War Makes For Good Headlines

Fred Hiatt is really pining for war, and the WaPo editorial board has decided, in a lengthy piece, that Obama is living in a fantasy world. Nowhere in the piece, of course, are any specific suggestions for what he should do.

Here is a nice antidote to that nonsense:

In the days since Vladimir Putin sent Russian troops into the Crimea, it has been amateur hour back in Washington.

I don’t mean Barack Obama. He’s doing pretty much everything he can, with what are a very limited set of policy options at his disposal. No, I’m talking about the people who won’t stop weighing in on Obama’s lack of “action” in the Ukraine. Indeed, the sea of foreign policy punditry – already shark-infested – has reached new lows in fear-mongering, exaggerated doom-saying and a stunning inability to place global events in any rational historical context.

***

Personality-driven Analysis

Let’s start here with Julia Ioffe of the New Republic, a popular former reporter in Moscow who now tells us that Putin has sent troops into Crimea “because he can. That’s it, that’s all you need to know”. It’s as if things like regional interests, spheres of influence, geopolitics, coercive diplomacy and the potential loss of a key ally in Kiev (as well as miscalculation) are alien concepts for Russian leaders.

Overstated Rhetoric Shorn of Political Context

David Kramer, president of Freedom House, hit the ball out of the park on this front when he hyperbolically declared that Obama’s response to Putin’s actions “will define his two terms in office” and “the future of U.S. standing in the world”.

Honorable mention goes to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group for calling this crisis “the most seismic geopolitical events since 9/11”. Putting aside the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Arab Spring, Syria’s civil war and tensions in the South China Sea, Bremmer might have a point.

Unhelpful Policy Recommendations

Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander of Nato, deserves a shout-out for calling on Nato to send maritime forces into the Black Sea, among other inflammatory steps. No danger of miscalculation or unnecessary provocation there. No, none at all.

Inappropriate Historical Analogies

So many to choose from here, but when you compare seizing Crimea to the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, as Leonid Bershidsky did at Bloomberg View, you pretty much blow away the competition.

Making It All About Us

As in practically every international crisis, the pundit class seems able to view events solely through the prism of US actions, which best explains Edward Luce in the Financial Times writing that Obama needs to convince Putin “he will not be outfoxed”, or Scott Wilson at the Washington Post intimating that this is all a result of America pulling back from military adventurism. Shocking as it may seem, sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the US did or did not bomb.

Missing from this “analysis” about how Obama should respond is why Obama should respond. After all, the US has few strategic interests in the former Soviet Union and little ability to affect Russian decision-making.

Read the whole thing.

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202 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Moar bully pulpit!

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    Have I said again recently how glad I am to have Commander Cuckoo-Bananas and his merry band of half-wits out of office?

  3. 3
    Cassidy says:

    Moar leader leaderin’.

  4. 4
    flukebucket says:

    Every day I am happy that Obama sits in that chair. I have no idea what he will do and there are times he does not do what I wish he would have done but I rest easy knowing that at least he has a god damn brain and uses it while at the same time paying no attention at all to the chattering fools surrounding him.

  5. 5
    Hill Dweller says:

    Fresh off calling for more sanctions for Iran, which would end ongoing negotiations for a larger agreement on their nuclear aspirations, Sen. Coons went to AIPAC and said Putin invaded Ukraine because Obama was too weak in Syria.

  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:

    Okay, this is a larf over in the right-hand column:

    Trump: Obama May Overplay Hand in Ukraine

    Because if there’s anyone I want in charge of foreign policy, it’s a guy who couldn’t figure out how to make money running a ca$ino.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    If W. we’re still in charge, we would have invaded Uruguay by now.

  8. 8

    I learned how to make everything that happens, ever, confirm my worldview by using this one weird old trick. Click to find out!

  9. 9
    max says:

    Let’s start here with Julia Ioffe of the New Republic, a popular former reporter in Moscow who now tells us that Putin has sent troops into Crimea “because he can. That’s it, that’s all you need to know”.

    Aww. She’s OK, she’s just, like what? 29, hates Putin and has lost her mind, likely temporarily. (See: Cole, John) Well. either that or she’s going to turn into Mini-Jen Rubin. Probably not. Hope not, anyways.

    Anyways, that’s the zeitgeist at TNR: ‘The Magazine for Nice, NPR-Listening Liberals Who Want to Kill as Many Foreigners As Possible’.

    max
    [‘Subscribe now and get this totebag AND! a free glossy 8×10 portrait of a dead foreigner! All for for just 19.99$!’]

  10. 10
    catclub says:

    The knife attackers in China did not get any love in today’s news.

  11. 11
    catclub says:

    @ranchandsyrup: I larfed.

  12. 12
    Chris says:

    As in practically every international crisis, the pundit class seems able to view events solely through the prism of US actions, which best explains Edward Luce in the Financial Times writing that Obama needs to convince Putin “he will not be outfoxed”, or Scott Wilson at the Washington Post intimating that this is all a result of America pulling back from military adventurism. Shocking as it may seem, sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the US did or did not bomb.

    QFT. Speaking as someone whose field of study is IR, that is probably my single biggest pet peeve with the American conversation on anything foreign policy related.

    As Krugman pointed out in “Conscience Of A Liberal,” this is what comes from being a superpower: Canadians don’t wonder why their government is unable to bend world affairs to their will. But for Americans, whenever something happens that isn’t exactly what we would’ve wanted, anywhere in the world, it’s another Munich. Not all Americans feel this way, but most of those with microphones seem to.

  13. 13
    MomSense says:

    @flukebucket:

    Every day I am happy that Obama sits in that chair.

    Same here. When the pundits criticize how aloof and professorial he is, I translate that as calm and level headed in a crisis. This is another quality that I appreciate and like to see in the person who sits in that chair.

  14. 14
    Botsplainer says:

    Reagan quaveringly told Gorbachev to get off his lawn in his old man voice, and it happened a couple of years later in response to a massive economic crisis that ravaged the entire eastern bloc.

    So there’s precedent to old cranky white guys getting what they want, according to them.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    This ‘thinking’ business. It’s just sooo hard.

  16. 16
    mdblanche says:

    The lesson from World War I is that you should never be too eager to go to war. But the lesson from World War II is that you should never be too hesitant to go to war. Sometimes all you can do is hope whoever’s in charge of reconciling all the historical analogies with each other has good instincts.

    As for sending forces into the Black Sea, does James Stavridis propose following the Montreux Convention (which as an admiral and a former NATO Supreme Commander I would hope he’s familiar with) and only send a force large enough to do nothing but annoy the Russians, or does he propose breaking the Convention to really enrage them?

  17. 17
    Judge Crater says:

    What total bull shit. David Ignatius, in an article linked to just after the Editorial Board screed, actually makes some sense.

    It’s Putin who has lost his marbles. Russia, by almost any measure aside from having nuclear weapons, is a paper tiger. Putin just spent at least $ 50 billion dollars to show the kinder, gentler Russia. And now he embarks on a nutty Pax Russiana mission in Crimea and the Ukraine?

    He did too many vodka shooters in Sochi. Send him to rehab.

  18. 18
    flukebucket says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Here is another one

    JD Hayworth on Ukraine Crisis: Newsmax TV Now

    Who in the ever living, loving hell could possibly give a damn what J.D. Hayworth thinks about anything? I can remember when he was a two bit sportscaster in Greenville, SC. My how he has fallen.

  19. 19
    Tractarian says:

    Read the whole thing.

    You mean that wasn’t the whole thing?

  20. 20
    aimai says:

    @max: This is frighteningly good:

    Anyways, that’s the zeitgeist at TNR: ‘The Magazine for Nice, NPR-Listening Liberals Who Want to Kill as Many Foreigners As Possible’.

  21. 21

    This story is the Village’s wet dream. It lets them pretend they’re back in the 80s – no, better, 1979. The Soviet Union is scary and everyone is about to see that liberals just don’t know how to govern and only a cowboy can keep us safe and bring down the Evil Empire and make them feel mature and responsible for hating blacks and poor people. Any minute now America will realize that it all FITS and Obama is Jimmy Carter and Romney will retroactively win the 2012 election.

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    Here’s another goodie from the article:

    Which brings us to perhaps the most bizarre element of watching the Crimean situation unfold through a US-centric lens: the iron-clad certainty of the pundit class that Putin is winning and Obama is losing. The exact opposite is true. Putin has initiated a conflict that will, quite obviously, result in greater diplomatic and political isolation as well as the potential for economic sanction. He’s compounded his loss of a key ally in Kiev by further enflaming Ukrainian nationalism, and his provocations could have a cascading effect in Europe by pushing countries that rely on Russia’s natural gas exports to look elsewhere for their energy needs. Putin is the leader of a country with a weak military, an under-performing economy and a host of social, environmental and health-related challenges. Seizing the Crimea will only make the problems facing Russia that much greater.

    Funnily enough, in a similar situation ten years ago, the same media saw Bush as “winning” in the Iraq War, and quite a few still do, despite the fact that it ended up bleeding the U.S. dry with zero gain (there were neither WMDs nor al-Qaeda members to destroy, though al-Qaeda members showed up soon enough) and resulted ultimately in a government at least as well disposed towards Iran as towards the U.S.

    But hey, in this punditocracy, if you’re rolling tanks down somebody else’s streets, you’re winning. The tough guy image is what matters. Not whether you achieve your objectives, not whether the war puts you in a stronger position than previously. It’s just about posturing.

  23. 23
    Botsplainer says:

    @mdblanche:

    But the lesson from World War II is that you should never be too hesitant to go to war.

    When Hitler devoured the Sudentenland, the UK was really unready. Munich bought time.

  24. 24
    catclub says:

    @MomSense: McCain in 2008 just wanted more wars. Romney would be led by the nose by Netanyahu. Two giant bullets dodged. And that is not even looking at domestic policy.

  25. 25
    RaflW says:

    Missing from this “analysis” about how Obama should respond is why Obama should respond.

    If you are a neocon or a Republican, you have to respond, or you have to admit your dick isn’t the biggest one in the locker room.
    That, unfortunately, is the right-wing’s foreign “policy” in a nutsac.

  26. 26
    Bex says:

    @Mnemosyne: And Rmoney not in it.

  27. 27
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    I keep hearing Ukraine is half a world away but it’s a little closer than Iraq and a lot closer than Afghanistan.

  28. 28
    Belafon says:

    @Chris:

    Shocking as it may seem, sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the US did or did not bomb.

    Thanks for catching that. This is also exactly why the “moral authority” argument is bogus. Whether or not the US, or nearly every country that has owned a boat in the last 300 years, has invaded some other country, Russia will respond to statements from Obama and other leaders if it’s in its interest to do so. Now, very much like Syria, it will be much more plausible if the other countries in the world make it known that the threats are real. But none of that has anything to do with “moral authority.”

  29. 29
    kindness says:

    Right wingers hate the government and will do everything they can to wreck it when they don’t run it.

    When they run it? Oh then it’s all different.

  30. 30
    catclub says:

    @Judge Crater: “Pax Russiana” Irony alert!

    Also, Russian markets drop over 10% in one day. Likely more to come. Rouble falling 10% and costing Russia to try to prop it up. That never works, Bulwinkle.

  31. 31

    @flukebucket: Ole JD was trying to do sports talk radio in San Diego for spell recently. He was awful and got shitcanned.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    With apologies to Bob Dylan:

    It’s a hard Ukraine gonna fall.

  33. 33
    catclub says:

    @Hill Dweller: “Fresh off calling for more sanctions for Iran,”

    And what nation needs to cooperate with us to maintain sanctions on Iran? Russia.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    Nowhere in the piece, of course, are any specific suggestions for what he should do.

    Four words: capital gains tax cut.

  35. 35
    Daffodil's Mom says:

    John, Two blogs you might appreciate are http://www.moonofalabama.org/ (which looks like Billmon’s old joint bc I think they are still friends — he just had a bunch of Billmon tweets on Ukraine the other day; and http://vineyardsaker.blogspot......of-us.html a brilliant and fascinating man offering a brilliant, fascinating and detailed analysis of what is really happening.

  36. 36
    mdblanche says:

    @Hill Dweller: Oh FFS. Is it too late to put that witch in the Senate instead?

    @catclub: McCain has never met a war he didn’t like. Whenever the next just war finally rolls around will be his stopped clock moment.

  37. 37
    Cacti says:

    Speaking of living in a fantasy world, remember when the neocon editorial board of the Warmonger Post wrote 27 different op-eds on why Iraq had to be invaded?

    Listening to their advice on foreign policy would be like going to a sports seminar called: “Tips on Winning the Big Game” by Tony Romo.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @kindness:

    It is?

    Seems to me they work doubly hard to wreck it when it’s theirs.

  39. 39
    Citizen_X says:

    Obama needs to convince Putin “he will not be outfoxed”

    Invade Botswana! That’ll show him.

  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:

    The Washington Post keeps reminding me that I need to cancel our subscription.

    Part of me would like to keep a digital sub, because it’s important to support newspapers and the WaPost publishes the occasional piece of actual journalism that serves the community.

    Fred Hiatt and his crew, though?

    At least with a blind pig you MIGHT get a truffle every now and then ….

  41. 41
    NotMax says:

    @Citizen_X

    Retake the Philippines!

  42. 42
    Citizen_X says:

    @Judge Crater:

    Russia, by almost any measure aside from having nuclear weapons, is a paper tiger.

    Pretty big aside there, sparky.

  43. 43
    Chris says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    This story is the Village’s wet dream. It lets them pretend they’re back in the 80s – no, better, 1979. The Soviet Union is scary and everyone is about to see that liberals just don’t know how to govern and only a cowboy can keep us safe and bring down the Evil Empire and make them feel mature and responsible for hating blacks and poor people. Any minute now America will realize that it all FITS and Obama is Jimmy Carter and Romney will retroactively win the 2012 election.

    I think a lot of their foreign policy also comes from being high on their version of eighties history. The version where Reagan stood firm, rebuilt the military, engaged in rollback, challenged them to an arms race and said “tear down this wall!” and that’s what caused the USSR to fold like a lawn chair. Not that they didn’t already believe that a president looking like Clint Eastwood’s “do ya feel lucky?” routine is all it took, but the Reagan story made them feel vindicated and unfortunately it’s pretty much the accepted version of history, at least within American borders.

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Baud:

    If W. we’re still in charge, we would have invaded Uruguay California by now.

    FTFY.

  45. 45
    Hungry Joe says:

    Obama has to respond so that the wingers and the Village can wail about how whatever response he made was wrong and (mix and match): naive, weak, dangerous, executive overreach. Until he does something, of course, they can criticize him for having done nothing.

  46. 46
    Rob in CT says:

    I’m really happy McCain isn’t president, and this guy is:

    http://www.bloombergview.com/a.....unning-out

    Sure, the article is about Israel (hey, it’s Jeff Goldberg), but it touches on Iran, Syria and just generally about the DO SOMETHING urge. It’s worth a read.

  47. 47
    Elizabelle says:

    Just put this up on their troll-ridden comments thread:

    Dear Fred Hiatt’s Editorial Board:

    Please stop reminding me why I need to cancel our subscription.

    You are the fantasists who continue to employ Jennifer Rubin and George Will.

    Katharine Graham should come back and kick your asterisks.

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Because if there’s anyone I want in charge of foreign policy, it’s a guy who couldn’t figure out how to make money running a ca$ino.

    That’s right and as Trump himself tries to spin things, he hasn’t filed personal bankruptcy, just some of his businesses have filed for bankruptcy (but multiple times…).

    IIRC, his shuttle airline also went bust.

  49. 49
    Tommy says:

    Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander of Nato, deserves a shout-out for calling on Nato to send maritime forces into the Black Sea, among other inflammatory steps. No danger of miscalculation or unnecessary provocation there. No, none at all.

    Yeah, nothing wrong could happen there. None. Nothing.

  50. 50

    The less stupid Cohen of NYT has an op-ed with a similar message.

  51. 51
    danimal says:

    I am the anti-pundit. For now, my advice is simple: Don’t just do something, sit there.

    There is nothing wrong with calmly evaluating facts, developing a strong plan of action, get allies on the same page and then take action. Let McCain’s blood pressure gauge explode; it won’t hurt anything in the real world.

  52. 52
    Gene108 says:

    I think we should invade Canada just to show Puny Putin, who is still boss?

    Uraguay? Philippines? Come on guys, have you already forgotten Canada’s looting of Washington, DC and putting the White House to the torch?

    We have a debt to settle.

  53. 53
    Amir Khalid says:

    I haven’t figured out myself what America (or the world community) should do, beyond avoiding any military intervention when it doesn’t really know whom it would be fighting, for or against. I do understand that much of what is to be done will have to be behind-the-scenes diplomatic action. So there might not be much in the way of visible, headline-grabbing stuff. No GI Joe or even Jack Ryan stuff.

    The Washington Post itself is not actually recommending any particular course of action. In fact it devotes its whole editorial to dithering. So I’m damned if I know what it wants from Obama. Does it just want him to sound more fierce? Y’know, like Beyoncé?
    I’m with flukebucket and Momsense. There’s an adult on the case, President Obama; just let him get on with it.

  54. 54
    Suffern ACE says:

    We should pull the USS Ronald Reagan out of dry dock and plant it right in St. Petersburg. The russian one, or the Florida one, who cares.

  55. 55
    Roger Moore says:

    @mdblanche:

    The lesson from World War I is that you should never be too eager to go to war. But the lesson from World War II is that you should never be too hesitant to go to war.

    I would say that the lesson of WWII is that it only takes one side to start a way, so a country that is bound and determined to have one will get its way no matter how much the neighbors try to prevent it. It’s just not a terribly helpful lesson, and one that’s easy to misapply, because it’s not a common situation.

  56. 56
    Suffern ACE says:

    IT’S BEEN A WEEK! NEXT WEEK IT WILL BE TWO! BY THE TIME THIS IS OVER IT MIGHT BE MONTHS! WE SHOULD HAVE DESTROYED THEM YEARS AGO!

  57. 57
    Belafon says:

    @Suffern ACE: When I served on a carrier I always thought about the message you could send by taking one and plowing it full speed into a port city and just letting pieces fall where they may.

  58. 58
    Baud says:

    Too bad Slim Pickens is dead, or we could send him to Russia to teach them a thing or two.

  59. 59
    The Pale Scot says:

    Obviously, Vlad has learned the therapeutic effects of picking up some small little country and throw it against the wall.

  60. 60
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    I think the eastern Ukraine could turn into a giant problem for Putin and, consequently, for the rest of us. If Russia stops with grabbing the Crimea and offers some sort of fig leaf of an autonomous province this could probably end with everyone going home and Russia facing a few new problems on the international scene.

    Unfortunately, serious unrest in Khirkov or Donetsk upsets that apple cart. I don’t think that there’s any chance that rebels there can force secession from Ukraine without overt Russian support, but intervention there eliminates any pretense that this is anything other than an invasion. It would basically force the EU and US to up their response. It would also stretch the Russian military pretty thin and involve a real occupation of a lot of territory. Think the Chechens might try to take advantage of that.

    So I can’t imagine that Putin really wants to get involved in occupying eastern Ukraine. But I also don’t see how he can do anything else if there’s rioting and revolt there. Is he going to stand by and let the Kiev government put it down?

    So that’s my big worry at this point: a feeling that Vlad may have started something that he can’t control.

  61. 61
    Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Holy shit, DO NOT look at the comments to that Bloomberg article I linked to. Unbelievable cesspool, wow.

  62. 62
    Origuy says:

    Aren’t there technical problems with getting the US Mediterranean Fleet into the Black Sea? Something about not getting our carriers through the Bosporus? I thought I read that somewhere.

  63. 63
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Belafon: Yeah, but that particular carrier has the added bonus of being radioactive at the moment. We may end up sinking it anyway if it can’t be be cleaned.

  64. 64
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    You mean he’s subscribed to the Richard Cohen feel good regimen?

  65. 65
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Hold back on doing the same for the USS Jerry Ford. It would probably end up attacking Poland.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Origuy:

    There are also treaty details dating back to before WWII, but that’s just a fuckin’ scrap of paper.

  67. 67
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Chris:

    Not whether you achieve your objectives (whether you have objectives or not),

    FTFY

  68. 68
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Amir Khalid: Well, Ukraine is not powerless here, and this is their fight if they choose to have it. And if they signal that they are willing to have it (their restraint thus far should be noted) then the most that the west should do is provide for the defense of the rest of Ukraine, stay out of Crimea, but provide the Ukrainian troops all the non-combat support we can muster.

    I doubt that Russia is interested in keeping Crimea as a hostile state. So far it hasn’t been a hostile state, so it’s easy to keep. Ukraine needs to decide whether or not to change that, and so far they’ve chosen not to change it. That’s their decision, and if it’s their final decision, then that’s that. We should no more force Ukraine to hold onto Crimea than force them to give it up.

    So I’m damned if I know what it wants from Obama.

    It want’s Obama to not be President and someone like Romney who will protect their business interests to be President. Ignore what they say they want, that’s what they want.

  69. 69
    Suffern ACE says:

    Jason was heading to the Crimea to pick up the Golden Fleece. I believe he had to get the advice from a blind seer on how he could get through. Unfortunately, the blind seer industry collapsed 1700 years ago.

  70. 70
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Citizen_X: It’s a pretty big aside in some ways and a complete nothingburger in others. Nuclear weapons are a great way for the Russians to keep anyone else from providing direct military support to the Ukrainians. They are utterly useless for actually forcing the Ukrainians to submit to Russian demands. Any threats of using nukes on Kiev are devoid of credibility and so they aren’t a useful tool for the job.

    Nuclear weapons only help in a situation in which you can credibly claim that you prefer incinerating the world to backing down. That’s not nothing, but in most situations it’s not very much.

  71. 71
    NotMax says:

    @Suffern ACE

    We’re #1!

    No other country has a $4½ billion nightlight!

  72. 72
    Suffern ACE says:

    @🎂 Martin: But they don’t have business interests there. This is just foolish wankery. And you are correct. We should not calling for a war that the Ukranians haven’t even said they want yet.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    I think the eastern Ukraine could turn into a giant problem for Putin and, consequently, for the rest of us. If Russia stops with grabbing the Crimea and offers some sort of fig leaf of an autonomous province this could probably end with everyone going home and Russia facing a few new problems on the international scene.

    Seems likeliest at this point. Isn’t that what they did in Georgia, too?

  74. 74
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    There haven’t been enough photogenic explosions and pow-kowpowing for them recently. And maybe a little photogenic blood, as long as its not too much and its the other side painted as responsible.

  75. 75
    Roger Moore says:

    @Botsplainer:

    When Hitler devoured the Sudentenland, the UK was really unready.

    So was Germany; they were rearming as vigorously as the UK was. Even worse, giving the Germans the keys to Czechoslovakia gave them a lot of nice military equipment and a substantial arms industry (e.g. Skoda), plus a larger population to recruit from. It basically took the Czechoslovakian army from one side to the other, which was a big deal. A war started in 1938 would have been messy, but it probably would have gone worse for Germany than the actual events.

  76. 76
    Elizabelle says:

    And some brainiac commenter has just responded to my comment that, under Katharine Graham, the Post was just as critical of President Obama.

    Over and out.

  77. 77
    Chris says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Unfortunately, the blind seer industry collapsed 1700 years ago.

    THANKS, CHRISTIANS.

  78. 78
    IowaOldLady says:

    I’m actually impressed when the Village occasionally comments as if this were foreign policy instead of a move in the domestic horse race.

  79. 79
    Judge Crater says:

    @Citizen_X: Yes, but having nukes is a dead end, literally. You use them and everyone dies. On both sides.

  80. 80
    Violet says:

    The US is not sending a presidential delegation to the Paralympics in Sochi. I saw a headline that the UK is doing the same thing.

  81. 81
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Origuy: I think we would have to conference with Turkey about that, seeing how Istanbul lies on both sides of the straights. But, hey, what do I know…

  82. 82
    Felonius Monk says:

    Via Gin & Tacos yesterday was this gem in reference to the Sunday morning gasbags:

    There’s nothing quite like watching angry, impotent old men who know they will never be calling the shots talking tough about what they would do and trying to convince themselves that with a white Republican president everyone would cower in fear of America once again. The domestic politics of this Crimean crisis are playing out so predictably that we can shut off all of the analytic parts of our brains and treat it as pure cabaret. As always, it doesn’t much matter what the President does, the GOP is foaming at the mouth to criticize it. If he does something immediate and decisive, then he’s a tyrant and dictator. If he waits, he gets to listen to a South Carolina hillbilly who couldn’t find the Crimea on a map if his life depended on it call him “weak and indecisive.” More Neville Chamberlain references, tough guys!

    The Republican message this weekend was remarkably consistent: clearly Obama needs to Do Something. Exactly what he should do, no one can say. That’s inconsequential to Republicans, of course; all that matters is that the Kenyan One is a pussy and so on. In practical terms, though, the fact that no one has the slightest idea how the U.S. could or should respond is rather important. Every Republican hayseed who can get his face in a camera is making demands; boycott the G8. (Ooh, that’ll show him!) Send in the aircraft carriers. (Sure, we’ll start WWIII!) Impose economic sanctions. (They depend on us economically for what, exactly?) If this is the best they can do, it does nothing but underscore the dearth of realistic options available to the U.S. in a situation halfway around the globe that has absolutely nothing to do with America or its interests.

    I think the whole post is worth reading.

  83. 83
    MattF says:

    @Elizabelle: Time is an illusion, life is but a dream.

  84. 84
    Origuy says:

    An anecdote posted by a Russian on Facebook (Bing translation):

    Our spies from Donetsk report: “under the OG is about 100-150 people, regularly shouting Russia!, waving Russian flags. The OG fence, works, near the entrance to the police chain without special equipment and without automatic weapons (as far as to consider). I like these guys, asked what they want, the answer was: “Donbass-Russia!” I asked pacančika what time is it, he looked at his watch and said, “five!”. And actually, it was three. City Administration is generally calm, there were no pickets there. ”

    Donetsk is in eastern Ukraine. I don’t know where the “I like these guys” comes from; my Russian is pretty bad, but I don’t see anything in the corresponding sentence that would translate to that. Google translates it differently. Anyway, the point is that the people demonstrating came from Russia, not Ukraine. There have been reports of buses bringing people in from Russia to Kharkiv and other places.

  85. 85
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @mdblanche:

    As for sending forces into the Black Sea, does James Stavridis propose following the Montreux Convention (which as an admiral and a former NATO Supreme Commander I would hope he’s familiar with) and only send a force large enough to do nothing but annoy the Russians, or does he propose breaking the Convention to really enrage them?

    Turkey also has to live with Russia as a next-door neighbour. You have to wonder what would happen if the US wanted to transit a large force and Turkey simply said “no”. Or maybe “We’ll get back to you after Europe votes on it”.

  86. 86
    Origuy says:

    @PurpleGirl: Yeah, I know about the treaties. My suggestion is that it is physically impossible to get some of our ships in there. Not that aircraft carriers need to get that close.

  87. 87
    Anoniminous says:

    @Baud:

    If Commander Codpiece was still in charge we’d have invaded Uganda to save Uruguay from the Russian aggression in Uzbekistan.

    Stratergy. He had it.

  88. 88
    mdblanche says:

    @Roger Moore: I was just trying to frame the lessons in the most useless way possible.

    @PurpleGirl: Turkey is kind of legally required to really restrict any ships we would send into the Black Sea. Any aircraft carriers under 15000 tons?

  89. 89
    burnspbesq says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I haven’t figured out myself what America (or the world community) should do, beyond avoiding any military intervention when it doesn’t really know whom it would be fighting, for or against.

    It’s simple. The United States shouldn’t do anything. On the other hand, Uruguay should deploy the Ultimate Weapon, Hannibal Suarez, to bite Putin. That’ll teach his pasty white ass.

  90. 90
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @NotMax: Retake the Philippines!

    Attack Prussia! It’s almost the same as Russia!

  91. 91
    burnspbesq says:

    You know your country’s in the shitter when you have to move a national team football match to Cyprus. I’m guessing the attendance for USA-Ukraine in Larnaca on Wednesday night will be about 1,500 if they give the tickets away for free.

  92. 92
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Origuy: I think that makes sense. If the Russian Separatist party whose leader Russia has tapped to be Governor received only 4% of the vote in the Crimea the last election, there probably isn’t a huge Russian separatist movement to begin with in the Crimea. Let’s say only ethnic Russian’s voted for him. That is about 10%. And just saying “I want my own country” isn’t the same as saying “I want Russian Troops wandering around shooting my neighbors.”

  93. 93
    GregB says:

    Has Patriot Snowden released the American nuclear codes to the kindly Putin fellow yet?

  94. 94
    mdblanche says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: My understanding is that Turkey and Russia have never been that friendly and the Turks might fancy themselves protectors of the Crimean Tatars (shades of the Crimean War in reverse) who are pretty unhappy right about now. But I somehow doubt Turkey wants to open that particular can of worms.

  95. 95
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Belafon:

    How well does a carrier defend itself against mass artillery fire anyhow?

  96. 96
    danielx says:

    This story is the Village’s wet dream. It lets them pretend they’re back in the 80s – no, better, 1979. The Soviet Union is scary and everyone is about to see that liberals just don’t know how to govern and only a cowboy can keep us safe and bring down the Evil Empire and make them feel mature and responsible for hating blacks and poor people.

    Yup. The good old days. Makes their dicks get hard. Because commies.

  97. 97
    Fair Economist says:

    The idea that Putin is taking advantage of Obama’s supposed “weakness” is nonsense. We can’t do anything militarily and he knows that (as he showed in Ossetia with the worst warmonger in modern history in the White House).

    Putin is reacting to a street rebellion by disaffected youth that exposed and overthrew a kleptocrat leader hiding behind a facade of democracy. Because the exact same scenario is a possibility in Moscow, and in that case the disgraced former leader sneaking across the border will be him. If the Maidan revolution sets off a generalized exposure of corruption Putin is in serious trouble.

    Most likely the real story in Eastern Ukraine is a plan to transfer looting power from the current Ukrainian oligarchs to Putin’s Russian oligarch friends and allies. With a big cut for Putin himself, of course.

  98. 98
    Chris says:

    @Anoniminous:

    If Commander Codpiece was still in charge we’d have invaded Uganda to save Uruguay from the Russian aggression in Uzbekistan.

    Don’t you mean Uzbekibeki, bekibekistanstan?

  99. 99
    Amir Khalid says:

    @burnspbesq:
    Alas, Hannibal Suarez seems to have quit biting people, at least for now. Maybe the UK could send Alan Pardew over? Since there’s a chance Premier League stadiums could be off-limits to him between now and mid-May, he’d be available to head-butt Putin.

  100. 100

    My Twitter feed is exploding with right-wing rantings because The New Republic did a piece saying Mitt Romney was right when he said Russia was our greatest threat and everyone laughed. For some reason right-wingers think The New Republic is a Very Serious Left-Wing Magazine. So funny.

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to remember what right-winger’s said when Russia invaded Georgia 5 or 6 years ago. Now, who was president then? Thinking … thinking …

  101. 101
    catclub says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: By staying 200-300 miles away from said artillery.

  102. 102
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @burnspbesq: Don’t the Cypriots love their children football too? Also, who said they would charge American football prices for tickets?

  103. 103
    Anoniminous says:

    @Chris:

    He’s [Putin] compounded his loss of a key ally in Kiev by further enflaming Ukrainian nationalism

    Report from Kiev is Ukrainians are lining up to volunteer for military service.

    (Take with salt.)

  104. 104
    Tommy says:

    @Belafon: wouldn’t it be better, and maybe the point, to let your plane hit said city and then let things fall where they may be? Just asking. Not sure how plowing the thing into a port does much of anything other then (1) ruin our carrier and (2) ruin said port.

  105. 105
    Calouste says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Heck, when the Nazis remilitarized the Rhineland in 1935, they did so on bicycle. The French could have sneezed and blown them back across the Rhine, and the Nazis knew that.

  106. 106
    greenergood says:

    common sense form Craig Murray (www.craigmurray.co.uk):
    By sending troops into the Ukraine, (others than those stationed there by agreement) Putin has broken international law. That does not depend on the Budapest Memorandum. It would be a breach of international law whether the Budapest Memorandum existed or not. The effect of the Budapest Memorandum is rather to oblige the US and the UK to do something about it.

    The existence of civil disturbance in a country does not justify outside military intervention. That it does is, of course, the Blair doctrine that I have been campaigning against for 15 years, inside and outside government. Putin of course opposes such interventions by the West, in Iraq, Syria or Libya, but supports such interventions when he does them, as in Georgia and Ukraine. That is hypocrisy. There are elements on the British left who also oppose such interventions when the West does them, but support when Putin does them. You can see their arguments on the last comments thread: fascinatingly none of them have addressed my point about Putin’s distinct lack of interest in the principle of self-determination when it comes to Chechnya or Dagestan.

    The overwhelming need now is to de-escalate the crisis. People rushing about in tanks and helicopters very often leads to violence, and here Putin is at fault. There was no imminent physical threat to Russians in the Crimea, and there is no need for all this military activity. Ukraine should file a case against Russia at the International Court of Justice; the UK and US, as guarantor states, can ask to be attached as guarantor states with an interest in the Budapest Memorandum . That will fulfil their guarantor obligations without moving a soldier.

    The West is not going to provide the kind of massive financial package needed to rescue the Ukraine’s moribund economy and relieve its debts. It would be great if it did, but with western economies struggling, no western politician is in a position to announce many billions in aid to the Ukraine. The chances of Ukraine escaping from Russian political and economic domination in the near future are non-existent – the Ukrainians are tied by debt. That was the hard reality that scuppered the EU/Ukraine agreement. That hard reality still exists. The Association Agreement is a very long path to EU membership.

    Both Putin and the West are reacting to events which unfolded within Ukraine. Action by the West was not a significant factor in the toppling by Yanukovich – that was a nationalist reaction to an abrupt change of political direction which seemed to be moving Ukraine decisively into the Russian orbit. Ukrainians are not stupid and they can see the standard of living in former Soviet Bloc countries which have joined the European Union is now much higher . Anybody who denies that is deluded. Of course western governments had programmes to encourage pro-western tendencies in Ukraine, including secret operations. It would be naïve to expect otherwise. Anybody who thinks Russia was not doing exactly the same is deluded. But it is a huge mistake to lay too much weight on these efforts – both the West and Russia were taken aback by the strength and speed of the political convulsions in Ukraine, and everybody is still paying catch-up.

    Which is why we now need a period of calm, and an end to dangerous military adventurism – which undeniably is coming primarily from Russia. Political dialogue needs to be resumed. It is interesting that even the pro-Russian assembly of Crimea region has only called a referendum on more devolved powers, not on union with Russia or independence. However I still maintain the best way forward is agreement on internationally supervised referenda to settle the position. The principle of self-determination should be the most important one here. If any of the regions of Ukraine wish to secede, the goal should be a peaceful and orderly transition. Effective military annexation by Putin, and insistence by the West that national boundaries cannot be changed, are both unproductive stances.

  107. 107
    jl says:

    Things will get more Cold Warish before they get less. Maybe talk about what NATO should do will sober up some irresponsible people and pundits. But sadly I doubt it.

    NATO Meeting & What Needs to Be Done

    ” NATO Ambassadors will meet tomorrow for the second time in 48 hours, this time at the request of Poland, which invoked Article 4 of the NATO Treaty in order to convene the meeting. What does this mean? And what should the 28 NATO Allies decide to do?

    Article 4 provides for consultations of the NATO members “whenever, in opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.” Such consultations are rare—this would be only the fourth time they have happened. The last time was in 2012, following the Syrian shoot-down of a Turkish fighter over the Mediterranean. ”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/e.....to-be-done

  108. 108
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Tommy: It would look cool and be very noisy to have an aircraft carrier run aground. Also, it is a badass move. Badass, I tell you. It’s like running over a guy in a Chevy with your Masarati because you can just buy another one. The movie would be awesome. Especially if the aircraft carrier was staffed with robot warriors.

  109. 109
    NotMax says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Don’t need no es-stinking ships.

    We’ve got Incirlik Air base right there in Turkey.

    Only need to reprogram those smart missiles to hone in on the smell of vodka…

    /RWNJ

  110. 110
    Cermet says:

    @mdblanche: LOL – really? WWI was the most needless war ever fought; 40 – 50 million died over empire and inbreed cousins (wonder if the over 100 million (!) that died from the flu that started in training bases ever would have occured without WW I?) Hitler talked about conquering much of the world and when German’s voice that idea as a nation, its time for war.

    That all said, how in the fucking world does WW I or II have the slightest parallel to the Crimea? Where are all the secret treaties, special culture issues across numerous countries and numerous ethic groups constantly waring upon each other as in WW I? Not there. Or a leader with a people known to think war and conquering is a fun past time – most definitely not the Russians who remember all too well their WW II loses.

    What interest do we have in that back water? I am more concerned about the thugs wanting to “once” more revamp welfare being sure to screw the poor, rape the middle class and provide relief to the God damned 0.0001% (which some BJ here need to lick their ass’s.) This is just fire for the thugs to attack the black man in the White House.

    If the Ukraine is soooo important, let the thugs, their media allies, and other supporters go themselves and fight those Russians – we’d see really fast what cowards all the people wanting war really are. Ass wipes all.

  111. 111
    Heliopause says:

    The linked piece makes some good points, but I’m still trying to figure out why he says that “this crisis is Putin’s Waterloo.” As Robert Gates sensibly points out in this article, Obama’s policies in Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria rely to varying degrees on a compliant Russia. In other words, the Russians have got a few cards to play as well.

  112. 112
    Anoniminous says:

    @Chris:

    OK.

    I laughed. Out loud.

  113. 113
    PJ says:

    @Botsplainer: Munich bought time for the Germans, too. Czechoslovakia had 35 divisions mobilized which, combined with the mountainous terrain and defenses, would have tied the Germans down for some time (at least according to German generals after they had inspected the defenses). This would have given the French and British, had they the will (which they clearly didn’t), plenty of opportunity to attack from the West. Furthermore, all of the Czechoslovak armaments and industry fell into German hands. When the Germans invaded France 18 months later, they were riding in Praga tanks.

  114. 114
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @catclub: 300 miles is about the range of a strike aircraft off a carrier deck with full tanks and a limited amount of deliverable underwing stores. If they have to duck or dodge modern AA then the range drops and the first thing they do when faced with hostile air is to drop the stores before either engaging short-range or turning and running back to get under their CAP and the missile cruisers that support a carrier.

    A carrier stuck in tight brown water is of course a sitting duck for shore-based anti-shipping missiles like, for example, the Moskit which was specifically designed to kill (or at least severely damage) US carriers and other large ships. We haven’t even mentioned submarines yet…

  115. 115
    Anoniminous says:

    @Chris:

    Speaking as someone whose field of study is IR

    May one inquire about your specialty?

    ETA: International Relations is a big topic

  116. 116
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Suffern ACE: It would probably do more good, if it was the Florida one.

  117. 117
    jl says:

    @jl:

    I’ve long thought that expansion of NATO into Warsaw too quickly was foolish. And I had some rather animated conversations in Baltics with friends and co-workers when I was there about it.

    But, perhaps it will sink in to some people’s heads that this is potentially very grave business, and prudence, and patience, and careful and flexible diplomacy is the best way to go.

    But, I see in the news that Boehner has joined the ‘ time to get tough with Putin’ crowd. Another scoundrel heard from.

    Edit: To make it clear, I think we should be firm, and over the long term ‘get tough’, but there are short term dangerous ways to do that, and longer term, more patient and subtle ways to do that. I hope we take the latter course.

  118. 118
    Trollhattan says:

    @Felonius Monk:
    Jon Stewart will definitely be dusting off his Lindsay Blanche DuBois Graham to mock his attempting to mock Obama’s lack of manly resolve WRT Ukraine.

    Am pretty sure the narrative will eventually boil down to “Due to our lack of bomberings of Iran and Syria, we’ve unleashed the PutinBeast to reclaim the Soviet Union.” I await video of Louis Gomert working that into a campaign speech this summer.

  119. 119
    mdblanche says:

    @Cermet:

    That all said, how in the fucking world does WW I or II have the slightest parallel to the Crimea? Where are all the secret treaties, special culture issues across numerous countries and numerous ethic groups constantly waring upon each other as in WW I? Not there. Or a leader with a people known to think war and conquering is a fun past time – most definitely not the Russians who remember all too well their WW II loses.

    All valid points, but our failed media experiment will make the comparisons anyway because that’s all they know how to do.

  120. 120
    Belafon says:

    @Tommy: I was in the Navy, on a HUGE ship, I wanted out, and occasionally entertained myself with these thoughts. Don’t think of it as a rational exercise, just a thought.

  121. 121
    Anoniminous says:

    @Trollhattan:

    If the GOP wants to make it an issue … cool. Politically, I am MORE than happy to be able to campaign on ‘Obama didn’t get us in a war with Russia.’

  122. 122
    Trollhattan says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Have no idea what standard Navy doctrine is, but sending a carrier group through the Bosphoros sounds like the unstartiest of non-starters. Schlep a couple cruise missile subs through, sure, but what then?

  123. 123
    jl says:

    @Trollhattan: People like McCain and Graham run around flacking whatever crisis of the day as the new mega crisis that is the most important thing ever. Let alone Kristol and the neocons who have gone around actively ginning up new Great Satans on an almost annual basis, in the hopes a grand crisis that will help them politically. Heck, Kristol said it was for partisan domestic political purposes himself, in writing. I don’t understand now anyone can take such irresponsible and unscrupulous people seriously.

    Well, we should take them seriously,but as dangers, not as people with anything useful to say.

  124. 124
    Splitting Image says:

    Seeing as the pundits are doing an 80s revival, here’s what Humphrey Appleby had to say about the situation:

    Jim Hacker: Humphrey, do you think it is a good idea to issue a statement?
    Sir Humphrey: Well, Minister, in practical terms we have the usual six options: One: do nothing. Two: issue a statement deploring the speech. Three: lodge an official protest. Four: cut off aid. Five: break off diplomatic relations. And six: declare war.
    Hacker: Which should it be?
    Sir Humphrey: Well, if we do nothing, that means we implicitly agree with the speech. If we issue a statement, we’ll just look foolish. If we lodge a protest, it’ll be ignored. We can’t cut off aid, because we don’t give them any. If we break off diplomatic relations, then we can’t negotiate the oil rig contracts. And if we declare war, it might just look as though we were over-reacting!

    Nailed it in one, right down to the comment on oil.

    So far I agree that this whole situation is going worse for Putin than anyone else, outside the Beltway media. The only positives for him are that he’s taken the crowing about the hockey team losing and the funny colour of the Sochi water off of the headlines.

  125. 125
    Baud says:

    Jake Tapper responds to John Cole

    John Cole ‏@Johngcole 1h

    @jaketapper Did you really just entertain the notion that the mess in Ukraine was caused by Obama?

    Retweeted by John Cole
    Jake Tapper ‏@jaketapper 31m

    @Johngcole two experts suggested Putin may have interpreted WH moves as weakness so I asked WH to respond. Discussed alt theories as well

  126. 126
    Violet says:

    @danielx:

    Yup. The good old days. Makes their dicks get hard. Because commies.

    I think it’s really because Reagan. He’s the one who gave them wood. Getting to swing at commies only worked with the Daddy President in place.

  127. 127
    Chris says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Always glad to entertain!

    @Anoniminous:

    Middle East. Currently trying to wrangle a scholarship to get my ass out to study abroad in Central Asia next year, purpose being to finally get fluent in Persian/Farsi (the other options, doing that in Iran or Afghanistan, are both iffy), which means finally being able to get serious in studying the region (e.g. not just what English and French speaking writers have said about it).

  128. 128
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Rob in CT:

    hey, it’s Jeff Goldberg

    Tx for the link. Even if the transcript was edited, it comes across as reasonable and intelligent. I cannot imagine reading a transcript of a similar interview with GWBush, or McCain, or Romney (or Palin or Ryan) and not wanting to punch holes in walls.
    (I was also impressed by an earlier interview JG did with BO in the Atlantic.)

  129. 129
    David Koch says:

    Here’s another good article from NYMag: The Misplaced Question of Obama’s Toughness

  130. 130
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Southern Beale: If you agree that “we’re all Ukranians now” then I guess maybe Romney is right. If you’re like me and prefer to stay American, then Romney is still wrong.

  131. 131
    Anoniminous says:

    @Chris:

    That’s great. The US desperately needs some sanity wrt the ME.

  132. 132
    Chris says:

    @Splitting Image:

    That’s a good one.

    Here’s another classic quote that’s been going through my head which exactly covers how Official Washington (Congress, MSM, etc) has been reacting to this crisis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMTDQZzQMKk

  133. 133
    Chris says:

    @Violet:

    I think it’s really because Reagan. He’s the one who gave them wood. Getting to swing at commies only worked with the Daddy President in place.

    AND HE BROUGHT DOWN THE SOVIET UNION! See, it WORKS!

  134. 134
    Anoniminous says:

    @Belafon:

    A good thought, tho.

    Obama, the scum, has let our trireme fleets dwindle to nothing, opening the door to domination of the eastern Mediterranean by Carthage.

  135. 135
    Redshift says:

    @Trollhattan: I’d think it would be tough to combine that with their man-crush on Putin, but consistency isn’t exactly one of their strong points.

  136. 136
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Splitting Image: Sir Humphrey’s general advice is specifically all over the Beltway press today:

    “Something must be done.
    This is something.
    Therefore this must be done.”

  137. 137
    Redshift says:

    I know it’s been there for a few days, but the Newsmax headline “Sarah Palin Predicted Russian Invasion” still makes me chuckle. Not gonna click through to find out if it’s “Putin rears his head” or some other statement that they’re giving the Nostradamus treatment, though.

  138. 138
    hoodie says:

    Maybe Putin has given up trying to be popular outside of Russia, because he just extinguished what little glow he might have gained from Sochi. That said, never was so much spent on something so eminently forgettable (maybe the Crimean invasion was in part a bit of pique from the world’s collective yawn about Sochi), and now it’s long forgotten. Putin is not Stalin or Hitler, however, because he doesn’t have that kind of state control or industrial prowess, or the even the ideological heft that went with old-style messianic Communism. Russian nationalism is for Russians, it’s perishable without refrigeration. If he limits his incursion to Crimea, he can probably walk away without too much damage to his credibility. An incursion into greater Ukraine would be stepping in a bucket of shit. I hope Putin’s smarter than that.

  139. 139
    🎂 Martin says:

    @mdblanche:

    Any aircraft carriers under 15000 tons?

    I’m not sure the smallest vessel in a carrier group is less than 15,000t. Hell, there are private yachts tipping 15,000t.

    @Robert Sneddon:

    A carrier stuck in tight brown water is of course a sitting duck for shore-based anti-shipping missiles like, for example, the Moskit which was specifically designed to kill (or at least severely damage) US carriers and other large ships. We haven’t even mentioned submarines yet…

    Russia won’t hang around long enough for us to get planes off carriers. Crimea is supposed to be a free pickup – he’s not willing to exchange ordinance with anyone other than Ukrainian forces over this. If NATO or the US jump in, he’s out of there. Not that there won’t be a cost for us doing that, because I suspect others are right that Putin will drop their sanctions against Syria and Iran, and we’ll be right back to where we started in those places. He knows he holds that card and he knows how badly we want Russia following our lead there. This is where Obama is screwed. If he acts and those things happen, he’ll be weak and a failure. If he does nothing and Russia keeps Crimea, he’ll be weak and a failure. If he stays out of it but backs the EU to act and France kicks Russia out of Ukraine, Obama will be weak and failure because France had to show us up.

    So, let’s all be clear that next week’s headline will be that Obama is weak and a failure no matter what happens.

  140. 140
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Redshift: Well, there’s hope for us yet if Russia invaded Ukraine by overflying Alaska.

  141. 141
    David Koch says:

    Here’s a good anthology of the good and ridiculous advice from arm chair generals

    Chait is hilarious today, denouncing TNR, Katrina vanden Heuvel’s creepy husband, and the commentators to his own magazine for stoopid war lust.

  142. 142
    dedc79 says:

    My favorite Obama-hating right-wing Ukraine posts of the day both come courtesy of The Corner.

    First, one of the Iran Contra crooks and Iraq War architects claiming that “[b]efore Obama, there was a sense of world order that relied in large part on America.”

    Then there’s Putin-loving Victor David Hansen, blaming the whole crisis on our President.

  143. 143
    NotMax says:

    @Cermet

    What interest do we have in that back water?

    As you keep asking (and unsure if you are serious or trolling and being deliberately obtuse and demeaning), will give one of many answers.

    One of the cornerstones of the foundation of the post-war structure of nation-states (and I’ll be the first to admit it has been honored on paper and not in practice at times) is that national borders are sacrosanct in that altering them through military intervention by one nation upon another is an unacceptable violation.

    Pulling that stone out (or chipping it away by not reacting in disapprobation through activation of non-martial means – ignoring or immediately acquiescing to a breach by a major power is simply untenable) threatens the entire structure of global co-existence. (This is not to say it is a perfect structure, but that our interest is in maintaining that structure.)

    (Complex topic; putting it in so few words is not meant to be anywhere near fully explanatory.)

  144. 144
    Elizabelle says:

    @David Koch:

    Thank you, David. That does look good. Has an embedded link that author says explains origin of Ukraine crisis.

  145. 145
    Bill Arnold says:

    @David Koch:

    The Misplaced Question of Obama’s Toughness

    Another consideration: Obama’s super-power is that his opponents tend to self-destruct. Just saying since nobody has said it yet. :-)
    More seriously, looking through Russian media best as I can without actually reading Russian, it apears that there might be a certain amount of epistemic closure (so to speak, and due to Russian media nuttiness, sort of like Fox News) at play in the upper levels of the Russian government.
    Does anyone here have an opinion on how the (state-controlled) Russian media might be affecting the policies of the Russian government? (i.e. does the causation run both ways?)

  146. 146
    MomSense says:

    I was thinking about how the President is framed by the Republicans. In economic policy they talk about him as a socialist who is initiating some sort of sinister government takeover in order to give free stuff to blahs and browns and wimmins. The reality, of course doesn’t resemble the framing in the least. He is pursuing what had been considered before Reagan to be the tried and true Keynesian economics – think Eisenhower post WWII or FDR after the disastrous Hoover austerity program.

    In foreign affairs his approach to Russia/Ukraine/Crimea is conservative (in a good way!!). We don’t have an interest in Ukraine. Russia has tremendous interest in protecting its Black Sea access and naval fleet at Sevastopol. Our European allies are dependent on Russian oil and gas supply so I doubt that they will be eager for military intervention.

    The last thing I will say is that all of this clamor for tough talk and unspecified actions is ridiculous given our history of blowback. Every time they compare Obama to Reagan and wish that Obama would take strong action (whatever that means) I have to wonder if they have ever considered all of the disastrous consequences from some of those actions.

  147. 147
    Hill Dweller says:

    @🎂 Martin: I think the US has a bit more leverage in the Iran negotiations. While Russia backing out certainly wouldn’t be helpful, the combined US/EU sanctions are still tough enough to compel Iran to deal.

    As for Syria, Russia hasn’t exactly been helpful. Assad is still dragging his feet. Obama could still use military action in Syria.

    All that said, the wingnuts/beltway will still call Obama weak even if things turn out fine.

  148. 148
    Hal says:

    Omg! Remember when Obama mocked Romney over Russia? Romney was tight! Romney 2012***if Romney had a tardis.

    I’ve seen this once on Facebook today. I’m wondering how many more times, while talking myself out of responding.

  149. 149
    Violet says:

    @MomSense:

    Every time they compare Obama to Reagan and wish that Obama would take strong action (whatever that means) I have to wonder if they have ever considered all of the disastrous consequences from some of those actions.

    The answer to that question is clearly no. The job of a pundit is not to consider all the angles and make judicious observations about difficult topics. The job of a pundit is to hit readers or viewers on an emotional level and get them to nod along, “Yes, that’s right. He knows what he’s talking about” so they’ll keep reading/watching.

    There are no consequences to being wrong if you’re a pundit. Even if you’re consistently wrong, you’ll still have a job. Hell, you might even get promoted. Since they never pay a price, they have zero incentive to think anything through. The more dick swinging and brash talk the better because that gets attention.

  150. 150
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @🎂 Martin: The not-an-aircraft carriers the US Marines use, the Tarawa and the new America class “amphibious landing ships” are Panamax with a displacement of about 40,000 to 45,000 tonnes, twice that of most other nations aircraft carriers (such as the Spanish King Carlos 1 based on the older Wasp class amphibious landing ship, 27,000 tonnes) or the new Japanese Izumo helicopter carrier which, at about the same size as the Akagi that was part of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, also comes in at about 27,000 tonnes full displacement.

    Think of it as the 21st century version of battleship inflation.

  151. 151
    🎂 Martin says:

    @NotMax: Yeah, but Cermet falls into the neo-liberal trap that we’ve set for ourselves – measuring everything in economic terms. What he’s really asking is whether this will change the price of radial tires next time he needs to buy a set. If the answer is ‘no’, then who the fuck cares?

    Not that the GOP are arguing from a stronger moral base here – they don’t give a shit about Crimeans either, this is just another excuse to blame the usurper for something, or to blow people up, which they equally love to do. Mostly Americans don’t give a shit about anyone we don’t have a direct personal connection to. If English was the national language of Ukraine, we’d have put boots on the ground weeks ago, but if you can’t understand the people when they thank you in their funny language, then why bother?

  152. 152
    Elizabelle says:

    New thread, please.

    Non-Ukraine topic. I want to zen out.

  153. 153
    David Koch says:

    Ya know, Obama has no shits to give about the beltway paper tigers.

    They’ve been pushing him for years to invade Syria, and gives them the finger every time.

    They screamed bloody murder when he launched the sustained carpet bombing of Bain Capital and he gave them the finger.

    They adopted the Likudnik line on Iran and he gave them the finger.

    Obama don’t care about their puny words.

  154. 154
    different-church-lady says:

    Oh, this is rich: it was only a few months ago I was assured by a certain front-pager it was a certain administration that was sporting the woody for war. It was all so clear back then.

    No, I’m not going to forget that rant, and I’m not going to let you forget it either.

  155. 155
    MomSense says:

    @Chris:

    Currently trying to wrangle a scholarship to get my ass out to study abroad in Central Asia next year, purpose being to finally get fluent in Persian/Farsi (the other options, doing that in Iran or Afghanistan, are both iffy), which means finally being able to get serious in studying the region (e.g. not just what English and French speaking writers have said about it).

    Grab at that opportunity with both hands!

  156. 156
    Violet says:

    @Hal: If Russia is so dangerous, why didn’t Saint George W. Bush put them in the Axis of Evil?

  157. 157
    NotMax says:

    @🎂 Martin

    Found it an interesting sidelight from reporting that, post-nationhood, there are so many statues of Lenin still extant in town squares in Ukraine.

  158. 158
    Ruckus says:

    @MomSense:
    Please remember that the only bad consequence for conservatives is that we didn’t do what they wanted hard enough. IOW they have real daddy issues and want the strong hand. Not for themselves of course, they will keep beating their heads against a wall right up until someone comes along and does it for them.

  159. 159
    MomSense says:

    @Violet:

    I swear the pundits that have the worst record are invited to pundicate the most. The less credible the better. I can’t stand them and have to ban all heavy objects from the room with the tv.

  160. 160
    MomSense says:

    @Ruckus:

    They really have created a sort of mythology about the US and they are incredibly loyal to that mythology–even though it is a fantasy.

  161. 161
    Patrick says:

    I remember like it was just yesterday when the idiots on FoxNews were criticizing Obama when Somali pirates had hijacked a US ship. Not only did they criticize Obama DURING the event (which we were told was equal to being a traitor when people had the audacity to criticize Bush after he attacked Iraq), they were also embarrassed when it turned out so well.

    BTW – anybody who was for the Iraq war, has no credibility whatsoever on foreign policy. That pretty much disqualifies most of the media and most of DC. Except for Obama…

  162. 162
    MomSense says:

    @Redshift:

    Nostradamus

    One person’s Nostradamus is another person’s NostraDUMBASS!

  163. 163
    Elizabelle says:

    @David Koch:

    Obama as honey badger. With a martini and whipsmart.

    I likes.

  164. 164
    MomSense says:

    @Hal:

    Too bad Romney was talking about the threat of the Soviet Union – only 20 years out of touch.

  165. 165
    Violet says:

    @MomSense: I wish news channels were limited to five minutes or less per hour of pundicating. If you have “News” in your network name, you have to do news. You can’t just bring people on as “experts” to blather. And you especially can’t have opinion shows. News only. Show me what’s happening.

  166. 166
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @different-church-lady: We’d be much more able to shape a response to the present crisis if we didn’t have all those boots on the ground in Libya and Syria.

  167. 167
    jl says:

    I really hate columns with titles claiming to know what is inside what leader’s head, or who is ‘winning’ or ‘losing’. Besides being absurd on its face that one could know in the midst of events, it makes light of serious situation. I read about families of Ukrainian soldiers forming a human shield around the airfield that is under the Russian ultimatum.

    I am sure they are really interested in who is supposed to be winning or losing the geopolitical game to day.

    But, nevertheless, this column has some interesting information on Russian popular opinion.

    4 Reasons Putin Is Already Losing in Ukraine
    http://news.yahoo.com/4-reason.....52971.html

    Anyone who knows a little about the info, I’d like to hear it. But from these numbers, it does not look like the move is very popular in Russia. I read another set of polls this morning (sorry, no time now for a link) that said support was between 40 and 45 percent, depending on the poll.

  168. 168
    jl says:

    @Violet:

    ” If Russia is so dangerous, why didn’t Saint George W. Bush put them in the Axis of Evil? ”

    Remember the GW Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and saw no problem.

    That and your response would do well for those who think the Cold War was all that great, and yearn to be back in that dismal world.

  169. 169
    EthylEster says:

    over 4400 comments at WaPo.
    Way more than I’ve ever seen.

    RT was interviewing Russians this weekend. They were very pleased with Fearless Leader. It reminded me so much of how happy many Amuricans were when we invaded Iraq. I hope these stalwart Russian citizens enjoy their feel good moment (Putin, fuck yeah!) before the feces hitting the fan gets on them.

  170. 170
    jl says:

    @EthylEster: See my comment above. Looks like what people say about current situation on TV and in anonymous polls differ. Or maybe they think current move is good, but want nothing further. Which is right? I don’t know.

  171. 171
    Anoniminous says:

    @Violet:

    Follow the money.

    News is an expensive business with a negative to low ROI. Pundits pundicating is one-tenth of the cost of having a broadcast team in a country.

  172. 172
    EthylEster says:

    @jl: I think RT is a biased source of news on this matter. I just thought their on street interviews were remarkable similar to ours back in 2003.

  173. 173
    Violet says:

    @Anoniminous: I know that. I just don’t think it should be allowed to be called news. It’s not. It’s pundicating.

  174. 174
    Catfish N. Cod says:

    You know how everything was Good News For John McCain, no matter what? I think now everything is Bad News For Barack Obama, no matter what.

  175. 175
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Trollhattan: Schlep a couple cruise missile subs through, sure, but what then?

    Watch the Russians stick a group of submarine killers to cover the Bosphorus, and then practice live-fire submarine hunting exercises with the rest of their fleet.

  176. 176
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    We should pull the USS Ronald Reagan out of dry dock and plant it right in St. Petersburg. The russian one, or the Florida one, who cares.

    Same diff

    +1 on this

  177. 177
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @NotMax: One of the cornerstones of the foundation of the post-war structure of nation-states (and I’ll be the first to admit it has been honored on paper and not in practice at times) is that national borders are sacrosanct in that altering them through military intervention by one nation upon another is an unacceptable violation.

    And if Russia runs a referendum showing that the Crimea wants to be Russian rather than Ukrainian? Is the Ukraine, a country that left the Soviet Union peacefully due to popular sentiment, going to use military force to overturn popular sentiment in a part which wants to leave it?

  178. 178
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Hey lazyweb, what’s the deal with the various claims from leftists supporting Putin’s invasion that Yanukovich was overthrown by American action and the revolutionary government is somehow a US puppet?

    Is there anything to this whatsoever?

  179. 179
    NotMax says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Different circumstance than what I was speaking to. Presuming a referendum not impelled by or held under deployment of exterior military authority, while still an internationally recognized part of Ukraine a Russian-imposed referendum would carry substantially less weight, to say the least.

  180. 180
    Gravenstone says:

    @Baud: Yo Tapper, names, motherfucker! Who are your alleged “experts”?

  181. 181
    mdblanche says:

    @jl: He looked into his eyes and saw his soulmate.

  182. 182
    dr. luba says:

    @Daffodil’s Mom:

    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot……of-us.html a brilliant and fascinating man offering a brilliant, fascinating and detailed analysis of what is really happening.

    “Really happening”? Seriously? The guy sounds like he is spewing propaganda directly from RT. “Close to 700’000 refuges from the Ukraine have sought refuge in Russia.” No documentation of that anywhere else in the world press.

    And the guy is a 9/11 Truther.

  183. 183
    debbie says:

    I’ve been at work all day and am not allowed to check the Internet. I listened to NPR all day on headphones, but nearly pitched them through my monitor when I heard McCan shrieking how the Obama administration had cost America its credibility. Can’t anyone in that *&#! Senate stand up and tell him that America’s credibility was lost with our 10-year Shock and Awe — well before Obama came to office?

  184. 184
    Elizabelle says:

    @EthylEster:

    Re over 4400 comments on WaPost story: I suspect Drudge might have linked. Comments are majority crazy town. A few well reasoned ones, but not enough to make skimming worthwhile.

  185. 185
    Bill Arnold says:

    @jl:
    In the poll referenced in the article, what was the poll size, and approximately what methodology?

  186. 186
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yeah. The people who are part of the interim government were being discussed by American Officials back in December. Of course, these officials are hardly unknown in Ukraine and would likely form part of an interim government. But don’t that stop the Left from a good spin.

    Did you know the US and Germany have spent $5.0 billion undermining Ukraine’s economy, through such things as “Foreign Direct Investment.” God, it sounds heinous.

    Do I think the US is involved in supporting protesters? Yeah, probably. I think the Left is worried that the protests aren’t “Pure” enough. They aren’t “Organic.” Precious body fluids might have been stolen to make these protests. The actions of the government and the Russians can be discounted. The revolution just isn’t upworthy.

  187. 187
    Roger That says:

    The Ioffe piece is actually pretty good, despite whatever other junk gets published at TNR. She’s not agitating for US interference and is pretty detailed, despite the pithy two-sentence pull.

  188. 188
    jl says:

    @Bill Arnold: I don’t have time to follow links to look for poll methodology right now. So, you are on your own there. If you can follow the links from the story to find out, let us know.

  189. 189
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Way late in a probably dead thread, but here are the comments of an actual retired USN Captain.

    Oh, by the way, once and for all, PLEASE stop talking about the US sending an aircraft carrier into the Black Sea. Can not happen. Will not happen. There has never, ever, been an operational aircraft carrier, of ANY country, in the Black Sea, and there never will be.
    First, it is ridiculous navigationally to have a ship the size of a carrier try to navigate the Bosporus.
    Second, it is tactically stupid to put your capital ship in a landlocked lake, where it may be unable to freely maneuver out of harm’s way.
    Third, it is EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN by the Montreux Convention. And we actually try to abide by our international treaty obligations.
    Fourth, it would be political suicide to send a floating nuclear power plant through that narrow strait against the will of Turkey, who stands to lose the most in the event of a grounding or other accident.

  190. 190
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Bill Arnold: The Time/Yahoo overview is: “The Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it. In phrasing its question to 1600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” they asked. Only 15% said yes – hardly a national consensus.”

    The actual press release of the polling center is here http://wciom.ru/index.php?id=459&uid=114720 It’s in Russian, but if you’re not comfortable reading Russian and can load it in Chrome, you can get a halfway-decent translation. The English pages discuss their methodology in more general terms, but not this specific sample, and they’re not quite as up-to-date.

  191. 191
    jl says:

    @max:
    @Roger That:

    Ioffe: When I come across a new person, and they publish regularly, I like to go back and look at their recent stuff. I ask myself how much reliable reporting of verifiable facts are reported? Does the person present any coherent picture from one piece to the next? Reading through the successive pieces, in retrospect, if I had read them, would they have helped at all in understanding what happened next?

    Try it and let me know what you think. I did not think she passed those tests as a useful reporter, or opinionist, or whatever she thinks she is doing.

    Besides being tired of foolish pieces that tell me what so and such is really thnking and who is winning and losing the latest geoplotical death cage match. I am tired of reading doom and gloom Putin, Russian and stupid little West lost again p r O n.

  192. 192
    jl says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thanks for running that info down.

  193. 193
    David Koch says:

    the above mentioned Julia Ioffe and some other clown from Tina Brown’s joke site appeared on Chris Hayes to say if Obama had only bombed Syria, this wouldn’t be happening.

    Hayes just sits there like a potted plant, not offering any counter to the ridiculous and offensive argument.

    The whole fucking channel would be down the drain without Rachel.

  194. 194
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: That’s from February 24th, though, before Putin actually invaded. I wonder if opinion’s changed now. War has a way of generating its own popular support in the early days.

  195. 195
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Thanks, that link through translate.google.com contains the following (in “translation”):

    The initiative Russian opinion polls were conducted on 1-2 February 2014 interviewed 1,600 people in 130 villages in 42 regions of Russia. The statistical error does not exceed 3.4%.

    It’s unclear to me whether this was for the recently-released poll results or an earlier poll.

  196. 196
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Bill Arnold: Sorry, I didn’t spend a lot of time with it before. They are saying the surveys were conducted Feb 1-2. The results were published Feb 24. So, in fact, it doesn’t seem terribly timely or relevant.

  197. 197
    jl says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    @Bill Arnold:
    @Gin & Tonic:

    I don’t know if I can find the link now, but I think more recent polls put support for Russian actions at between 40 and 45 percent. Which would show a big bump, but not even half. I think I read those numbers in an article about a ‘spontaneous’ pro occupation demonstration (from photos it looked more like a staged parade), where a lot of people were actual supporters but a lot of other people said they were ordered to go to the demonstration.

    I do not think 40 to 45 percent is particularly high for support with all the state friendly media.

    Edit: I guess I need to make a folder and save these things as I see them.

    Thanks again for finding the details and letting us know.

  198. 198
    jl says:

    Ok, this was not the article I was thinking of, but it apparently is the source of the 43 percent number. A plurality seem to take official Russian view, but does not seem to be a majority.

    The poll was taken Feb 24 to 25.

    Russian opinion divided over seizure of Crimea but majority likely to back Putin
    Polls suggest most Russians believe upheaval in Kiev was a western-sponsored coup and that Crimea was never Ukrainian
    http://www.theguardian.com/wor.....back-putin

  199. 199
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Daffodil’s Mom: There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t seen elsewhere, and I always feel the hairs on the back of my neck go up when I hear about “Anglo-Zionist” anything.

    I also thought this “Obama is the worst President and a coward” to be inflammatory and useless to further analyze what’s happening.

    I do not doubt that news we get from MSNBC to Fox is one-sided in favor of making Putin look evil and us righteous except that Obama is incompetent, but I don’t find the Saker to be without an ax to grind. I’d need a lot more confirmation of his info before I buy in.

    But I think that what he says about the neo-cons setting up Obama is closer to the truth.

  200. 200
    Bob In Portland says:

    @David Koch: Maddow, back last November, was reciting the state position on Oswald as the lone assassin. When Stone’s movie came out 92% of America believed in a conspiracy but no mainstream media pundit did. It’s still the same. They get their marching orders.

    For all the grief given to RT I can’t say things are any better here when it comes to certain subjects. When we were getting ready to go into Iraq the NYTimes had Judith Miller.

  201. 201
    LAC says:

    @GregB: LOL! I was wondering if it is ok now to not give Putin the Nobel prize complete with tongue bathing his balls since he took Snowflake in? Or do we not see what an utter shit he is?

  202. 202
    PJ says:

    @jl: In her long pieces about P. Riot and Putin, she comes across as both deeply cynical and incredibly naive, without the experience or research to back up her judgments. Given her background, it seems like she knows a little about Russia, but not much more than what her group of friends is thinking.

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