Big Red Car here. The Boss is in Steamboat having toured Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and now Colorado. Big range of weather enroute and some striking country [some boring as sin country also — hey, sin isn’t boring is it?]
So you have undoubtedly been following the brouhaha in the Ukraine, no?
Bad deal and let’s establish from the start that the United States is not in a position to intervene militarily. Don’t even waste your breath suggesting such nonsense. Too far from home. Short supply lines for the Russians. Questionable strategic interest for America.
The US had fifteen aircraft carrier battle groups in the Reagan era. Fifteen!
Today we have eight with one more being built. There is whispering going on in the Pentagon to eliminate two aircraft carrier battle groups as part of what many categorize as a foolish contraction of our military capabilities.
Would you rather have fifteen of these battle groups or seven? Your choice.
The world is a very dangerous place and we need to be able to project force in the Pacific (China), the Mediterranean (Middle East), Indian Ocean (Afghanistan, Somalia) and now the Black Sea (Ukraine). You have to embrace the mission of disaster relief also (Haiti). You can’t cover the world with seven aircraft carrier battlegroups.
The Russians and the Chinese know this and they are waiting to test us.
Not only do you have to have the right capabilities to project force and to be taken seriously, you have to have earned credibility in the world. A feckless and inconsistent leadership is not going to make any tyrants give a second thought about using their capabilities. Tyrants and despots will always ultimately use their weapons — witness Syria and chemical weapons or Saddam Hussein and his tanks.
The American track record in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Georgia — emboldens Putin and the Russians. You cannot scare anyone by leading from the back.
Our pathetically weak economy and our inability to get our financial house in order means we cannot afford to project force. We are broke.
It is clear that Putin has calculated his decision to invade the Ukraine — starting with the pretense of protecting ethnic Russians in the Crimea — carefully. We — the United States, NATO, the European Union — cannot project force in the Ukraine. Putin holding trump. We are checkmated.
Know this — the Ukraine is intellectually part of Russia. Because of its ethnic makeup. Because of its past as a member of the USSR. Because it shares a border with Russia. Because Putin thinks so.
The location of the Ukraine on Russia’s border is like the United States dealing with the implications of Canada wandering off the game board. It is very serious. This is NOT a head fake.
In confronting this mess, President Obama uses the language of a follower, not a leader. He indicates that there “will be costs”. Putin says: “So what?”
President speaks in a passive voice. Putin speaks in an active voice. This is the difference in leadership styles.
The President threatens not to come to Sochi, Russia to attend a G-8 meeting. Oh boy! In the past, Putin has blown off such meetings. He has arbitrarily failed to attend. He could not care less whether President Obama scuttles his visit or the entire G-8 meeting. He is too busy bullying the United States and President Obama. Too busy stealing the world’s lunch money.
Putin is focused on rebuilding the former USSR — he did not give back those Georgian states he took with his tanks last Olympic season. The world let him get away with it. The world will likely get over Ukraine and the seizure of the Crimea also. Why should he believe otherwise?
Putin uses the language of a leader — evil prick to be sure but a leader nonetheless — and just asks his faux legislature to authorize the use of military force which they authorize unanimously. He has followers and they are following completely. The Russians consider unrest on their border very seriously. The President considers it an impediment to keeping a tee time.
This mess is going to be a test of the capabilities, credibility, competence and leadership of our country and our President. Stay tuned.