) They bragged that  they had 200 nuclear reactors before the sanctions and and now they have 20,000.   That sounds like a much bigger poke in Obama's eye than Netanyahu making a speech in front of congress. 

Iran is playing as if they are holding all the cards. And Obama is  playing the same way  and keeps talking about not doing anything that will upset them and cause them to walk away ( just like he told the interim government in Kiev not to do anything that might upset Putin while he was annexing Crimea).

This is why Netanyahu is going to give his speech despite Obama's displeasure, and the superficial pouting of some Democrats who say they won't attend.  And the tune Netanyahu will  be playing will be to convince members of congress, most of whom don't  really need convincing that it is Obama and his negotiations with Iran, who is  really doing the fiddling.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Obama position on Ukraine mostly fetal.

"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.