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March 25, 2014

Obama: Russia Is Just An Insecure "Regional Power"

Jonathan Karl of ABC asked Obama a question today that wounded Obama's vanity so he answered it like the petulant man-child he is.

“In China, in Syria, in Egypt, and now in Russia, we’ve seen you make strong statements, issue warnings that have been ignored,” Karl began. “Are you concerned that America’s influence in the world, your influence in the world, is on the decline?”

“In light of recent developments, do you think that Mitt Romney had a point when he said Russia is America’s biggest geopolitical foe?” Karl continued.

...

“Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness,” Obama asserted, as though he was talking about the psychological insecurities that plague the average playground bully.

“The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more,” Obama insisted.

"A regional power"?

I'm going to guess Obama has never looked at a globe and noticed that Russia stretches across many regions...Europe, it's very near the Mideast and encompasses central Asia and reaches to the Pacific.

As Greg Pollowitz notes, if you have a fleet of ICBMs, you're pretty much by definition beyond "a regional power".

They are also making noises about establishing bases in Latin America.

Is Russia a hyper-power like the US or even the superpower it was during the, dare I say, "original", Cold War? Not really. But that doesn't mean they aren't capable of making trouble in many parts of the world for the US.

I am decidedly in the non-interventionist camp when it comes to places like Libya and Syria. I'm also very skeptical of our ability to do much if anything about Russian designs on Ukraine or non-NATO areas of the former Soviet Union but that doesn't mean we can afford to take Russia lightly.

We need to make it clear that NATO boundaries are real and can not be crossed. I don't think we show resolve by drawing lines in areas like Ukraine where our interests are more theoretical than real and our ability to enforce our position is questionable at best.

Critics will say that if we don't make a stand in places like Ukraine Putin won't believe our resolve somewhere like the Baltics. My feeling is it's better not to make a stand if the reality is you will back down when push comes to shove. No one thinks we'd go to war over Ukraine so why pretend we would? Having your bluff called is real weakness that will invite further probing by an adversary.

What should we be doing? If you want to sanction Russia and send military aid to Ukraine, fine. The real aim of our efforts should be showing friendly governments in places like Poland and the Baltics we are serous since they are the ones most open to Russian intimidation. We should be conducting military exercises with the Polish Army and Air Forces. We should be sending US Navy warships to Baltic port visits. In fairness, we are doing things like this.

We should also remember that China is watching and we need to make clear our commitment to Japan, while encouraging the Japaneses to continue their defense build up.

If you missed it earlier, I spoke with Noah Rothman of Mediate about these subjects for a podcast posted earlier today.

Listen: [Stream with Stitcher] [Download]


Unlike Rothman, I think US allies have to carry a greater load of our collective defense efforts. Politically it's just a reality that the US isn't going to keep spending a disproportionate share of defense spending. It's also important that other countries have skin in the game. We can't incur all the costs and run all the risks in confronting Russia while the Europeans use the money they save to compete with us economically and do business with the Russians.

At the very least we need to do more to make it possible for Europeans to buy energy from us and not Russia.

Obama's world view is very much informed by liberal elites who are unconcerned with how the world actually operates. They insist that it should conform to their post-nation state, cosmopolitan, citizen of the world nonsense. These self-styled elite insist that global actors who don't share this view change their outlook and actions to conform to the faculty approved version of reality. Obama actually said today that he's not very interested in the motivations behind Russia's recent actions. People like Putin eat these guys for lunch every time.


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posted by DrewM. at 02:32 PM

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