by Chip Wood - March 21, 2014
Did it finally happen? Did Barack Obama’s bumbling incompetence actually lead to a decent result for this country?
I’m surprised to say the answer appears to be yes. Obama’s milquetoast response to Vladimir Putin’s bold aggression in the Crimean Peninsula may have made him a laughingstock among Russian leaders. But it’s also reduced the likelihood of U.S. intervention there. And that’s a good thing.
Let’s face it: The United States has absolutely no vital interest at stake in that part the world. What do we care if a majority of citizens in Crimea vote to declare their independence from Ukraine? Or even that they want to become part of Mother Russia? What business is it of ours to tell them they can’t?
Now I’ll grant you, conducting a plebiscite under the watchful eyes of 40,000 Russian troops may lead some to suggest that a little pressure was being exerted on the populace. Was anyone surprised to hear that the proposal to rejoin Russia was approved by a whopping 96 percent of the people who cast ballots? That’s the sort of landslide we’re used to hearing from North Korea or some African dictatorship.
Now, I’m not about to beat the drum for this country to take tougher measures against Russia. The best thing for us to do is to sit this one out. I don’t think we should even provide aid, whether financial or military, to Ukraine.
The House of Representatives doesn’t agree. An emergency measure to give the Ukraine more aid was rushed through by a sizable bipartisan majority. But when the bill reached the Senate, Harry Reid decided to… send everyone home for a short vacation.
Mmmm, now I find myself agreeing with Reid. Maybe I’d better rethink this.
OK, I did. And I still think what happens in the Crimean Peninsula is not our problem or our responsibility.
But what Obama ended up doing is worse than nothing. In what the President described as a “calibrated” response, he decided to impose economic sanctions on all of 11 people. Obama said the people on the list — seven from Russia and four from Ukraine — had threatened “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” But none of them were the key players in this melodrama. Putin’s chief of staff, his defense minister and his chief intelligence officer were all conspicuous by their absence.
The Russian stock market, which had been falling for the two weeks after Russian troops invaded Crimea, in fear of what sanctions might be imposed on the country, climbed higher when it became apparent how insignificant the U.S. and European response would be.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny even sent out a tweet, declaring: “Obama only delighted all our crooks and encouraged them.” One of the people on the list, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, promptly confirmed this appraisal, when he sent out his own tweet, saying: “It seems to me that some kind of joker wrote the U.S. president’s order.”
It doesn’t sound like they’re taking our President too seriously, does it?