Why Putin Invaded Ukraine

Armed servicemen stand near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava

Three words. Because he could.

It’s astounding that for weeks the European and American political and journalistic establishments have utterly failed to understand that. But then again their predecessors in the 1930s couldn’t understand such a simple concept either.

Russia is a totalitarian state. It has extensive territorial claims on its neighbors going back centuries and it considers the area its own private preserve.

The only reason Putin wouldn’t send tanks somewhere is because there would be nothing to gain or compelling reasons not to.

His compelling reason not to currently consists of a pathetic Post-American joke in Washington and a NATO gang that was barely strong enough to knock off Gaddafi after several months.

The Russian military is overrated and couldn’t stand up to a collision with NATO, but Putin knows that he doesn’t have to worry about that. Most Western countries are sick of war and Western governments are concerned about popularity.

And entering Crimea is a test. All those stories about fascists roaming Kiev are a trial balloon for full intervention.

The Western fulcrum is America. Obama drew red lines on Syria and Iran and backed off. What happened next was inevitable. It’s also incomprehensible to the Western elites whose religion is diplomacy.

As in Iran and Syria, Obama has passed the Ukraine test with flying colors as his officials distinguished between an invasion and an “uncontested arrival“.

They couldn’t have done any better if they had issued Putin a map of Kiev.

Western liberal elites don’t understand that what was on the line in the Middle East and now in Ukraine was the credibility of the Great Western Peace. If Putin goes all the way, he does more than forcibly push Ukraine back into line, he utterly discredits NATO, Europe and America in Eastern Europe, finishing the process that Obama began with his missile shield betrayal.

And then it’s game over.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that Moscow’s deployment of Russian forces into Crimea is a clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and warned of greater economic and political isolation if they are not withdrawn.

The White House raised the possibility of sanctions, saying that “going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation.”

Who’s really being isolated here? America or Russia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded and won his parliament’s approval on Saturday to invade Ukraine, where the new government warned of war, put its troops on high alert and appealed to NATO for help.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to send troops to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, leading a government that took power after Moscow’s ally Viktor Yanukovich fled a week ago, said Russian military action “would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia”.

 

  • PaleoConservative

    I dislike Obama’s policies, but in this case what the hell did you expect him to do? Ukraine *IS* Russia’s backyard, historically & culturally Heard of Kievan Rus? It’s none of our business to intervene in family fight.

    • truebearing

      He could announce a resurrection of the missile defense he abandoned as soon as he was elected. He could threaten to pull out of various treaties with Russia. There are plenty of things the Russians don’t want us to do. He could threaten to do all of them. Maybe he could get aggressive and manly and call Putin a poopy-pig.

      • BagLady

        Maybe he could get aggressive and manly and call Putin a poopy-pig.

        I wouldn’t. I’d suggest gay. He goes to great lengths to hide something that seems quite obvious to me. Text book stuff.

        Somewhere new to research. I prefer bloggers on the ground as good sources of the truth. Who started it and why? This is obviously going to be a big subject for the foreseeable future but without personal knowledge of the country, I would not comment off the cuff.

        • BagLady

          How strange. As I wrote the above I turned on the TV to BBC Knowledge and Top Gear. The team were testing cars through the Crimea and were suffering from boredom as they drove hour after hour in a straight line through farmland. Hardly surprising that Putin has walked in without a bullet being fired … so far. Who’s he going to shoot, the farmer? The country is made of beetroots and amazingly beautiful women. The roads are also incredibly good quality I note. Always a good sign.

          http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/02/top-gear-thursday-clarkson-may-hammond-go-ukraine/

    • rose maryawn

      My Uncle Gabriel got a stunning blue Dodge
      Charger SRT8 from only workin part time on a home pc… hop over to here
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      • http://hotair.com/ SwiperTheFox

        Stop spamming, moron!

      • CaoMoo

        In the name of socialism I command your uncle to send me his charger and his PC and yours as well.

    • European

      It’s good to read a knowledgeable, realistic opinion!

  • truebearing

    After reading the headline, I thought, “because he wanted to.” Then I read Daniel’s assessment and laughed. It is so simple, and every leader in the world knows this truth. Obama won’t do anything but flap his gums and damage America. The only time he gets aggressive is when trying to coerce Israel into national suicide. Putin could charge into Poland next, and all Obama would do is make some mamby-pamby pseudo-threat and call for Happy Hour. This is a nightmare.

    • Notalibfool

      “Putin could charge into Poland next…”

      History does tend to repeat itself. It will not stop with Ukraine. The leaders of the other former Soviet territories should be paying close attention to this.

      • European

        But Poland was never a Soviet territory …

        • Notalibfool

          But it was a Soviet puppet state for several decades.

    • BagLady

      “Putin could charge into Poland next”

      He could indeed. The country must be nigh on empty now half the Poles have moved to Britain.

      • A Z

        When are you Brits going to raise taxes to support the new immigrants.

        I assume the Poles will work. the others not so much.

        I think the whole Roma population of Romania should decamp and move to Britain. Labour will take them with open arms unless the polls indicate that such a policy will cause them to lose and enter the wilderness for generations.

        I think you have too large of a home and spend too much $$$ vacation. Surely some Roma can move in with you and you can cut back on overseas flight and only vacation to Brighton beach or someplace nearer. Do it for Gaia. Take one for the TEAM!

        • BagLady

          I think the Roma population is doing just that. Read the English newspapers and you will camps of pickpockets living rough in the most salubrious areas of London and sending their ill-gotten gains home to build huge family homes.

          Sorry but your fourth paragraph is uninteligable.

          • A Z

            There was nothing unintelligible in my 4th paragraph.
            It was a dig at those who have Left of center politics. Everyone, who reads it, can see it.

          • BagLady

            For starters, the Centre has moved to the right in the last few decades.

            So, in your opinion, everyone on the left has loadsa dosh, lives in a big house and goes on holiday a lot. They all seem to live near Brighton for some strange reason.

            As you say, it’s as plain as the nose on your face.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “For starters, the Centre has moved to the right in the last few decades.”

            Yeah…uh, no. That’s insane. Only an indoctrinated leftist could feel that way.In your circles of peers maybe some of the hippies mellowed out but overall society has been shifting left for roughly a century or more here in the USA. Longer in Europe, obviously. Although you could call the American Revolution a leftist uprising that shifted right for a while but that’s what any surviving revolution must do. And it was only temporary.

          • BagLady

            Of course society shifted left after the First World War. Prior to that, there had been no left. If I want to ‘see’ how it was in early 20th century England, I read Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and for 1940′s America, Phillip Roth paints a vivid picture. Margaret Thatcher changed society’s direction in Britain and Tony Blair accelerated the decline and actual make-up of society by opening the borders to all-comers. I see no-one representing the Left.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Of course society shifted left after the First World War. Prior to that, there had been no left.”

            Obviously you’re wrong. Unless what you mean is that there was no concerted effort by foreign nations to manipulate the voter base before WWI.

            That’s the whole point. The left since WWI (roughly) is about anti-nationalism and getting nations to kill their own sovereignty.

            “Margaret Thatcher changed society’s direction in Britain and Tony Blair accelerated the decline and actual make-up of society by opening the borders to all-comers. I see no-one representing the Left.”

            You see nobody representing the left because you’re so far over that you can’t see the center.

          • BagLady

            “Obviously you’re wrong” As I said, if I want to know how it was for the average man, I read Ragged Trousered Philanthropists [Robert Tressell].

            I see Left in the old fashioned sense: the working classes; the employee. Show me who represents these people.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “As I said, if I want to know how it was for the average man, I read Ragged Trousered Philanthropists [Robert Tressell]. Perhaps you would be too scared to be seen with a copy of such a Leftie’s thoughts lest you be labelled “Commie”.”

            Understanding leftists does not make one a communist. Accepting the ideals and ideas uncritically can lead to being a dupe or worse.

            If your point is that most of the population was not particularly engaged in politics, that’s true. But in theory there were people speaking for them, or pretending to speak for them. And that’s always been the problem with politics of the left: the elites have a vested interest in pretending to fix the problems while making them worse as long as they can deflect blame. Marx provided the ultimate framework for doing that.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “I see Left in the old fashioned sense: the working classes; the employee. Show me who represents these people.”

            Most politicians claim to. American conservatives want people to learn how to engage and manage their political leaders rather than depend on them as elites or thought leaders. It seems cruel but in the long run it’s more humane. And I for one understand that there should be people representing the common man, up and comer, developing populations, whatever you want to call them. My problem is that few if any politicians have really done a good job in that regard. I don’t hate the ideals, I hate the delusion and the liars that exploit the people they supposedly represent.

          • A Z

            No, what I said to save Mother Earth, people of Britain should not be allowed to travel further than Brighton Beach. There is too much of carbon footprint, if a person travels beyond the British Isles. That is it would contribute too much to Man Made Global Warning and you have said you are a believer. So let us have some action, eh?

            I did not say they should have to live near Brighton Beach to have the opportunity to visit. But let me check the updated Green playbook and regulations. there might be a new clause that says you can only holiday within walking distance of your flat. Unless of curse you are a national level politician, thespian or activist.

          • BagLady

            I must make a point of asking all the tourists I meet whether they are Right or Left. I wasn’t aware that one breed traveled more than the other.

            PS It is also possible to travel great distances on the bus or the boat. Walking five hours a day gets you quite a long way too.

            Suggesting that people stay close to home to save the planet is rather ridiculous and ill-thought out. Bring back in-breeding, do yu mean? Because that’s what happened from when we lived in caves to mid-nineteenth century. Even in Britain genetic weakness can be localised.

            “That is it would contribute too much to Man Made Global Warning and
            you have said you are a believer. So let us have some action, eh?”

            If you’re going to quote me, please provide a pointer to the post.

          • A Z

            “If you’re going to quote me, please provide a pointer to the post.”

            So you don’t remember that you are for the LEFT’s remedy for AGW? You must have a short memory.

            If you believe on the LEFT’s carbon footprint meme, then you are a hypocrite for getting on an airplane.

          • BagLady

            Surely if I build up a bank of carbon credits by saving in many other areas, I can board the occasional flight.

          • A Z

            You do not realise, you are mentally ill. Buying carbon credits is no different than buying indulgences n the medieval times.

            Trees have been sold more than once for carbon credits. If everyone had electricity and water (which I want), there would not be enough trees in the world according to Green theology.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence

            I am getting the picture. Your immediate ancestors have all been taller than the average Brit. That speaks of relative wealth, the cloisteredness and your particular brand of daftness.

          • BagLady

            “Relative wealth”. The spread is a little wide. Do I compare myself with Paris Hilton or the dollar-a-day slave?

            I feel certain you have water from one source or another, just as I do … for most of the year.

          • BagLady

            What has wealth got to do with one’s mind?

            Being “cloistered” is hardly the world of the unconstrained rich.

            If you’re looking for bigotry, perhaps you should use a different paradigm.

          • BagLady

            Have you swung to the Far Left? I thought you were all for “drill baby drill” and now you castigate me for my tipitoe footprint.

          • A Z

            You are 1/2 to far left when you believe in carbon credits. Not I

            I am judging you by your own standards. Your carbon foot print is not tiptoe.

          • BagLady

            No credit then for my endeavours? I feel like a doctor working in the Soviet Union with less pay than the factory worker.

          • A Z

            I recycle so much the only thing not recycled is some food packaging and stuff left over from food preparation.

            I am all for recycling, wind power, solar power, etc.

            But from your past statement it sounds like you are all in for the policies of the Warmists politicians, activists and scientists.

            It is visceral issue. If I want to go solar to get off the grid as much as possible then the authorities want to squash me. If I support solar and stay on their grid then it is good. You give political power to the Warmists.

          • BagLady

            Then I must clearly concentrate on my writing since I am for none of the above.

            It is the national grid that worries me. Once you link up with them, you are under their power (excuse the pun). If my South African friend can run a ‘guest house’ of roundhouses out on the Transkei using a couple of solar panels and batteries, I’m sure most households could do likewise. Granted, one dines by candlelight (with the likelihood of a horse sniffing your meal) — oyster soup followed by crayfish and T-bone with jacket potatoes most nights. Shower water is heated by cauldron but he runs fridges, freezers and a little light music for 35 guests. Rugged, true but hardly hardship.

          • A Z

            I really like Idealab’s Stirling Engine product. Eexcept for the Stirling part. Nothing Scottish can be good.

            If have not heard more about Idealab except a smattering of articles. (1)

            If 20% of America went of the electrical grid, Washington D.C. “would have a cow”. It would take away 25% of the power they have over citizens

            “Alternative means of power are possible but need to be approved by city officials, according to Paul Dickson, the city building official” (2)

            (1) http://discovermagazine.com/2003/aug/featfire

            “Idealab Backs Clean Power Technology Firm”

            (2) “Solar Stirling engine company gets $9.5 million”
            by Michael Kanellos
            June 14, 2007

            http://reason.com/blog/2014/02/25/florida-city-threatens-woman-for-living

          • objectivefactsmatter
          • objectivefactsmatter

            Of course you are good and you can do anything. It’s the little people that must strictly comply with all of the planet-saving measures so that the elites like you can do all of that great work.

            That’s how I feel.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “So, in your opinion, everyone on the left has loadsa dosh, lives in a big house and goes on holiday a lot.”

            No. The elites and “thought leaders” do.

            “They all seem to live near Brighton for some strange reason.”

            You’re looking at the dupes and dependents.

          • Guest

            The British Labour Party must be so proud!

            NatGeo ran this article. I wonder how many people cared or saw the implications?

            http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/09/wealthy-roma/oneill-text

          • A Z

            I imagine you are only upset with the Roma pickpockets because you lost a cellphone because of a pick pocket.

            If you had not been personally violated, you would still be good with whatever any Leftist Schlemiel said.

          • BagLady

            I dislike pickpockets with a vengeance. I couldn’t care less about their origins, and yes, I have been pickpocket more than once and have come to the conclusion that there is less ‘pride’ in people. Standards have sunk and some criminal activity seems to have become acceptable.

            Of course, if your politicians are all on the fiddle it doesn’t help.

          • A Z

            Origins matter.

            I was reading a SCIAM article about a genetic basis for morality.

            The scientist believe in his theory of course. But he said the encoded morality had wiggle room. Here is the kicker. To stay with the “loose” parameters of encoded morality one only had to act honorably to one’s own group.

            We are not part of the Roma’s group, so everything they do to us is fair.

            So when someone won’t swear allegiance to a country (i.e the people of that country), they will be a problem.

    • BagLady

      “Nightmare” is a slight exaggeration. If we had no media we would be none the wiser. No-one has been shot and a bent president has fled, which is never a bad thing. It’s no good going in gung-ho with all guns blazing. What counts is the gas supply and whatever else deals are going on. these considerations will control the route to the outcome.

      However, there does seem to be a disruptive Neo-Nazi element stirring things up.

  • The March Hare

    While “who” is in charge changes, the goals of “what” is in charge doesn’t. The comintern’s goals are still running things even if the comintern isn’t. In Russia the left’s image changes, but they are still the left. In America, the “new left” became the image of the left, but they are still the left. The left finally got “who” they wanted in charge in both countries and can now start to carry out their international goals. There needs to be some serious changes made or we are all doomed.

    • Guest

      Russia’s territorial ambitions in the region antedate the comintern by centuries.

      • Notalibfool

        Yep. Check out maps showing the Russian Empire’s territorial expansion. There is a pattern.

      • The March Hare

        That has nothing to do with my statement. I was not commenting on territorial ambitions, but a spread of socialism/communism.

  • Flowerknife_us

    Obama said he could be more “flexible” after his re-election.

    • A Z

      Yes, he is bent over real good.

    • rbskillin

      Flexible enough to bend over and grab his ankles.

      • truebearing

        He’s been that flexible from the start.

  • Mrs Ward

    Crimea was Russian territory until the Soviets transferred it to Ukrainian administration. Glad to see you guys are fighting for the rights of the communists to choose what government the Russian people of the Crimea must belong to! 3/4 of the people in Ukrainian territory (including all of Eastern Ukraine) are Russian – they speak Russian and are Russian Orthodox. Ukrainians speak Ukrainian and are Ukrainian Orthodox or Uniate Catholic. Don’t be surprised when you see most of mainland Ukraine vote to secede from Ukraine so they can join Russia.
    Our town has a Russian Orthodox church across the street from a Ukrainian Orthodox church– exact same Liturgy and languages (Slavonic & English)–but the Ukrainians and Russians just couldn’t get along, so the Ukrainians built another church across the road.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      This isn’t a discussion about who should run which part of the Ukraine.

      • Mrs Ward

        It’s about “Why Putin Invaded Ukraine”. Putin isn’t invading Crimea because he wants to make Western countries look ineffective. It isn’t about Western countries (other than to stop western Ukraine forcing eastern Ukraine to join the failing EU); it’s about Russia and Russians. We don’t care about Russians, so it’s hard for us to imagine that they could be doing things to help each other, without regard to us or other Western countries.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Actually yes he is. It’s about expanding the sphere of influence which means wrecking the Western sphere of influence.

          And no, Putin doesn’t “help” anyone. If he wanted to help Russians, he could start right at home.

          This is about power.

          • hiernonymous

            Are they mutually exclusive?

            Is your interest in this concern for the rights of the people of Ukraine, or concern for a perceived shift in the power relationship between the U.S. and Russia?

          • truebearing

            “Are they mutually exclusive?”

            Is that question relevant? This isn’t an either/or. One could be concerned about “percieved power shifts” (in this case real power shifts), with human rights, with Obama’s feckless passivity in pretending to confront Putin’s aggression, or all of the above and more. You’re trying to force a choice where none is necessary.

            Presumably you read Greenfield’s post. What is your position on the situation?

          • hiernonymous

            “Is that question relevant?”

            Well, yes. Daniel said that this wasn’t about helping Russians, but about power. As I see it, there’s no reason it can’t be both, but I’m trying to make sure I understand what he’s saying, and what filter he’s applying, before evaluating it.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “Are they mutually exclusive?”

            In theory they are not. In reality, most of the time you have to choose one or the other.

            “Is your interest in this concern for the rights of the people of Ukraine, or concern for a perceived shift in the power relationship between the U.S. and Russia?”

            I wouldn’t care about a perceived shift in power if Russia could be trusted. The whole reason our power is threatened is because people perceive that we should stand up to Russia when they attack an independent sovereign state. If they could be trusted there’d be little use for such coercion.

            And what are your thoughts on Georgia? That hardly seems optimal for the demos.

            And if your point is that foreign policy is not necessarily a zero sum “game” that is of course true. But when the military starts to get involved we don’t usually expect synergistic outcomes without some rational reason behind those expectations.

            Everyone should be more careful about where they send their troops and aim their weapons. Not just us.

          • hiernonymous

            “In reality, most of the time you have to choose one or the other. ”

            I think that, most of the time, major policy decisions like this are reached only when many interests coincide. That quite often means an intersection of idealism and power politics.

            If Mr. Greenfield is viewing this through the cold eyes of geopolitics, with a Realist emphasis on power relationships, well, in this case, Russia’s interests are many and clear. Ukraine is a major energy provider. The Ukrainian ports are critical to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russians in the Crimea outnumber Ukrainians by almost exactly 2:1. Ukraine borders Russia, and a drift too closely into Western orbit heightens Moscow’s sense of encirclement. You may not agree that these interests justify Russia’s aggressive course of action, but at least it’s clear that Russia has actual interests in play here. It’s not clear what America’s interests are – again, from a Realist perspective. What vital national interest do we have in trying to expand our influence into Ukraine, such that Putin is somehow now “wrecking the Western sphere of influence?” Keep in mind that this situation is analogous in many (though not all, obviously) respects to a situation in which Mexican mobs overthrew the elected president of Mexico and installed someone who openly calls for cutting its ties with the United States in favor of strong relations with China. In such a situation, China would have to play its cards very carefully indeed to avoid a war in which its own interests were slight, and those of the U.S. profound.

            None of this is intended to imply that I believe that Russia is in the right. It’s intended to point out that if we employ Mr. Greenfield’s filter, then any aggressive response by the U.S. is clearly a losing game. Any response should be through international organizations – likely EU or UN – and focus on diplomatic and economic repercussions.

            At any rate, it may well be that the price of a genuinely independent Ukraine free to pursue a pro-Western policy is the return of Crimea to Russia.

            “And what are your thoughts on Georgia? That hardly seems optimal for the demos.”

            I’m not sure I understand the question. By “demos” do you mean the people of Georgia (‘demos’ in the Greek sense) or do you mean Democratic Party here in the U.S.? If the latter, the Russo-Georgian War took place during the Bush Administration.

            At any rate, what I think about Georgia is that the Georgian government was apparently convinced by its increasingly close ties with the U.S. military that it was in a position to resort to force in addressing its dispute with Russia in South Ossetia. Georgia was mistaken if it thought its warm relations with the U.S. would translate into active military support; the Bush Administration was not about to engage in combat operations against Russian in territory of the former Soviet Union.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            Russia clearly has “interests.” Power is an interest. How do they pursue that power? You’re articulating the details, which is interesting but not really getting to the heart of the criticism here.

            “None of this is intended to imply that I believe that Russia is in the right. It’s intended to point out that if we employ Mr. Greenfield’s filter, then any aggressive response by the U.S. is clearly a losing game. Any response should be through international organizations – likely EU or UN – and focus on diplomatic and economic repercussions.”

            What you’re missing is the fact that most of his audience agrees more or less with the idea that America’s power is to be used for “good.” If that’s false then we’re just a bunch of hypocrites. If that’s not false, and we do use our power to promote our “:good” values around the world to empower the freedom of the individual as much as practically possible, then there is a problem when a dictator expands his power at the expense of ours. It’s not always a zero sum game. Some times it’s positive, and some times it’s in fact a negative sum game.

            Reshuffle that a little bit and you have to realize that according to my stated ideals that it’s perfectly OK for others to rise in power. The questions are to probe whether it’s a plus globally not for the selfish interests of America as a rich and powerful nation, or for the selfish interests of a rich powerful nation that sees itself as sharing its ideas for the betterment of mankind. Not that we never fail, but I’m suggesting the guiding principals.

            The criticism of our leadership has less to do with a problem in response to immediate “shocking” events but in not foreseeing these kind of events, which means that we failed to raise these issues with international institutions a long time ago if that was something that could possibly produce a positive outcome.

            It’s a criticism of the entire approach and even the philosophy of the administration. Not criticism of moment to moment tactics per se.

            “At any rate, what I think about Georgia is that the Georgian government was apparently convinced by its increasingly close ties with the U.S. military that it was in a position to resort to force in addressing its dispute with Russia in South Ossetia. Georgia was mistaken if it thought its warm relations with the U.S. would translate into active military support; the Bush Administration was not about to engage in combat operations against Russian in territory of the former Soviet Union.”

            Agreed. But there are more than two fixed choices. We’re supposed to learn from events.

            It seems to me that POTUS learns all of the wrong lessons from history and from his experiences leading the nation. I’m glad he didn’t bomb Syria. But I wish he hadn’t mishandled it in the first place. I wish he hadn’t bombed Libya, or at least taken a different approach.

          • hiernonymous

            What you’re missing is the fact that most of his audience agrees more or
            less with the idea that America’s power is to be used for “good.”

            I am, in fact, missing the significance. Mr. Greenfield’s audience no doubt makes all sorts of assumptions, and a vague conviction that America uses its power for “good” isn’t terribly relevant to the conversation to this point. Though I suppose it might be interesting to take a side trip and explore what you mean by “good” in this context, it wouldn’t help me understand what Daniel was actually trying to convey in his post to me.

            then there is a problem when a dictator expands his power at the expense of ours.

            And it’s still not clear how anything happening in the Ukraine is happening “at the expense” of our power. We have no historic interest in the Ukraine. We have no standing in this fight, as it were. If you want to paint this as occurring at the expense of our power, you’ll have to express more clearly what our legitimate interests are to begin with. If your basic position is that every dispute everywhere on the globe is properly subject to American intervention, then I’d understand you interpreting this as undermining U.S. power, but I couldn’t agree with your premise.

            On the other hand, when the vital interests of other states conflict with trivial interest of our own, it’s hard to see the triumph of the vital over the trivial as a blow to our prestige or power.

            Agreed. But there are more than two fixed choices. We’re supposed to learn from events.

            I’d suggest that we did learn from Georgia. We haven’t been silly enough to rush into a military alliance with the Ukraine that would pointlessly alarm Russia. The Ukrainians do not seem to be emboldened into a reckless approach to the Russians on the assumption that the U.S. will back them up. That alone seems to be progress.

            If you had other lessons in line, I’m all ears. I’m highly skeptical of any that would suggest that the proper U.S. approach in the Ukraine involved threatening Russia with U.S. military intervention, and absent that element, all of the links between Obama’s supposed gutting of the military and the credibility of U.S. response in this crisis falls apart. If Putin invaded Crimea “because he could,” there’s no serious suggestion that a more bellicose U.S. president would have change Putin’s calculus. Only a madman in Washington would risk nuclear war over interests that, from the American perspective, are insignificant.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “And it’s still not clear how anything happening in the Ukraine is happening “at the expense” of our power. We have no historic interest in the Ukraine. We have no standing in this fight, as it were. If you want to paint this as occurring at the expense of our power, you’ll have to express more clearly what our legitimate interests are to begin with. If your basic position is that every dispute everywhere on the globe is properly subject to American intervention, then I’d understand you interpreting this as undermining U.S. power, but I couldn’t agree with your premise.”

            Putin and POTUS both take positions on the world stage. The criticism is about how POTUS uses that stage. There’s some criticism pointed towards Putin for not exactly leading the charge to build a true constitutional democratic republic in our image, but most people are realistic in their expectations.

            But unlike with Iran, it’s not very clear what our precise position should be. But the criticism is chiefly about how we articulate and support our positions.

            If this was the first “controversy” to come up, I doubt anyone would be very concerned at all. This is relatively trivial. But it’s also consistent with the trend that POTUS is shrinking American power to the detriment of those that love and care about freedom. And he’s not doing it with a pragmatic, realistic approach.

            We’re in his sixth year now. I think we’re entitled to point out patterns without necessarily having the ideal policy suggestion that fixes everything for each case as it unfolds. The pattern is a big part of the problem. This case is consistent with the patterns we object to.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “And it’s still not clear how anything happening in the Ukraine is happening “at the expense” of our power. We have no historic interest in the Ukraine. We have no standing in this fight, as it were. If you want to paint this as occurring at the expense of our power, you’ll have to express more clearly what our legitimate interests are to begin with.”

            Another aspect is that while we have (and desire) no sovereign interests, we want Ukraine and all people (to the degree that is realistic) to participate as free people in the global economy. Taking a productive region and coercively bringing it in line with a regime that once tried to destroy our interests around the world…that’s an obvious concern. Rather than participating freely in the global markets, Ukraine will have its resources (pooled with the Russian empire) aimed at us if the trend continues to re-consolidate past “Russian” satellites.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “On the other hand, when the vital interests of other states conflict with trivial interest of our own, it’s hard to see the triumph of the vital over the trivial as a blow to our prestige or power.”

            I agree as a rule. But we’re talking about Russia showing strong indications that it wants a reconstituted Russian coercive and coerced sovereign empire.

            And Russia is already involved with other sovereigns that threaten our interests. If you run through all the threats around the world and count them as virtually zero then of course this development is just another meaningless event as far as we should be concerned. But Russia wants us out of the Middle East, out of Europe and basically either back to the approximate stature we had prior to WWII or even WWI.

            You perhaps think that the imperial races are passe but they’re not. We wish they were, but that’s not the same as achieving something in reality.

            The entire problem with relying on international institutions is that we would need to depend too much on the good faith of hostile empires. Russia is one of them.

            Not only that but it’s possible that with a more consistently pragmatic approach that Russia could be an ally as close to us as the UK or France.

            Preparing for the consequences of hostile intentions is not the same as harboring them yourself. We need to be more careful and more pragmatic. Ideals are great as long as you don’t abandon reality.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “If you had other lessons in line, I’m all ears.”

            The most fundamental lesson is that no matter how much we want Russia to be a trustworthy friend, they clearly have superpower ambitions under a reconstituted Russian empire. And if certain shortcuts are necessary to achieve that before a smarter POTUS comes along, well it’s all seen as justified by the same greater good arguments that Stalin used.

            We probably can avoid any big or direct confrontations if we’re careful. If we’re stupid and delusional, we’ll be dealing with Czar Putin or his offspring before too long.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            “I’m highly skeptical of any that would suggest that the proper U.S. approach in the Ukraine involved threatening Russia with U.S. military intervention, and absent that element, all of the links between Obama’s supposed gutting of the military and the credibility of U.S. response in this crisis falls apart. If Putin invaded Crimea “because he could,” there’s no serious suggestion that a more bellicose U.S. president would have change Putin’s calculus. Only a madman in Washington would risk nuclear war over interests that, from the American perspective, are insignificant.”

            You’re inferring incorrectly. Reagan didn’t ever attack the Soviets directly. His approach was so sophisticated and nuanced that he actually led many to believe that the Soviet Union fell on its own accord.

            The huge space in between Reagan’s approach and that of our current leader is something that frightens people for the future of the nation.

          • hiernonymous

            The huge space in between Reagan’s approach and that of our current
            leader is something that frightens people for the future of the nation.

            It probably frightens people to the extent that they are convinced that Reagan’s approach was so sophisticated and nuanced that he actually led many to believe that the Soviet Union fell on its own accord.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            OK. Really the point is that there is a huge range of options here. Some more productive than others. Having a strong military behind our word is simply to back up our word should it come to that. Not that we’re dragging people to the OK Coral every time we’re annoyed.

            Many people deny Reagan had any significant effect on the Soviet Union coming to an end. That’s just ridiculous. Regardless of your views on Reagan’s impact on the Cold War, I’m sure you get the point. You can think of nationalists as delusional, but we’re not genocidal or vicious. We just have different ways of analyzing events. We look at factors other than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and class struggle.

          • objectivefactsmatter
          • objectivefactsmatter

            I forgot to mention that Russia had and has a range of choices in terms of getting what they need from Ukraine. This particular approach reads as though attacking our influence was a significant part of the decision matrix.

          • hiernonymous

            Could be. My impression is that they were caught flatfooted by the unexpectedly rapid fall of their man in Kiev and didn’t feel they had the time to respond with anything subtle. But I’m not expert on the region.

        • TheOrdinaryMan

          Russia has, for centuries, wanted a warm water port, and the oil of regions to the south and southwest. That means Iran and the Caspian Sea area. Thus any disturbance in the Ukraine and the Crimea is a perfect excuse to pursue these goals. As Daniel says, its about power; but its also about oil and access. And Russians don’t do anything “to help each other,” either.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            But…evolution…

          • CaoMoo

            Darwin was backwards monkeys were not evolving into people… but in fact people are evolving into monkeys well monkeys with cooler toys.

    • Lokalkosmopolit

      ”3/4 of the people in Ukrainian territory (including all of Eastern Ukraine) are Russian ” rare ignorance! Ethnic Russians make up mere 17% of the Ukrainian population and have a majority only in Crimea. When we were talking about the pro-Russian side in Ukraine, then this consisted mostly of Ukrainians, who for various reasons either feel close to Russia or have Russian as the native language. And I said ”consisted”, because it is unlikely that Russia has made many firends with the recent moves.

  • john spielman

    Putin is just “protecting the Russian speaking people of Ukraine” just like Hitler was protecting the Sudeten Germans from the Czechs, and Slovaks when he invaded the Sudetenland in 1938, followed by all of Czechoslovakia, then Poland, France…

    • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

      I was going to bring up that parallel … you beat me to it.

    • http://hotair.com/ SwiperTheFox

      I agree

      • BagLady

        Or maybe he just intends to get back the power lost.

  • paendragon

    Nonsense. Crimea is part of Russia; only Nikita Kruschev (who was himself Ukrainian) cut it off from Russia and attached it to Ukraine for his own political purposes.

  • A Ukrainian.

    Never in my life have I seen such a gang of idiots, with the author of the article at the lead, who with serious faces are talking about something they know nothing about.

  • http://hotair.com/ SwiperTheFox

    This is one of those times when you badly wish that we had a President that would take a strong line with a clear sense of morality to back him up: Someone like a Reagan or Truman in office!

    No need for boots on the ground, but there should be a clear sense that the U.S. will not just sit by letting a democratic movement be squashed!