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March 04, 2014

Ukraine Updates, Flashbacks

Jim Geraghty has a round-up.

Several important things. First, from Larry O'Connor:

Their mission? Disarming Ukraine.

DONETSK, Ukraine – U.S. Senators Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama (D-IL) called for the immediate destruction of 15,000 tons of ammunition, 400,000 small arms and light weapons, and 1,000 man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) or shoulder missile launchers that are often sought by terrorists.

Lugar and Obama toured the Donetsk State Chemical Production Plant, a conventional weapons destruction facility where the U.S. has taken the lead in a three-year NATO program to destroy the weapons. Another 117,000 tons of ammunition and 1.1 million small arms and light weapons are slated for destruction within 12 years.

If you remember, to the extent that Obama had any foreign policy experience at all, it was all based on his gadflying about with Dick Lugar on these feel-goody disarmament initiatives.

One wonders if this destruction of basic tools of self-defense will wind up seriously harming the Ukrainians. Doubtless, some things like MANPADS are a security risk for the US and we should put our interest above theirs -- but why all the destruction of routine small arms and ammo?

He also catches this prediction from a Time foreign policy expert, from a week ago: No, Russia Will Not Invade the Ukraine.

Well done, Time Magazine.

I'm leaving behind the rest of his post, including Tom Clancy being all psychic and writing a novel in which a Russian tyrant still, get this, has a revanchist interest in taking back the Ukraine.

What a silly conservative chowderhead.

James Kirchick writes in the Daily Beast of all the alleged foreign-policy "realists" who premised all of America's foreign policy on the odd notion that war-mongering tyrants would stop being tyrannical and mongering for war if we just sweet-talked them with Pure Reason.

He dismantles an NYU professor who wrote at the nation, shortly before the invasion of Ukraine, that Russia would not invade the Ukraine, and claims to the contrary were due to a biased, anti-Russian, anti-Putin media.

The most noxious of these figures is New York University professor and Nation magazine contributor Stephen Cohen. His recent opus, “Distorting Russia,” will go down in history as one of the most slavish defenses of Putinism. “Mainstream American press coverage of Russia,” Cohen writes, has been “shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory.” Western readers, he complains, have been subject to a “relentless demonization of Putin, with little regard for facts.” Putin—a man who presides over a rubber stamp parliament, subjects his political opponents to show trials, dispatches riot police to beat peaceful protestors, and has restricted freedom of speech and association by banning pro-gay language and demonstrations—is unfairly portrayed as an “autocrat,” Cohen says (scare quotes original).

On the contrary, the Russian president is something of a hero..... Cohen asks, “Should not Obama himself have gone to [the] Sochi [Olympics]—either out of gratitude to Putin, or to stand with Russia’s leader against international terrorists who have struck both of our countries?”

The problem with the realists is that they fail to see the moral, tactical and legal disparities that exist between the aims and methods of East and West.

As for Ukraine, Cohen believes Russia is protecting a set of legitimate interests in that formerly sovereign nation and the West is engaging in imperialist meddling. To engage in such sophistry, he has to portray the criminal former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych—who ordered the murder, in broad daylight, of dozens of his own citizens—as a decent ruler. In January, without any public hearing or parliamentary debate, the Ukrainian legislature adopted, and Yanukovych signed, a set of 10 laws that collectively smothered freedom of speech, press and association, a draft of regulations that led Yale University professor and Ukraine expert Timothy Snyder to conclude that, “On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship.” Cohen furiously defended Yanukovych, writing that, “In fact, the ‘paper’ legislation he’s referring to hardly constituted dictatorship, and in any event was soon repealed.” Like Putin releasing the prisoners he should never have jailed, Cohen wants us to give credit to a dictator for (temporarily, and only to save his own skin) undoing a trapping of dictatorship. The dictator giveth, and the dictator taketh away.

Eggs, omelets.

It's worth a read.

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posted by Ace at 02:01 PM

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