A confrontation looms as NATO and the EU take on Russia

The antics of the US foreign policy establishment continue to rivet us. Syria, which seemed ripe for a NATO bombing, has been temporarily set aside while our so-called decision-makers stir the pot in Ukraine, backed up by the fan club of the Greater European Community. And they are poking a stick in the Russian eye with regard to the Republic of Georgia, while they are at it. I don’t know what these guys who run the world from Washington think they are going to achieve. Do they really believe Russia will back down when the US rattles its saber? The only thing to stiffen the Russian spine more than a threat from the US would be a threat from Germany, which since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union has been assiduously re-gathering the Austro-Hungarian chicks into its own military alliance. The USG has swung between the dangerous utopianism of Hillary Clinton and the vain fist-shaking and provocation of the Kerry State Department. Remember when Mrs. Clinton called for an “overload” of US-Russian relations instead of a “reset?” Oops, she only had an entire School of Languages at her disposal, any number of whom are Russians. Perhaps they used a Ukrainian translator? Whatever the case, it seems to be true. We are now seriously overloading the US-Russian relationship and a circuit is going to blow soon.

Vladimir_Putin_Bear_1

If you cut through all the media hyperbole, here is the genesis of this blossoming confrontation: Russia agreed to allow East and West Germany to unite after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in return for which the leaders of France, the UK, Germany and the US (that would be Chirac, Thatcher, Kohl and Bush Sr.) pledged no further expansion eastward of the Alliance. When the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO (with Clinton at the US helm) rushed to expand into all the former Warsaw Pact countries (initially as “partners” if not full-fledged members) and then into the former Soviet states. It was clear from early on that the western powers did not plan on inviting Russia into the Alliance. It was too big and potentially too powerful. The US and its chief allies did not want to share their dominion. The Western political-economic-military encirclement of Russia is now nearly complete, with the US egging on Georgian as well as Ukrainian pro-westerners to defy (or in the case of western Ukraine, overthrow) their governments. And on the other side of Russia sits China.

The US position since the latest round of Ukrainian street violence has been to get itself in as deep as possible, almost drooling at the chance to cut the Russians out of Ukraine. What a coup! But as in other areas of the world, the US is focused on the short-term, lacking perspective beyond a brief victory. Our so-called leaders are woefully insensitive to the net impact and ramifications of what they encourage and make possible. Ukraine is and has been a deeply divided country with a heavy German and Russian influence — Catholics and Orthodox, fascists and communists, west and east. The divisions have now come to the fore with the injection of the great game of the West versus Russia, the Evil Ogre. The US and its western allies are pushing as hard as possible to break through in Ukraine and bring it into the EU/NATO fold, despite knowing (or at least historians and diplomatic professionals know) that such a push will provoke a push-back from the other parts of the country and most importantly, from Russia. I have no inside dope on what the Russians are planning; my only observation is that the total silence from the Russian media on what the Kremlin might have up its sleeve is very reminiscent of the total media silence in the Soviet Union every time something big happened (e.g. the invasion of Czechoslovakia). We do know that the Russian military is holding massive exercises near Ukraine and the Russian parliament has raised the possibility of granting all citizens of the Crimea Russian citizenship. Of course they have to go through eastern Ukraine to get to Crimea, so you figure out what that means. Do you remember Granada and Reagan’s pretext for intervention? He said “our citizens were in trouble.” They know how to say that in Russian, too. Another international precedent set by the US that Russia can now follow.

The most embarrassing part of all this is to hear our Secretary of State John Kerry telling Russia that there will be “grave consequences” if Russia violates the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Ukraine. And Kerry is determined to provoke: he also demanded that Russia get out of two secessionist areas of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia (which Russia could now simply annex at the separatists’ request). Kerry argued in the face of the obvious that what is going on in Ukraine is not part of an East-West chessboard from the Cold War, which he coupled with a call to bring Georgia into NATO. The West, and in particular the US, has never been able to shed its Cold War thinking, and now we are coming full circle.

The problem for NATO is that the US has set international precedent in favor of the use of military force in response to an endless list of nebulous threats to NATO or even to the citizens of another country with whom NATO doesn’t have a defense agreement. Their record demonstrates that their chief interests in bombing other countries are usually political and economic. The US has conspired with Western Europe to transform what should be deemed blatant violations of other nations’ territorial integrity and national sovereignty into a matter of subjective judgment for the aggressors. If you have a “good reason” you can wage war against your target, oust the government, and set up your own puppet government. For that matter, frankly, Russia would be responding to a more legitimate call for military assistance, one from ethnic Russians to their south, than the US ever had in Iraq. Or Serbia. Or Libya.

I don’t know what military plans NATO has in store for Russia, if any — most NATO member populations do not want any confrontation with Russia — but I think the West has seriously miscalculated on Ukraine. EU/NATO may end up with western Ukraine, but Russia would be more likely to annex the southeastern sector of Ukraine. The end result: Russia gains a warm-water port, important resources, and additional territory. NATO and the EU get a headache.

Good going.

Linked at BadBlue, uncensored news 24/7, read it here.

  • Gatortrapper

    U.S. policy is incoherent and inconsistent. Either we are a country that stands for liberty and self determination on the political front or not. Either we are committed domestically and internationally to free markets with limited government regulation for health and safety or not. Either we are going to respect national sovereignty or not.

    Let’s be real. Democratic republics are not pure “democracies” and for good reason as history is replete with few that have tried to allow a pure majority rule form of government. It only takes a short time for the mob to empty the treasury and send the nation into chaos. The compromise between the utopian rule of democracy, the requires an educated, engaged and fully informed population to even have a chance of functioning, and an autocratic form, was the balanced division of powers amongst discrete bodies that had the ability to check one another.

    While this has worked, or at least not descended into chaos here thus far, it is not a form of government that is ready made for export. It takes time for the rough edges to be smoothed out and in a modern society the dampening effects of distance that limited mobility of both people and information are now a thing of history and thus lost.

    All we can do is be an example and that means having consistency in foreign policy: something that the Obama world view lacks because frankly Obama himself, for all the claims of superior intelligence (which I have never accepted as being true) he is very shallow on history and appreciation of the historical context that shapes national visions. Russia is one such nation.

    Most Americans, for no other reason than plain self inflicted ignorance, don’t know that despite its long history Russia was not unlike China and Japan, cut off from real interaction with the West. It has always harbored great suspicions of outsiders and those who coveted valuable assets, especially the bountiful area of the Ukraine, the “breadbasket” of Europe. While that history has made them paranoid, its because they have been repeatedly invaded and sacked. Whether it be the Mongols of the East, the Greeks under Alexander, the French under Napoleon or the aspirations of Germany during two world wars, amongst others, the Russians have the right to suspect any encroachment.

    Rather than setting out a strong framework of what can be expected of us in terms of our dealings with Russia and the nations that border it such as the Ukraine the Obama Administration has be opaque. We don’t trust Obama so I can hardly blame Putin for putting greater stock in a serial liar than I will.

    When you don’t trust someone you resist them. And Russia has cause to not trust the feckless operation of our government and its true goals. While not allowing the same manipulated “self determination” votes that resulted in the assembly of satellites that made up the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, we should make it clear that Ukraine’s future is for its people to determine and whatever ties they wish to secure are up to them, and this should be done in such an open manner as to offer dependable, reliable comfort to both those people and Putin and the state of Russia and its people.

    If this world is truly one where we share the same air and water, depend upon the energy of the Sun as one, and all have hopes for the future for our children then its time for Obama to man up and show he can be like Ronald Reagan, a man willing to talk and listen; a man willing to strike bargains that involve trust, but also require verification. But to do that Obama, in consultation with the American people (something sadly lacking, perhaps due to Obama’s limited comprehension and intelligence) has to formulate a coherent policy on our dealings with the world. One that deals with a rising economic and military power in China, that honestly deals with a expansionist theology in the form of Islam and one that deals with stable nation states of long duration.

    I’m afraid he’s not capable of this and he has squandered his time and resources trying to permanently secure both power for his party while removing the U.S. from the world stage as a power.

    • nbamron

      excellent comment; it is very late to convince Russia of our good intentions, as we have not so far demonstrated them. I expect a big Russian military build-up, just as the US dismantles its own military.

      • nbamron, I think we are a laugh a minute to Putin. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall. Also, interesting your statement about Germany. Hadn’t thought about that. Great article, by the way. Thanks for posting it here.

    • Gatortrapper (love that handle:-), Obama is not only shallow on history, for all the tripe about being a constitutional “attorney,” “scholar,” “professor,” he is inordinately shallow to think that the people of this country don’t know enough about the constitution to protect it and to understand exactly what he is doing. With good reason I guess, because we have done an appalling job so far. As can be seen, when Obama and Putin are together, Obama feels the threat, as any man, leader of the free world or not, would who has a slight effeminant-bent and recognizes it, has probably cultivated it. Mommy-jeans, an embarrassing way with an baseball and just the way he sits a bicycle must be hilarious to Putin, who came from watching Bush in jeans, on a bike, on a b-ball field and dare we say it, Bush had a way with a chain saw. Even photoshop can’t help BO with that one. Obama keeps drawing his “lines.” That may be one of the most dangerous things he can do, to talk about his “line.” Obama hasn’t a clue how to handle this man, and this time period will go down in history as one of our most amazingly appalling, from a foreign policy and domestic policy view.

      I have a feeling that no matter what we make clear to Russian now, we will not change Putin’s direction. As Norma said, maybe NATO, but I’m doubtful there is enough energy left over for another conflict, particularly when Russia is on the other side of the line.

      Thanks for the interesting and informative comment.

      • Gatortrapper

        Thanks for the compliment. I’ve used it for years starting in “Indian Princesses” with my oldest daughter. In college now… Time passes fast.

        I realized that Obama was the Peter Sellers character Chance Gardener in “Being There” when I heard him speak the first time in an situation that wasn’t prepared or teleprompted. I graduated law school the same year and I saw my share of marginal students who struggled anytime they had to deal with the complexities of legal analysis and theory that was outside the norm, or where you had to deal with a situation where they collided. Add in a few facts and its no wonder he didn’t practice real law and only taught the “outline” form of Constitutional Law.

        Bill O’Reilly insists that he’s smart but just today I saw him and he absolutely struggled when he couldn’t use rote “sound bite” phrases or tested rhetoric. He’s got a great delivery but that’s like a baseball player who looks good in the uniform but swings the wrong end of the bat: which I’ve heard he does as a matter of preference. And while that really doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned in terms of lifestyle, it does matter to me in that the denial and suppression of it would call his character into substantial question and would make him someone not to be trusted on any level.

        • nbamron

          Ain’t it the truth? Obama is clever, but not very intelligent (and a big sissy, too). Like a trained animal, he reads his prompts and pushes in a little feeling here and there, and whammo! He’s brilliant. John Kennedy must have been Mensa.

        • O’Reilly has only come around because Obama’s agenda is so blatant and in-our-faces. O’Reilly wants to keep every option open for an interview. I must say, I thought he did a great job with Valerie Jarrett last night in telling her that Michelle Obama should come on his show, look into the camera and tell girls they should not get pregnant, that it is wrong and will ruin their lives and the life of their child. Jarrett wasn’t having any of that and seemed to mock the idea that MO would ever come on Fox.

          O’Reilly insists several things he believes are “fact.” He should spend some time explaining to his audience (as he always likes to school us) what a “fact” is. He would need a teleprompter.

          Interesting comment on “outline” form of Constitutional Law.

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