The Olympics had barely wrapped up and the wild dogs released back into Sochi when the Ukraine began a fracturing internal crisis that lead to Vladimir Putin seizing the Crimea back from Ukrainian control, in a de facto, if not de jure annexation.
The American response? Obama and Putin spoke on the phone and Obama expressed “grave concern.” Take that Putin!
It’s pretty clear that Putin has taken the measure of Obama, found him wanting as a serious leader, and has decided he can ignore him in most matters. After the Putin checkmate in Syria, I’m sure he feels he has free range to act in what he perceives are his interests worldwide. But let’s not give Putin too much credit here, the US foreign policy juggernaut he faces are Obama and that blowhard John Kerry; a pair that would find themselves outfoxed at a high school model UN.
The US does have alternatives in dealing with Putin; it’s not a choice between craven surrender or total war. Putin does want things, and has gotten things already that he hasn’t deserved. Maybe some of those things should be taken from him.
One is membership in the G-8. The G-7 was a group of the largest economies on that planet. And Russia wanted in to showcase that it too, was a big power. Maybe Russia should be kicked out. It’s something that would make Putin furious and take from him something he really wanted.
Another is to withdraw from the New START treaty. That’s the current treaty governing the reduction of US and Russian nuclear forces. Of course the problem with this is that START is something that Obama probably wanted more than Putin does. But because Obama wants it so much, it would send a message on how serious Obama is on Russia’s intervention. Of course, for that very reason, START would never be on the table. Obama just isn’t that serious.
Wow, I just wrote something profound! But that’s the problem, and one of the reasons among many that Putin feels free to walk over the international community and particularly President Obama.
Because Obama just isn’t that serious.