Russia on the march: 10 reasons Putin is likely to invade eastern Ukraine

March 30, 2014
"I won"

“Can’t touch this.”

There’s a good article by Michael Weiss giving a list of reasons why Russia’s Vladimir Putin is probably going to make a move soon to take over Ukraine’s largely ethnic-Russian eastern regions. It’s well-worth reading; Weiss covers the realities of power, political considerations, and Russian military movements (1). He also brings up a motive that’s psychological, but I think it fits. Let’s see what you think:

2. Putin enjoys embarrassing the United States, and especially its current commander-in-chief.

On Feb. 28, Obama warned that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” — before high-tailing it to a Democratic National Committee cocktail party at the Washington Hilton. The next day, the world awoke to a Russian invasion of Crimea. “Rarely has a threat from a U.S. president been dismissed as quickly — and comprehensively — as Obama’s warning on Friday night,” the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson reported. And let’s look at the laundry list of American desires and warnings the Kremlin has brushed aside: Russia has dramatically increased its arms transfers to Syria since the chemical disarmament deal was struck last fall. It continues to host fugitive NSA spy Edward Snowden. And during the midst of the Maidan protests, Russia’s own spies intercepted a phone call between a top U.S. State Department official and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, then leaked the contents of it to Kremlin-controlled media. Moreover, neither Putin nor his inner circle seem terribly aggravated by the current suite of U.S. or EU sanctions or the blockbuster admission by the Treasury Department that Putin — now a staunch patriotic proponent of the “de-offshoreization” of the Russian economy — personally controls assets in Swiss oil commodities giant Gunvor.

While I would never argue that psychological motives are paramount –Putin’s too much of a power realist to fool himself with petty self-gratifications– I’m sure they’re there. Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB officer, trained to be brutal when necessary. His goals are those of every Russian ruler since the Mongols were driven out: seeking the security of Russia by dominating the states around her and keeping powerful foes at a distance. In America, he sees a nation in short-term decline, creating an opportunity for him to advance those goals. In Obama, he sees a weak, out of his depth, would-be academic beta-male whom he, Vladimir Putin, almost a caricature of the alpha-male, can intimidate to seize that opportunity.

In short, Putin sees Obama as his [you fill in the word] and loves showing that to the world.

You can bet he plans to enjoy that feeling again, soon.

Footnote:
(1) They’re deploying field hospitals. That’s a significant sign it itself.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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The neverending jihad

July 13, 2010

In Russia, authorities broke up a gang of female suicide bombers who were about to go into action:

Russian security services have broken up what they described as a terrorist cell in a Muslim region of the country that was preparing female suicide bombers for attacks on major Russian cities, officials announced on Monday.

They said six women had been arrested who had already written “farewell letters” as they were being prepared for deployment. But the officials did not disclose whether attacks were imminent, or any other details about planning.

Two men were also arrested, including one said to have played a role in attacks by two female suicide bombers on two subway stations in Moscow in March, which killed 40 people.

This is a war that began in the 7th century and, while there have been periods of quiet, it has never really ended.

(via Gabriel Malor)


Didn’t we used to be the Americans?

June 20, 2010

I must be confused. First, the French lecture us about toughness in foreign affairs. Then the Germans make us look like spendthrifts. Now even the Russians understand better than we how low taxes create prosperity:

Russia to drop capital gains tax to attract investment

Russia will scrap capital gains tax on long-term direct investment from 2011, President Dmitry Medvedev has said. Mr Medvedev said that in terms of improving Russia’s investment climate “we, I hope, are moving forward”. … Its oil revenues fund, which has been financing the deficit, is expected to end next year, and the government wants to attract more foreign investment to boost the economy.

Meanwhile, our tax environment is set up to do everything it can to drive businesses out of the country, and many states such as California make it worse.

Who are we again?

Via Dan Mitchell, who explains why there should be no cap-gains tax:

RELATED: German Chancellor Merkel say her government and the EU will end stimulus programs and focus on debt. The world really has turned upside down.


Terror in Russia

March 29, 2010

Two blasts rip through the Moscow subway system, one near the infamous Lubyanka prison:

Explosions tore through two subway stations at rush hour on Monday, killing at least 37 people and wounding others, authorities and news agencies said.

The first blast came just before 8 a.m. at Lubyanka station, the Emergencies Ministry said. The headquarters of the Federal Security Service, successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is just above the station.

“The blast hit the second carriage of a Metro train that stopped at Lubyanka” at 7:56 a.m., ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said. The victims were inside the carriage and on the platform, she said.

About 45 minutes later, a second explosion rocked the Park Kultury station, authorities said.

Police spokesman Viktor Biryukov told the Associated Press that at least 12 people were killed in the second blast, which occurred at 8:38 a.m.

Terrorism was suspected in both incidents.

No, really?

To be blunt, I’ve been no admirer of how the Russians have handled their own jihadist insurgency in Chechnya and the surrounding Caucasus region. In fact, the Russian Army and related security forces have acted like barbarians, little better than the enemy they’re fighting. Brutality, rape, and murder have been their tools, and one hopes in vain for the day when these savages are prosecuted.

But that does not excuse attacks on civilian Russian targets by the jihadists, and while the Russians often show the darkest side of Western civilization, the mujaheddin are utterly antithetical to it – and in a ruthless calculation of self-interest constitute a greater long-term threat.  Assuming jihadists carried out this threat, here’s wishing the Russians good hunting in bringing them to bay.

(Just try not to live down to your reputations while doing it, okay?)


Smart Power: How to lose friends and influence no one

March 28, 2010

In the nearly 15 months since Barack Obama was inaugurated as President and Hillary Clinton installed as his Secretary of State, our Smart Power team has done something I thought impossible: make me yearn for the days of Jimmy Carter as a model of a strong and effective foreign policy. Consider three recent items:

First, he has managed to do almost certainly fatal damage to our “special relationship” with Great Britain, an alliance forged between FDR and Winston Churchill in crucible of the Second World War. After that, the two nations cooperated closely in the Cold War against Soviet communist aggression, operating hand-in-glove whether the governments in Washington and London were Democrat or Republican, Labour or Conservative. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the welcome death of the USSR, America and Britain have continued to work together, even to the point war.

No more. The special relationship is dead, and Obama and Clinton own the corpse:

BRITAIN’S special relationship with the US — forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war — no longer exists, says a committee of influential MPs.

Instead, America’s relationship with Britain is no more special than with its other main allies, according to a report by the Commons foreign affairs committee published today.

The report also warns that the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America’s “subservient poodle” has been highly damaging to Britain’s reputation and interests around the world. The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be “willing to say no” to America.

Gosh, I’m not sure why they would conclude that, after the respect Obama has shown for the UK, such as returning a bust of Churchill loaned by London as a show of solidarity after 9/11, or insulting Prime Minister Brown and the Queen with gifts from the Wal-Mart bargain bin. I mean, why should they be bothered by his failure to acknowledge the sacrifice made by British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or other acts of deliberate rudeness? And why should Whitehall care that Secretary Clinton is willing to negotiate the status of sovereign British territory? Nial Gardiner implores Conservative leader David Cameron to do all he can to preserve the relationship, but, really, what is Britain to do when Obama repeatedly spits in her eye?

Special Relationship, we hardly knew ye.

Then we come to something just appalling. Regardless of what one thinks of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel is a close ally of the United States, until recently the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, and certainly one of the most humane and ethical nations on the planet. Thus for the President of the United States to treat the Prime Minister of Israel as a recalcitrant child beggars belief:

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.

Translation: Obama says to Netanyahu, “You just think about that young man, and you’d better have a different answer when I get back, or there will be no TV for you!” It reminds one of the rumors of his bizarre behavior in Copenhagen and calls into question his vaunted judgment and even his maturity. Israel is a key ally in our war with jihadist Islam and for the furtherance of Western interests in the region, in general. And yet, time and again, Obama and Clinton have gone out of their way to turn minor incidents into causes celebres requiring the public pillorying of Israel and to put it on the same moral level as the despotisms that surround it. (More at Legal Insurrection, Fausta’s blog, Hot Air, the Telegraph, Contentions, and The Jawa Report)

This is “smart power?”  Raised Eyebrow

Finally, what can be said but Russia skunked us?

Face it. The only conclusion one can draw from these and other blunders is that we are lead by callow and incompetent (and even delusional) leaders. Their conduct of American foreign policy has been a disgrace.

The only question is whether this mangling of American interests is unwitting or the fruit of deliberate choice.

You can guess my answer.  Doh

ADDENDUM: At least Obama and Clinton have created a bipartisan consensus on their policy toward Israel – both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats hate it.


Quote of the day

October 16, 2009

Charles Krauthammer on the Obama Administration’s pathetic conduct of foreign affairs:

Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.

No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and “reset” buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naivete, inside credulity. In short, the very stuff of Nobels.

It’s a stinging indictment based on the revelation during Secretary of State Clinton’s trip to Moscow this week that the Administration truly got nothing from Moscow in return for backstabbing Eastern Europe over missile defense – nothing, that is, other than a humiliating slap in the face.

And why anyone seriously thinks Hillary is more qualified than Obama is beyond me, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs. During the campaign, she looked accomplished only by comparison to the utter naif who eventually beat her to the nomination. Considered on her own… Well, her performance since taking office says all that’s needed.

Our nation’s foreign policy is in the hands of New Left, neo-McGovernite incompetents who would make Henry Wallace proud. It’s going to be a long few years until 2012, and I only hope disaster doesn’t strike in the meantime.

Nailbiting