Big Red Car here. The Boss still refuses to come home while the skiing is good in Steamboat Springs. Can you blame him? Poor boy has been skiing in Sun Valley and the Boat for a few weeks.
Come on home, Boss. Please. We miss you.
Coup, coup, coup — come here cute little bear cub
A coup in deed, indeed
So today we learn that Putin has engineered a remarkable coup in the Crimea.
1. The Crimean Prime Minister, personally, throws his support to becoming a province of Russia.
2. The Crimean Parliament votes to become a province of Russia.
3. Crimea will hold a referendum on becoming a part of Russia. [Results have already been tabulated waiting only on the formality of voting. Haha, that’s not funny, Big Red Car. You’re suggesting that the vote is rigged? Well, Old Sport, yes I am.]
In the time period of the American Civil War such actions would have been a harbinger of war. The Federal government would not allow a state to secede from the Union.
With the passage of time, the notion of a plebiscite is a compelling element in governance. Most folks will likely say: “If that’s what the people want, then let them do so.” They will not really care that it was engineered by a bloody chap called Vladimir Putin and his 900 tanks and 150,000 troops.
The only objectors will be the government in Ukraine of which the Crimea is a province. This action is tantamount to secession but aided by the Russian bear and its head thug, one Mr Vladimir Putin backed up by 150,000 troops, 900 tanks and 90 combat aircraft plus the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Some cynics will say that when Russia conducts maneuvers on a nation’s borders with such an armed force and when Putin receives authority to invade the Ukraine in general and the Crimea in particular — well, that’s not quite the same as the power of the ballot box.
Please count the Big Red Car as such a cynic. This is just naked aggression with the tiniest spritz of cheap perfume. Same eau d toilette as used by Adolph Hitler.
A virtuoso performance
Much will be said about what a thug Putin is but let’s give credit where credit is due. Putin, thug extraordinaire, has out thought and out maneuvered all of his opponents and critics.
Oh, sure, he’s had to take a few tongue lashings from President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry — water on a duck’s ass sayeth Vladimir. Who can’t stand a bit of rain in the business of stealing countries?
There is some conjecture that Putin’s assault on sovereignty was a spur of the moment thing, bit impulsive. But the Big Red Car doesn’t think so and why?
1. The coordination with the Olympics was well orchestrated. This was extraordinary camouflage and lulled the entire world to sleep. Just imagine, while Putin was watching the Russian hockey team get whipped by the Americans, he was already ready to push the button of this coup,
2. You cannot move 150,000 troops, 900 tanks and 90 combat aircraft overnight. It takes enormous logistical planning, troop assembly, marching orders and detailed transportation planning. This is something that had been planned about six months ago.
3. The troubles in Kiev started about 3-4 months go. This was the match set to a bonfire that had already been set. The bonfire was the Ukrainian decision to spurn EU support and to linger in the Bear’s boudoir. The people would not embrace it — as the corrupt leadership of Ukraine well knew and which the Russians well knew.
The most important thing that Putin knew and harnessed was that nobody was willing to do anything meaningful in opposition to his naked aggression.
1. Putin had taken President Obama’s measure and concluded: “That pussy will do nothing other than give a speech.” He was right. Putin gets Crimea, maybe eastern Ukraine, Obama’s lunch money and we — we get a speech. Bravo!
2. The American Sec of Def and Sec of State are new in their jobs, light in their loafers and essentially cast in the same mold as the President — lots of talk, splash of bluster but not too much action. After all, as Putin was assembling his tanks the Secretary of State was going around giving speeches indicating that global warming/climate change was the biggest threat to humanity. Sec of State Kerry does not really appreciate the power of 900 tanks in the hands of a mad Russian.
3. NATO was not going to do anything.
4. The Treaty of Budapest — of which Russia itself was a signatory — was not going to be used to unsheathe any bayonets. It was worthless paper. Not good enough for wrapping fish and not soft enough for toilet tissue. It means nothing.
5. Naked aggression will always trump high minded diplomacy just like Neville Chamberlain and Hitler in the Munich Agreement making love to create the Czech Sudetenland agreement which delivered the Germanic section of Czechoslovakia to Hitler without a shot being fired. Of course that turned out not to be “peace in our times” but the appetizer course for the invasion of Poland, France and Russia. Doing nothing did not work very well then and will not work well now.
So, in the end, one is tempted to say that Putin has delivered a virtuoso performance and has harnessed naked aggression to remake the map of Europe to his liking. He will not stop here.
Danger ahead, Will Robinson, danger ahead
In much the same way that the Sudetenland foreshadowed the invasion of Poland, the ease with which Putin took two provinces of Georgia foreshadowed his taking the Crimea. Both were taken on the same pretense as Hitler took the Sudetenland — “protection” of ethnic and language related peoples who were asking for such protection. Pure bullshit but very effective nonetheless and when coupled with an affirmative vote of the leadership, the legislature and a plebiscite — well, what is one to do? It almost seems noble, no?
Unpunished for Georgia was encouragement for the Crimea coupled with the fact that the Russian Black Fleet is at anchor in the Crimea’s waters. This is an area of intense Russian interest. But, Will Robinson, you knew that, right?
Make no mistake this will get worse before it gets better. The next country may be a NATO country which would trigger Article 5 of the NATO pact which requires NATO members to defend any member attacked by an aggressor. This is the glue that binds NATO together today. The Big Red Car frankly questions whether it would actually be enforced. Would the US go to war if eastern Poland were annexed? Not bloody likely.
Putin knows this. He will act accordingly.
There are several important considerations at work here.
1. Our national priorities — creating a welfare state while reducing the size and capabilities of our military — are contrary to dealing with a mad Russian attempting to rebuild the USSR.
2. Nobody respects or fears the United States or its leadership. We have no credibility and are out of red paint with which to draw red lines and issue threats of retaliation. Our enemies use our credibility as kindling to start fires in places like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Nobody trusts President Obama. We are not credible and we are quickly becoming incapable of backing up our words with actions.
3. Our supposed allies are looking after their own economic interests. The London property market is almost a suburb of Moscow with Russian oligarchs setting up shop and buying anything that does not move.
4. The French are selling warships to the Russians, The English are banking the Russian oil industry and the corrupt oligarchs. The Germans have a $22B trade relationship with Russia.
5. Putin has his hands on the natural gas valves which will warm over 30% of Europe, a spectacularly bad policy.
This rant could go on a bit further but the Big Red Car shall spare you.
Final score: Putin, the Mad Russian 1 — Balance of the clueless world 0
Game, set, match — Putin.