February 21, 2014

Ukrainian Unrest, American Weakness

Vladimir Putin once again outmaneuvers Barack Obama.

Protesters in Ukraine are fed up with that country’s cozying up to Russia, and, unfortunately, Barack Obama’s poor reaction is yet another example of how his bankrupt foreign policy only further weakens America on the world stage. Protests and violence erupted after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych opted in November for closer ties with and $15 billion from Russia instead of a trade and political partnership with the European Union.

After three months of unrest, Yanukovych announced a pending agreement to end the violence. But that wasn’t until dozens of people were killed in the past week in Kiev, leaving the capital city’s Independence Square looking like a war zone. Yet all our fearless leader has done is make tired statements about how “we’re going to be watching closely,” that “we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint,” that “we expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful,” and (here’s a doozy) that “there will be consequences if people step over the line.” Yep, another phony “red line” from our Tough Guy in Chief.

We’ve heard these statements from Obama before, and so has the rest of the world. The Iranian government heard them in 2009 before they violently crushed demonstrations against a rigged national election. Islamofascists in Libya heard them in 2011 when Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown, and again the following year when four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were murdered in a terrorist attack. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad heard them last year when he used extreme prejudice and a healthy dose of chemical weapons to prevent political opponents from bringing an end to his regime.

Worst of all, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has received the transmission of Obama’s weakness all too clearly, and he’s called Obama’s bluff every single time he’s tried to invoke American power in world affairs. Obama’s equivocal statements and rudderless foreign policy are no match for the KGB-trained Putin, who has outmaneuvered Obama at every turn. There can be no mistaking that Russia is driving the conflict in Ukraine. Putin doesn’t want this former Soviet republic drifting toward the West, and he has done everything short of outright military intervention to prevent it.

Obama is at a serious disadvantage in large part because his administration doesn’t understand the world we live in. White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest couldn’t identify a national security interest for the U.S. in Ukraine, and also took the opportunity to refute any ideas of renewed Cold War rivalries. Putin most definitely sees a national interest – rebuilding the Soviet Union in the face of American and Western weakness – and that gives him the upper hand. Russia never sought to be America’s friend and never accepted Obama’s (and Hillary’s) pathetic “reset” in relations. The longer Obama refuses to face that reality, the harder it will be for America to reassert itself on the world stage after he exits.

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