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Don Roach: Obama Loses Showdown with Putin

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


There’s really no way to put it.

Last Friday, President Obama told Russia that “there will be costs” to any Russian military intervention in the Crimean region of the Ukraine. If you are unaware, Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, was recently removed from his position as a result of significant political unrest in the country. Not only that, an arrest warrant was issued for Yanukovych over the recent deaths of Ukrainian protesters.

Much of the political unrest in Ukraine, to make a long story short, stems from Yanukovych’s November 2013 decision to step away from talks that would strengthen ties between Ukraine and the European Union. Afterwards, Ukrainians took to the streets in displeasure over the move. Fast forward a few months, Yanukovych was out and Obama told Russia not to move into the Ukraine or face the consequences. So how did Russia respond?

One day after Obama told Russia to stay out of Ukraine, Russia sent 16,000 troops to Ukraine.

Let me repeat and format that sentence for effect.

One day after Obama told Russia to stay out of Ukraine, Russia sent 16,000 troops to Ukraine.

Has the United States become a paper tiger?

I understand that for decade Russia and the US were embroiled in a Cold War. I get that, but I also get that that Cold War should have ended back in what, 1989? I also recall an America that was a leader on the world stage who could speak and people would at least pause before acting.

Not so with Obama’s latest tough talk. Instead, Russia made moves to protect its interests in Ukraine. I don’t care what Putin says about why he’s moved troops into Ukraine, it’s all about Russia and nothing about what the Ukrainian people want. The Ukrainian people wanted stronger ties with the EU and Ukraine’s Parliament booted ex-President Yanukovych because of the fallout that resulted when he took those ties off the table.

But what is bothersome to me is how little power it appears our “big stick” has in the world. Prior to Russia moving into Crimea there was no Obama-Putin conversation (that happened afterwards) and what’s more Obama’s talk polarized his position.

If you say there will be costs if you move into Crimea, now that Russia has done just that, there must be costs to the Russians.

And no, I don’t believe boycotting the G8 summit constitutes as “costs”? If our answer to military action is to simply not talk no, doesn’t that sound more like someone who’d move troops to Iraq than the guy who promised “change we can believe in”?

When I first saw Obama’s comments, I thought they were some of the most idiotic and reckless comments he’s made. No, I’m not sitting in the war room discussing diplomacy on a daily basis but I have negotiated with people before. They usually tell you not to put a threat out there unless you’re willing to back it up.

Putin called Obama’s bluff. And America shot back with a boycott.

I guess this is what diplomacy looks like in the Obama administration. 2016 can’t come soon enough!

Don can be reached at [email protected] . You can also follow Don on Twitter at @donroach34.


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So were supposed to put boots on the ground in Russia's historical hegemony? Trying to bring on Armageddon?

Comment #1 by bill bentley on 2014 03 05

Exactly the opposite! Don't threaten Armageddon in the first place. Obama should not have been so black and white if Russia went in if he wasn't going to back it up.

He put himself in a corner and he didn't have to do that.

Comment #2 by Donn Roach on 2014 03 05

So, I guess you want Obama to be an imperial President and do something without the consent of Congress? So now it's OK for the President to act on his own without consulting Congress? So, can I get a checklist of what situations are OK for the President to act without the permission of Congress and when he's being a dictator if he does that? It's hard for me to keep track of the hypocrisy.

Comment #3 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 05

Obama completely misread Russian politics and intentions. face it, even the democrats admit it.

I guess when I think of diplomacy , I think of 2 world leaders that mutually respect each other and have thoughtful discussion and each shows its strengths but doesn't have to use them. and they try to get the best of each other.

Obama respects no one that disagrees with him. and he has even less respect for anyone that tells him he doesn't have the ability to do something. so he really can't negotiate. Kerry is fixated on isreal , a problem that is decades old.
bucking for his nobel rpize.

putin is still living in the days of the cold war. he never left. you have to realize the cold war is still deeply embedded in the minds of many russians that were in the military during the cold war. this man is no gorbachev.

Comment #4 by john paycheck on 2014 03 05

"You want Obama to do something without the consent of Congress"....He issues PLENTY of "Executive Orders" without the consent of Congress, almost daily. He attacked Lybia and almost got us into Syria without the "consent" of Congress. He draws "red lines" in the sand without the consent of Congress. Suddenly, according to the lefty barking seals who
have a justification for his every screw up Obama is evah' so concerned about what Congress. I doubt that rationalization will impress even the standard issue dumbocrat NO information voter very much.

Comment #5 by G Godot on 2014 03 05

2 PROMINENT REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVE opponents of the U.S.A gay-rights announced formation of a coalition that will seek to persuade more countries around the world to follow Russia's example in passing laws that restrict gay rights.
The activists, evangelical lawyer Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera praised 2 recent Russian laws that have been assailed by good folks worldwide. "the Russians have demonstrated the high value that they place on the natural family model of society," the Coalition for Family Values said. They believe that God will bless Vladimir Putin for his faith and courage....LOL
Lively and LaBarbera said the new coalition will encourage allies abroad to lobby their own governments to follow Russia's example.

Among the groups supporting the coalition were Lively's Defend the Family, the American Family Association the prominent Rev. Fred Phelps of the conservative Westboro Baptist Church, and many Republicans nationwide
Sammy in Arizona

The GOP is full of anti-Obama rubes and loony Pea-Party birther cranks who don't know what to do about Russia but are certain the president is doing it all wrong.

While most intelligent folks realize that a President Obama, Romney or McCain would have faced the same limited set of choices to Putin's reckless aggression.

Comment #6 by Sammy Arizona on 2014 03 05

I don't think anyone with an iota of common sense or knowledge of geography is suggesting a US "boots on the ground"or any other military response.
This situation is the result of a longstanding set of problems between Russia and Ukraine and Russia's history in the Crimea.It isn't really in our national interest to interfere directly.
However, the problem is that Putin made the move he did because he perceives Obama to be a ditherer who can be backed down quite easily.
Obama went after the Gaddafi regime with armed force because he knew he could get away with it-we had easy access from the Mediterranean and Gaddafi's armed forces were a joke-he had some B-movie female bodyguards and an army that was only fir for oppressing civilians.
then came Syria.Different story-syri had some heavy duty chemical weapons;Iranian/Russian/Chinese backing;a capable army and air power;and Obama had no green light from Congress-but he drew a 'red line"that might as well have been made of lipstick for all it was worth.The Syrian army is still perpetrating horrors.Maybe not with nerve gas,but that matters little to the dead.
Putin is a hardened former KGB operator and quite frankly a thug with nukes.Obama is a community organizer/academic-who wins that matchup?
The danger from this situation is that Putin has already tested the waters vis a vis putting Russian military bases in Cuba,Nicaragua,and Venezuela.What will Obama do then when our national interest is directly at stake?Go golfing?Ride his Pee Wee Herman bike on the Vineyard?Putin must be certain Obama will wilt yet again no matter what he does.
Obama's lack of mettle and indecisive posturing have brought this on to some degree.

Comment #7 by Joseph Bernstein on 2014 03 05

I think the geo-political point is lost here. There is no way Russia is giving up its warm water port; and especially not to western powers. This is the same situation as Georgia but with bigger stakes for Russia. So, unless we are prepared to put boots on the ground, Russia will and is calling the shots. I think Merkel from germany has a sound approach. Russia will need assurances that whatever government is installed in the Ukraine that its warm water port is secure. Historically, Russia has had that port since the 18th century.

Comment #8 by bill bentley on 2014 03 05

G Gadot you're a total idiot. Seriously. Do you have any clue how insipid you are? I doubt it. Let me explain it to you. Every time Obama issues an executive order, you idiots yell and scream about it. You scream that he's an imperial president and acts like a king. Now you same morons are screaming because he's not taking it upon himself to "do something". That's why you people are hypocrites and idiots. All you want to do is hate him and everything he does. It doesn't matter that you're being a two-faced hypocrite while you do it. Your hatred of him ends up making you look like the true idiot you are. Are you even too stupid to see that?

Comment #9 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 06

Phil--thanks for the fact free, emotional rant. I'm thinking you make G look good....

Comment #10 by Jimmy LaRouche on 2014 03 06

bill bentley - You hit the nail on the head. There is no way Presdent Putin will allow Russia's navy base to fall into "western" hands. Russia does have a lease on the property until 2040 or something like that, but he's not taking chances. President Putin is protecting the assets of his country. Something resident Obama failed to do in Bengazi.
Remember President Putin was a cold war spy and soldier, he doesn't back down. Our President was a community organizer. Kinda like having a rabbit and a pit bull battle it out.

Comment #11 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 06

Wuggly Ump-I seriously Obama has ever been in a fist fight.Putin has probably killed a number of people given his former job.The pit bull/rabbit analogy was pretty good.

Comment #12 by Joseph Bernstein on 2014 03 06

How's life in mommy's basement Philbaby. Is it on the bus line to the welfare office.... lucky you. I don't like Obungler much, he apparently doesn't like the US much.

Comment #13 by G Godot on 2014 03 06

Good one G. Actually I have a very good job that pays well. I also have an education, something I believe you seriously lack given that you can't in fact reconcile the notion that you don't want Obama to be an imperial President and act on his own like a king would, yet somehow you want him to do something about Putin all on his own without working with Congress or allowing Congress to do their job. Since you're such a genius, why don't you tell us exactly what Obama should be doing about this. Be careful now because we'll keep this in mind for the next time you raise your hypocritical head and complain because he does exactly what you suggest he should do this time.

Comment #14 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 07

Oh and Jimmy... maybe you'd care to chime in and help Gadot out. What exactly would you do? I know it's easier to sit back, wait for Obama to do something (or not), then bitch about his decision, but why don't you show us how it's done. Tell us exactly what you would do in this situation, all things being equal.

Comment #15 by Phil Paulson on 2014 03 07

Joseph Bernstein - I'm glad you liked the analogy, and I agree there are more than a few people not breathing as a direct result of President Putin.

For those that need it spelled out, we're not talking battlefield, more like assassinations and executions not just ordered by him, but by his hands up close and personal.

Comment #16 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 07

Phil Paulson - resident Obama can't do anything about Putin. My biggest fear is he will try with half measures.

We saw the way Obama acted when Americans were attacked in Benghazi, blaming the whole thing on a YouTube video, Mr. Nakoula is still in jail We've seen his contempt of the military with the closing of open air National Monuments. The murder of Brian Terry and the many unanswered questions and the way his AG Eric Holder danced around questions from congress. Defining the Ft. Hood shooting as "workplace violence". The cold shoulder to our allies Germany, Great Britain, Israel and others leading to the breakdown of NATO. Summed up as a failure to lead.

We've seen it and so has Mr. Putin. Again Putin isn't going to give up Russia's Atlantic Ocean access, and I don't doubt he's willing to put all of his his military resources to the task.

Comment #17 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 07

Just for the record, Obama has smoked a lot of mid-eastern and African jockeys in his presidency. Just saying; he may not use Plutonium but he has the attention of the Taliban and other groups.

Comment #18 by bill bentley on 2014 03 07

The only thing Obama has smoked is weed.Putin was a KGB operational officer,in other words,he murdered people.Most national leaders don't have that experience.Obama has ordered plenty of assassinations-mainly by drone,but probably by other means also.Putin is as ruthless and tough as any national leader today.Obama is a ditherer-it's due to his work background.Law instructors and community organizers don't have to make hard decisions under pressure.and don't get me started on his Illinois Senate career-"present"was his usual vote in a chamber of under achievers to begin with.I lived in that miserable state for 8 years so I know whereof I speak.

Comment #19 by Joseph Bernstein on 2014 03 07

bill bentley - I'll give you resident Obama was in charge when battles happened and yes, he gave final orders to neutralize targets. I don't get the feeling his heart was in it. It seems, to me at least, him playing politics. I don't think he would have given the order to take OBL if he had been in his second term.
Obama doesn't lead the Country, he campaigns for his agenda to his followers.

Comment #20 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 08

After we and the EU "give that Putin what's for" with about 7 BILLION in dough we don't have as aid to the rump portion of the Ukraine - now that the other half has bailed - Putin will say "Thanks very much" and move in for the rest, including any infrastructure improvements which may have been accomplished with the part of OUR borrowed dime which graft and corruption didn't divert. Ya see, Russia gets lots of dough, AND political power from the GAS they sell to heat and power western Europe, and the GAS LINE runs through the part of the Ukraine Putin doesn't have.....YET. The Europeans, BTW like cheap natural gas and DON'T want a sudden disruption in the middle of winter, something Putin is entirely capable of doing at the drop of a Russian hat.

Comment #21 by G Godot on 2014 03 08

G Godot - You make a great point about Europe. Putin doesn't need the pipelines as much as Europe needs the natural gas.

Comment #22 by Wuggly Ump on 2014 03 10

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