March 4 2014
President Obama has just said that Vladimir Putin “isn’t fooling anybody.” Well, not anybody besides our president, who said this:
“President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations but I don’t think that is fooling anybody,” Obama said.
President Obama, Vladimir Putin is not overly concerned with international law. He has oligarchs, not lawyers. Mr. President, your statement sounds like what the skinny kid on the play ground says when he's just been wallopped by a bully.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry, on the ground in Kiev, said that Putin is “out of excuses, hiding its hand behind falsehoods, intimidations and provocations.”
Our Secretary of Bluster continued that Putin has been searching "unsuccessfully" for a pretext for his actions.
It’s true that Putin offers up pretexts—and it's just as true that he knows they are flimsy and probably doesn’t care. Putin has a goal. He has a will.
The Secretary of State said that, if Putin wants to protect Russian speakers in the Ukraine (one of his pretexts), he should talk directly to the interim Ukrainian government. But Putin doesn't want to make a case to the interim government. He has other plans. He wouldn't mind expanding into the Ukraine--with its nice warm water port--regardless of what language is spoken there. He'll talk to the interim government like the wolf talked to the children in the fairy tale.
Senator Lindsey Graham made a good point about the president’s much ballyhooed 90 minute phone call with Putin: it should have been a five minute phone call in which President Obama was firm about what the U.S. intends to do. (Also see Power Line on the Obama-Putin phone call.) Graham said:
President Barack Obama should "stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators," because "it's not his strong suit," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday.
“Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody's eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression. President Obama needs to do something. …
But, honestly, I doubt if he knows what to do. The tragedy we are seeing was inevitable: when voters fall in love, they do foolish things. President Obama was always more a dream than anything else. He was not a student of foreign policy or even the Constitution. He was a cult figure, a pop icon, not a mere politician.
Peter Wehner has a somber piece charting the president’s devolution from the heady days of the 2008 campaign to the present. He was still arrogant in 2012:
After all, he understood things the rest of us did not. And if you didn’t accept his view of the world, you weren’t simply mistaken; you were an ideologue, a hyper-partisan, a dullard, perhaps a fool, and/or someone whose thinking belonged to bygone era. Watch the contemptuous way the president dismissed Mitt Romney in a presidential debate on the topic of Russia — despite the fact that events have proven Romney right and Obama wrong.
I’ve already called your attention to Walter Russell Mead’s article on how our cocooned foreign policy elites in Washington, D.C., think thugs and despots around the world are reflections of their own enlightened selves.
There is no military option for the U.S. in the current situation. But there are plenty of financial steps we could take—but to do these things, the president would have to understand what is going on in the world.
P. S. Bret Stephens has a good piece on why this president has been so feckless with regard to foreign policy.