WASHINGTON, March 2, 2014 — Russia has decided to invade Ukraine. And President Obama brought a cupcake to a gunfight.
After the people of Ukraine deposed their pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, Moscow was not pleased. Now Russian troops have taken control of Crimea, and Ukraine may well be partitioned.
The White House reports that Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity … [and] breach of international law.” He asked the Russian president to pull Russian forces spreading across Crimea back to their Ukrainian bases, according to a White House statement.
Obama warned that Russia’s failure to comply will result in suspension of U.S. participation in planning for the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for June. The administration threatens “greater political and economic isolation,” including the expulsion of Russia from the G8.
When Russian troops invaded, Obama called it an “uncontested arrival.” Comments like that speak to the level of seriousness he brings to the Oval Office.
Putin’s response to it all was delivered in a prepared statement: “In the case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”
There are furious demands that Obama do something. What he might do does not concern Putin. The better cry would be for Obama to do nothing. If he does nothing, at least he can’t screw that up.
His options are limited. There is the nuclear option — the literal nuclear option. We have a few thousand nuclear warheads which we could send flying towards Mother Russia. Putin would of course respond and China would have unquestioned control of what is left of the world.
America could try to land forces in Ukraine to help Ukrainians but where would we get those forces? The military has been gutted to the point where this nation can no longer project power.
This is not projecting power into Afghanistan, Iraq or even into the Horn of Africa. This is projecting power right into Vladimir Putin’s back yard. Russia still maintains one of the world’s largest and best equipped militaries.
Most Americans have little appetite for another war, and certainly not one with Russia.
Obama could call for economic sanctions against Russia. One problem with that is that Europe gets a great deal of its energy from Russia. If Obama tries to lead with sanctions, he’ll find himself leading an army of one (not much different than the army envisioned by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel).
America’s closest ally since Word War 2 has been Great Britain. That was before Obama. After the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush reached out to Britain, and Prime Minister Tony Blair joined him in the global war on terror.
Today there is no relationship to call on. One of the first things Obama did after his inauguration was send back to England the symbolic bust of Winston Churchill that resided in the Oval Office. The first time he met Queen Elizabeth as president, his idea of a state gift was to give her an iPod with a collection of his speeches. There is also the fact that a lot of Russian money has left Russia and is in Britain. The British have no reason to help Obama, and a lot of reasons not to.
East European countries are even less likely to help. Poland was stabbed in the back early by Obama; after they had gone out of their way to accept an American missile defense base, Obama shut it down. If Putin succeeds in Ukraine, he will have demonstrated the impotence of NATO, a lesson that won’t be lost on Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, the Baltic states, and every other nation formerly in or dominated by the Soviet Union. They won’t risk irritating Russia to help the feckless Obama.
Obama’s policies in the Middle East have been such a disaster that the Saudis, traditionally one of America’s stronger allies in the region, are turning to Moscow and are thinking about building their own nuclear program to counter the Iranian nuclear program that Obama seems so determined to allow to continue.
During the presidential campaign of 2012, Mitt Romney warned about the Russians. During one of the presidential debates, Obama derisively told Mitt Romney, “The 1980’s called. They want their foreign policy back.”
Fortunately, Obama has few options. The real problem is that Obama is so incompetent that if he tries to do anything at all, he might accidentally get America into a war.
Barack Obama is not a leader. He is a community organizer. This is a problem.