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View Diary: Why did Obama let this happen, and other questions on Ukraine (313 comments)

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  •  Well, I've argued with a couple of (6+ / 0-)

    intelligence "experts" who firmly believe that the weakness we allegedly showed in Syria led directly to Putin daring to invade Ukraine.

    It's one of those unproveable things which should apparently be obvious if only one is sufficiently "expert."

    "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

    by jrooth on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:46:11 AM PST

    •  People are being killed!!!! We must act! (6+ / 0-)

      Otherwise we are just a weak, shiftless bunch of bums.

      I'll be you our veterans just back from a gazillion tours of Iraq and Afghanistan are just itching to for a Russian Winter!

      •  Well, I do think we need to respond. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        middleagedhousewife, erratic

        Just not militarily. Boot Russia out of the G8 & WTO. Freeze assets. Revoke visas of diplomatic family members & representatives of government or industry.  That kind of stuff. And of course promise to quickly roll all that back if they back out.

        The idea has to be to convince Putin the economic cost will be truly devastating if he keeps going - because if he invades the rest of Ukraine this is going to get very bloody very fast.

        (And yes I know our own history of ignoring sovereignty and invading whom we want whenever we want doesn't give us the greatest moral standing - but that seems to me to be insufficient reason to throw up our hands and say it's not our problem.)

        "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

        by jrooth on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:03:36 AM PST

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      •  HUGE Failure of American foreign policy (5+ / 0-)

        And not in the way you guys think.

        The whole discourse seems to be: a) Putin is bad and b) so let’s come up with the sickest way to punish him.  Let’s bomb, or maybe destroy his currency, or whatever.
        This is not AT ALL how it looks from the inside.  Simply put, Putin is the ONLY world leader who currently stepped in to protect Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine.   What do you think, they are stupid?  It’s just no one else is hearing their pleas!

        You have to understand that when you say Bandera in Lvov, you hear ‘Hero.’  When you say it in Odessa, you hear ‘pogrom.’  On the guttural level, South and East of Ukraine cannot stand the new Ukrainian government.  I have talked to several people over the weekend, some in Odessa, some in Kharkov, some in Kiev (I am from Odessa myself), and EVERYONE referred to new government as Bandits.  

        The most amazing to me was the lady from Kiev that was absolutely livid with Tymoshenko, who she accused of being almost as corrupt as Yanukovich.  She also contemplated that Ukraine is still better off with Russia, because Europe only wants us “to wash toilets for cheap.”

        Western leaders need to be more mindful of the half of Ukrainian population, AND propose some concrete steps.  Maybe inclusion of some Party of Regions people into Government.  Maybe exclusion neo-Nazis from the Government.  Maybe put up for referendum both EU agreement and Russian Trade agreement.  Maybe devolve some of the powers from Kiev to the regions.

        The bottom line is that current policy just reinforces the line “Putin is being punished for helping us, so let’s stick even closer to him.”  What you want is to show other way.

        •  I agree with much of this. (1+ / 0-)
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          But I still think it's essential to convince Putin to stop (and then to back away.) At that point everything you list should be on the table. But the first order of business has to be to try to prevent this from devolving into all-out war.

          "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

          by jrooth on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:41:30 AM PST

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          •  There is ZERO chance of all out war (4+ / 0-)

            Or even limited one.
            Did you notice that NOT A SINGLE SHOT was fired when Crimea was taken over?  

            Simply put, for a whole host of historical, cultural, etc. reasons, Russian army will not fire the first shot.  

            Also, again, this whole thing is making him popularity go through the roof.  Every Russian speaking person in any former Soviet republic is quietly rooting for him.  Not to mention Russia.

            And also the guy is smart and playing a long game.  He knows full well that he has to last months, if not weeks.  As soon as the next shiny object will appear on the horizon, the West will move on.

            •  Putin is effectively dictator for life. Back in (0+ / 0-)

              the 1930's the consensus was that democracies were all failures including the US.
              Putin is trying to turn the clock back. You can't get much dumber than that.

            •  That's for sure. No way Western minds focus on (0+ / 0-)

              anything for more than a month or two. Hell, here in the U.S., there's social programs to cut!

            •  Crimea is one thing ... east Ukraine another. (1+ / 0-)
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              The Ukrainians have showed excellent restraint so far, but partly that's a matter of the relatively few forces in Crimea being completely unprepared for this invasion and too weak to mount a credible defense.

              If the Russians cross into eastern Ukraine it's going to be a different story.  I don't think they have anything like the capability to defeat a Russian invasion, but being forewarned they do have the capacity to put up a serious fight.

              There was a good piece by a pair of former US ambassadors to Ukraine about this - I'll see if I can find it.

              "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

              by jrooth on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:43:48 AM PST

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          •  Putin is trying to stop war in Ukraine (0+ / 0-)

            Putin's show of force gave the Crimeans the opportunity to calmly stand up the the U.S. supported neo-NAZIs that overthrew a democratically elected leader in Kiev.  I suspected that the riots were CIA inspired regime change.  I was close, but recently learned that it was an organization formed by a former CIA director that is responsible - not much difference.  Furthermore, Obama and Putin have an understanding that goes above the U.S. State Department. Maybe Obama should purge the neocons out of the government, but right now, he is doing only what he thinks he can do.

        •  Elections (0+ / 0-)

          I doubt the US has so much influence it can dictate which parties are and are not involved in the transitional government.

          The Ukrainian people should have been focused on the May elections so they can decide who they trust. Instead the Russians have come in and impose themselves.

    •  Obama gets what he wanted w/o firing a shot... (5+ / 0-)

      just with some threats and preparation, and his critics conclude that he was wrong not to fire the shot anyway.

      Well that's just freaking brilliant.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:51:26 AM PST

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    •  what about our strength in Iraq/Afghanistan? (1+ / 0-)
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      Why is Syria the only reference point Putin is using? We invaded Iraq a decade after they'd been neutered. Why doesn't he think the same thing will happen again?

      Don't fuck with us, man. We are crazy!

      •  Yeah, I brought that up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and the reply was essentially "that was Bush, this is Obama." To which I replied then how do you explain South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Didn't really get an answer beyond "that was different" (presumably again is some way which would be obvious if only I were sufficiently "expert")

        "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

        by jrooth on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:34:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  their minds don't work like ours (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jrooth, JourneyInside

          Which, incidentally, is what makes them sure they're "experts". The fact that regular people can't see at all what they see so clearly is proof-positive that they are geniuses.

          They are using inductive reasoning. They start with the conclusion: Putin sending soldiers to Crimea is evidence that Obama is weak. Once they have that, all they need is to cherry pick to support their conclusion and presto, they're ready to appear on Fox News.

          There's nothing to do to convince them. They wont use deductive reasoning because as soon as they start it becomes clear that they can never get to the correct conclusion.

      •  Putin isn't using Syria as a reference point (1+ / 0-)
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        Eternal critics of Obama are. If Obama had bombed Syria back into the stone age, they would be saying his actions in Syria caused Putin to annex Crimea because Obama showed he couldn't be reasoned with.

        There's only one consistent theme with these critics: anything the Obama administration does (or doesn't do) is wrong.

    •  run the counterfactual, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      let's say the U.S. had bombed Syria.  That doesn't make it any more possible that the U.S. has the ability to do whatever the fuck in Crimea.  

      The lesson there is Putin failed to learn from the last time he overreached.  

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:23:00 AM PST

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    •  Weakness in Syria????? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan adequately displayed our weakness.

    •  Voodoo Kremlinology (1+ / 0-)
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      Right wingers think we can intimidate Russia into doing (or not doing) what we want by talking tough.  I have my doubts.

      Let's start by assuming that Putin is reasonably rational; not to say perfect, but rather motivated by things we can analyze like gain and loss.  What does Putin want in this situation? What does he fear? Given this, how would our words and actions affect his perception of the risks and rewards?  

      Ukraine is the linchpin in Putin's plan to create a counterweight to NATO and the EU, which he perceives as threatening to Russia's security.  So by intervening in Ukraine he not only preserves his ability to create a competing alliance, he prevents a hostile alliance from gaining a foothold on his borders.

      Geographically, the Crimea abuts the Straight of Kerch, between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.  The Sea of Azov is connected by the Volga-Don Canal to the Caspian and via the Volga to over half of Russia's twenty largest cities. So any maritime traffic between the Russian heartland and the Mediterranean and beyond has to pass through the Straights of Kerch.  Having a hostile Europe in charge of half of the there is not good for Russian paranoia.  In a crisis, Russian civilian and military traffic could be bottled up in the Sea of Azov by a single well-defended gun emplacement.  This, while Putin is making substantial outlays to reestablish Russia as a maritime power by adding 75 ships the Russian Navy.

      So given what is at stake for Putin, how likely is it he'd be intimidated by an threats of US force right on his doorstep?

      A successful action against Syria would be a major blow to Putin's prestige and the prestige of the Russian military because of Syria's reliance on Russian military hardware. But the result wouldn't be that Putin rolls over and plays dead. On the contrary he'd get more belligerent to counter the domestic perception of weakness, knowing full well that an attack against Russia on Russia's doorstep would be much more costly.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:42:02 AM PST

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