Americans love to think we run the world. We certainly have the biggest stick thanks to our bloated, runaway defense budget courtesy of the Military Industrial Complex. That stick gives other nations a lot of pause, but it doesn’t make us an omnipotent ruler. Nations don’t tremble, and kingdoms don’t shake before us.
The crisis in Ukraine has nothing to do with President Obama, or any perceived weakness on his part. In fact in terms of deliberateness and boldness President Obama is one of our stronger Presidents. Just ask Osama bin Laden, or Muammar Gaddafi. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his memoir, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, about the respect he had for President Obama’s courage in taking a “significant risk” to his Presidency in his decision to go after Bin Laden.
Violating another nation’s sovereignty, showing up their military at a major garrison, and exposing to the rest of the world that the head of a major terrorist network was right under Pakistan’s nose is pretty ballsy. Going after terrorists world-wide, raining remote controlled death from above in the form of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles isn’t the result of affability. It’s pretty fuckin’ deliberate. This is why, as Bob Cesca pointed out, the far left considers President Obama a “Muslim-hating drone-aholic”. Ethical dilemmas aside President Obama is anything but indecisive on foreign policy.
However, once again, like a Waffle House jukebox stuck on the same, tired ass song the GOP didn’t wait before they declared this entire thing President Obama’s fault.
On Sunday Senator Lindsey Graham went on CNN’s “State of the Union”, and claimed President Obama is “weak and indecisive”. Not to be outdone Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Fox News Sunday “I think Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles. It’s not even close.” And no Putin love fest would be complete without Former Governor/Unvetted Vice-Presidential Albatross/Former Reality TV Star/All-around Media Grifter Sarah “I Can See Russia from My House!” Palin. Sister Sarah topped ‘em all with her own out-of-depth analysis.
“Look, the perception of Obama, of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness,” Palin told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”
(Side Note: President Obama’s potency? Seriously, if I thought she was clever I’d equate this as a shot at President Obama’s virility, i.e. masculinity, considering the “mom jeans” crack. However this is Sarah Palin we’re talking about. Sharp wit isn’t her strong suit.)
To claim President Obama invited Putin into invading Crimea has everything to do with GOP political spin, and nothing to do with factual reality. Putin wouldn’t take a 90 minute phone call from a “weak and indecisive” leader when troops are setting up forward defense positions in Crimea.
The Russian/Ukraine crisis goes back centuries. Ukraine’s “father” Bohdan Khmelnytsky rebelled against Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1648 and founded what is considered Ukraine. He is still a controversial figure in Ukrainian history. Khmelnytsky was able to keep the gains he’d won only by becoming a vassal to the Tsar of Russia with Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654. That’s the Russian historical claim at least, which is hotly contested by Ukrainian scholars.
When you consider Imperial Russia referred to Ukraine as “Little Russia”, and took steps to eradicate Ukrainian culture through Russification which involved, in part, outlawing the Ukrainian language it’s pretty plain to see this conflict has absolutely jack shit to do with President Obama, the United States, or anyone other than Ukraine and Russia. Especially when you consider the 1917 – 1921 Ukrainian War of Independence, millions of deaths during the “Holodomor”, the man-made famine, thanks to Soviet Collectivization, the Declaration of Ukrainian Independence, 1941, Nikita Khrushchev’s “gift” of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, and the Chernobyl disaster. I could list more examples but entire books have been written, national movements formed, and revolutions started over the issue of Ukraine’s Independence.
I spent a semester in a graduate seminar that covered the historical conflict between Ukraine and Russia, so I’m hardly an expert. However I’ve seen very little in the way of substance put forth from the American mainstream media. Everything seems to center around what the US is or isn’t doing. This is a simplistic and frankly narcissistic way of looking at the world. That nations move only with our say so, or let go of centuries long tensions because our mainstream media can’t deliver anything beyond a shallow, black-and-white, two dimensional analysis is absurdly delusional.
The best take I’ve seen on the modern political situation has been from TPM’s Josh Marshall:
“Much as people carp about the insufficiency of President Obama’s response, the entirety of this crisis is governed by the fact that the US has no viable military options and Russia does. (A good example for the United States of why it is important to cultivate sources of strength other than purely military ones.) We know that; Putin knows that. It is difficult to overstate the ease with which Russia can take possession of the Crimean Peninsula since, in effect, it already has possession. It’s the home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. And the peninsula is riddled with Russian military installations, as part of an uneasy post-Soviet accommodation in which Ukraine leases Soviet-era bases to Russia.”
While it’s somewhat of a fantasy that political partisanship ends at “the water’s edge” when it comes to foreign policy the vitriol and naked opportunism shown by the GOP in criticizing the President is revolting. If Sen. Graham wants to know who is making America appear to be “weak and indecisive” it isn’t President Obama. The reflexive stupidity, whether feigned or genuine, shown by Republican leaders, and the mainstream media, makes the US look like a parochial power. As Oliver Willis noted the days of Bush’s Neo-Conservative “Cowboy Diplomacy” are over and good fuckin’ riddance to them!
The United States is the last remaining super power, and if we want to be anything beyond a brute with a big ass brick, we need leaders and a mainstream media with the ability to critically think before opening their mouths. We need serious people, not simpletons. We need scholarly not stupidity. We need anything but what we’re currently getting from the GOP, and their mainstream media enablers.