Putin Roars, Obama Retreats
While Vladimir Putin celebrated the squeaker of an election that gave him 97 per cent approval for the annexation of Crimea, Barack Obama stumbled and mumbled his way to more empty threats in response to Russia’s naked aggression.
Appearing in the White House pressroom, Obama announced sanctions against eleven Russian leaders. Putin was not among them.
It was a typical Obama performance in response to an international crisis – long on talk and short on action. It was a bloodless performance. The president read the statement with the enthusiasm of a detached bystander. It is as if he says what he thinks a president is supposed to say. However, it is all empty rhetoric.
This is serious business. The world is watching the Russian president with anxious anticipation of his next move. The feckless response from Obama and the European Union is a signal to every national leader. Friends of the West know that they are on their own; foes of freedom and national sovereignty see opportunity for aggression.
Joel Pollak of Breitbart News reminds readers of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s famous “reset” with the Russians five years ago. Now, Pollak writes, Putin has pushed the reset button. He lists five of the most likely consequences:
1. China Advances Claims Over Territory and Airspace.
An aggressively nationalist China was already moving to broaden its air defenses and its claims to the Senkaku Islands, despite U.S. plans to “pivot” from the Middle East to the western Pacific. It will now be even more assertive, knowing there are few consequences.
2. Al Qaeda Steps Up Its Attempts to Create an Islamic Caliphate.
The Obama administration, having dispatched Osama bin Laden, has left Al Qaeda to expand across Africa and the Middle East. Those hoping to establish an Islamic state in the ruins of Syria and Iraq will be encouraged by the failure of the west to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine, because the artificial borders of the Middle East seem even more vulnerable now.
3. Israel Plans for Completely Unilateral Action on Iran.
It is clearer than ever before that the Obama administration has no ability to enforce its own “red lines” and no will to risk armed conflict. Israel will likely set aside the task of obtaining U.S. approval for a pre-emptive strike on Iran and will make independent plans–perhaps in coordination with Saudi Arabia, which has likewise learned that Obama is not to be trusted.
4. Europe Gets Serious About Fracking.
As my colleague James Delingpole of Breitbart London observes, one of the positive side-effects of the Crimea crisis is that the EU has realized that energy independence is vital to its security. It will start to reject pseudo-scientific “green” arguments in favor of oil and gas development.
5. Russia Continues to Challenge U.S. Allies and Create Crises.
The Crimea crisis is hardly over, and may reach other parts of Ukraine, as well as NATO allies in Eastern Europe, as Putin tries the same trick again. He is also expanding Russian influence into Latin America. He will only stop when the U.S. stops retreating from any possible confrontation, and commits military resources to stopping his advance. That point is still very far away.
These consequences are not confined to Eastern Europe or U.S. allies in NATO. As Pollak points out, they are geopolitical in nature, reaching around the world.
Ukraine has begged the United States for help. The country’s interim prime minister traveled to Washington last week to meet with Obama and members of Congress. His country desperately needs money. But Ukraine also could make good use of weapons to show Putin that it will resist further Russian aggression, regardless of the cost.
Now the people and leaders of Ukraine know that Obama will give them rhetoric and little else. One of the president’s main points in response to Putin’s power grab was his announcement that Vice President Biden will be dispatched to Europe for consultation with U.S. allies. More talk, no action.