Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Obama's weakness encourages aggression and may lead to war.

The United States and the rest of the world is sitting by and watching Russian expansion and doing nothing about it.  This is reminiscent of Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland. The Sudetenland was part of Czechoslovakia, adjoined Germany, and most of the inhabitants spoke German and it was probably true that most of the inhabitants wanted to join Germany.  I do not think Putin is the next Hitler but the process of expansion is similar. I doubt what is done can be undone in Crimea. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, then Russia will keep Crimea. No military force is going to organize to push Russia out of Crimea.

If anyone thinks Putin is going to be content with Crimea, I think they are mistaken.  Putin has said the break up of the Soviet Union was the biggest disaster of the 20th century. I think it is his desire to reconstitute the old Soviet Union and maybe the Eastern Block. I doubt there will be a revival of Communism as the ideology behind the reestablishment of Russian hegemony but simple imperialism. 

What should be the lessons learned from this turn of events? 

1. Don't trust the United States. In return for giving up its nuclear weapons the territorial integrity of  Ukraine was guaranteed by the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom. We made this pledge  signing the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.  
2. Don't disarm. At the end of the cold war, Ukraine had 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads. They sent them to Russia for dismantling. If Ukraine still had those nuclear weapons, it is doubtful Russia would have invaded the Ukraine. 
3. Weakness encourages aggression. Shortly after getting elected, Obama went on his apology tour and promised a gentler United States that would lead from behind. Time and time again the U.S under Obama's leadership has shown lack of resolve and weakness. In Syria we drew a "red line" on the use of chemical weapons, Syria used chemical weapons and we did nothing about it. I am not convinced we should have gotten involved in Syria because it appears that many of the opponents of the Syrian regime were no better than the government. However, we should not draw red lines and then do nothing when they are crossed. We should not threaten unless we intent to carry out the threat.

In Benghazi the representative of the United States was murdered in a terrorist attack, we did nothing to prevent it, nothing about it after it occurred, covered up that it was a terrorist attack and then our Secretary of State responded to a congressional inquiry by asking, "why does it matter?" who committed the attack.

President Obama has shown further weakness by proposing a military budget that will reduce America's military to the smallest it has been since before World War II.   The U.S. is now perceived in the world as an ally not to be trusted and a weak toothless paper tiger.

I do not want to go to war over Crimea. We may have to accept Russian's annexation as a fact while refusing to officially recognize the fact.  We should not, however, allow further dismantling and annexation of Ukraine. If Ukraine falls, other countries formerly part of the Soviet Union or Eastern Block may be next. So far our response has been piddling. I don't think we are causing Putin to loose any sleep. A handful of individuals will have their assets in the U.S. frozen, if they have assets in the U.S., and they will be denied the right to visit the U.S. That is about it! Big deal! We should do more, much more.

I am not a foreign policy expert but in this informed citizens view, we should immediately send aid to the Ukraine, included military assistance, we should announce we will be resuming building the cancelled missile defense system in Eastern Europe, we should announce an amended military budget capable of building up a military capable of defending our interest and honoring our commitments and deterring aggression. The President should go on national TV and address the Nation as to the seriousness of the Russian threat. We should sent warship to the Black Sea and Mediterranean. We should put Ukraine on a fast track to NATO membership. We should encourage Europe to put Ukraine on a fast tract to EU membership. We should announce the immediate decision to build the Keystone pipeline, to become energy independent and to become an exporter of oil and natural gas. Thirty percent of the oil for western Europe comes from Russia.  If Russia cuts off the supply to any country, we should do the equivalent of a Berlin air lift and expedite delivery of energy to countries denied Russian oil.

What is happening in the Ukraine does not happen in a vacuum. Iran and North Korea are watching. Japan is no doubt nervous and wondering if it should go nuclear. China, with desire to annex disputed territory and expand its sphere of influence is no doubt paying close attention. I do not think the U.S can be the worlds policeman.  I don't think we can solve every conflict and or get between every warring party. I don't think we can successfully engage in nation-building of nations that do not have the prerequisites to become democratic.  However, we must remain engaged in the world. As the worlds most powerful country, we have a responsibility to try to preserve peace in the world.  Our disengagement leads to power vacuums and conflict. We should defend and protect our national interest and honor our commitments.  We should not make commitments we can't honor. As the inspiration and model for much of the world and an exceptional nation blessed with liberty, we should stand with those fighting for justice and freedom even if we can't do the fighting for them.

President Obama's weakness is making the world a much less safe place. We are emboldening our adversaries and that may lead to war.

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