Big Red Car here. The weather in the ATX is beyond belief. It is clear that God has moved to Austin to recuperate for a few weeks.
So the mess in Eastern Europe is not getting better by itself which causes the Big Red Car to reflect how we got into this mess.
The Big Red Car has said we need to be leaning a bit more forward in our saddles. This is not just today — too late for that — but critical to what has transpired to get us where we currently are.
Being real and knowing our enemies
The world is not run by the guys who invented T Ball. T Ball being the silly notion that you put a baseball on a tee and keep swinging until you get a hit. Everybody gets a hit in tee ball. After you get a hit, nobody is ever out. Nobody keeps score so both teams win. Then you go out for ice cream.
This is not how the real world operates.
Nations and leaders have very clearly articulated philosophies. For decades Vladimir Putin — this guy has been running the show in Russia in some form or fashion for almost 20 years and was a very high official before that — has said that the loss of the Soviet Union was the worst thing ever to befall Russia. He has not been subtle about this lament and thus the idea that he is intent on rebuilding Russia to once again lead and dominate a new Soviet Union should come as no surprise to a thinking man.
Putin and the Russian people believe they are linked to and entitled to have a relationship with all Russian speaking people everywhere. Quaint notion? Not really.
The Russians are fearful of and resent having NATO countries on their borders. Right or wrong, they believe this represents a threat to their existence and a violation of their sphere of influence. This violation of their zone of safety is real if they think it to be real.
NATO has expanded up against the Russian borders for exactly the reasons Putin fears — the ability to project force as far east as possible. NATO is a defensive military alliance which under Article 5 of the treaty obligates all members to come to the aid of each other in the event of an attack. An attack on one is an attack on all. The Russians see the eastward spread of NATO as being provocative.
If you were picking pals for a golf scramble would you want someone who was not very good at golf? Latvia, as an example, has a professional army of approximately 4,500 soldiers and relies otherwise on the ability to call up reservists. On their best day, they cannot drive a golf ball 100 yards. So, Big Red Car, why would we seek their membership in NATO? They contribute next to nothing.
Well, Old Sport, we did it to jab the Russian bear and now the Russian bear has decided to do something about it. Make no mistake, the Russians intend to have Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania for their own. They will test NATO in those places. Are we Americans willing to shed American blood and invest American treasure for Latvia?
We need to get real about assessing the Russian threat. Consider the following:
1. Russia is trying to claim the arctic both for energy and military purposes.
2. Russia has resumed their periodic bomber patrols down the East coast of the US.
3. Russia has begun to develop aerial and naval ports of call in Havana, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
4. Russia slipped a nuclear armed Boomer into the Gulf of Mexico putting our cities within a very short travel time of Russian nuclear missiles the very threat that precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis — enemy nuclear weapons in our hemisphere.
The Russians are not playing T Ball, ya’ll.
When we confront enemies in the world, it is important that we do not add to the controversy whenever we can avoid it. President Obama’s recent characterization of Russia as a “regional power” acting out of “weakness” may have given him a bit of an ego surge but it did irreparable damage to the character of the dialogue. For a guy usually clever with words, this was a real mistake.
Folks who take some comfort that Secretary of State Kerry will be meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov should be cautioned the reason these talks are taking place — at the behest of Putin — is because the Russians have won in Crimea and now they will negotiate the futures of eastern Ukraine and Moldova and other areas that have Russian speaking sectors. They are not going to negotiate about Crimea. These negotiations are based upon the acknowledgement that Crimea is “settled.”
Negotiating with the Russians
Once upon a time the United States promulgated the Monroe Doctrine that stood for the idea that no colonial powers were welcome in our hemisphere. Since 1810 this has been an expression of the American sphere of influence. In a similar way, the Russians think they are entitled to a sphere of influence and a zone of safety. Goose. Gander.
The Russians are not to be trusted. As Saint Ronald said: “Trust but verify.”
The Russians who put on the Olympics are just a public relations construct.
The Russians and Putin, in particular, do not respect or fear American resolve today. Our President is viewed as being ineffectual and weak for a number of reasons not the least of which are he has been content to allow America to become part of the choir and has embraced a soprano singing tone. America needs to be singing bass and leading the choir. That is the American duty. That is what the world expects.
Until America and our President abandon their soprano ways, the Russians will continue to press their claims to their desired sphere of influence and zone of safety.
Our President needs to start singing like another well known soprano, Tony Soprano.