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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Ukraine: Less of a partisan divide in Washington than over Syria, Iran

Perhaps reflecting an American public as fatigued over foreign interventions and just plain saber-rattling as most in the eastern United States are fatigued over the seemingly endless winter, we're not seeing as gaping a partisan divide in Washington over what the United States can do about the Russian military intervention in The Crimea.

Sure, some of President Obama's critics argue the President emboldened Vladimir Putin with Mr. Obama's foreign policy vacillations, for example, a "red line" drawn in Syria which shifted to pink, and then nearly white. But, no matter what happened in Syria, Putin arguably would've intervened in Ukraine anyway, given the toppling of the pro-Russian government in Kiev.

Consider this analysis from POLITICO - "Ukraine: The D.C. battle that wasn't"...


http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/ukraine-the-dc-battle-that-wasnt-104162.html?hp=f2]


You can hear my interview with a Ukrainian-American here in the Wilmington area who's been communicating with family members in Kiev...


Audio Here


From a free-lance journalist based in Moscow, this piece from The NEW REPUBLIC -- "Russia's War in Crimea Could Have Happened 20 Years Ago, but Didn't. This is What Changed"...


http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116825/russias-war-crimea-could-have-happened-20-years-ago-didnt


Here's something to ponder as well: Did successive U.S. Presidential administrations completely misread Vladimir Putin? Ex-President George W. Bush famously gazed into Putin's eyes and saw his soul. President Obama's administration attempted to reset U.S./Russian relations with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton leading the charge. (Will this come back to haunt her politically?)

From NATIONAL JOURNAL on line: "Why Putin Plays Our Presidents for Fools"...


http://www.nationaljournal.com/white-house/why-putin-plays-our-presidents-for-fools-20140302


To get something you're not getting very much in the U.S. media, consider this treatment of the Ukrainian story from the Voice of Russia; this includes a podcast of a panel discussion. Note one element which comes up frequently in the Russian treatment of the story, the allegation that the Ukrainian nationalists are xenophobic and neo-nazi. (I've noted before that the Ukrainian nationalist movement contains many elements, and Ukrainian history is rife with anti-Semitism.) We could be looking at a dangerous vicious circle: Russia's intervention in The Crimea only radicalizes Ukrainian nationalists, leading to a "provocation" which gives Putin an opening to respond...


http://voiceofrussia.com/us/2014_02_28/40th-VR-Live-Panel-Putting-Ukraine-before-a-Destructive-Choice-5594/


You can hear my interview with Voice of Russia analyst Dmitry Babich in Moscow...


Audio Here


Posted at 3:15pm on March 3, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

mrpizza
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 3:51pm
Regardless of whether or not Ukraine is independent or part of Russia, people there will still be better off by leaps and bounds than people in Belarus, which Russia considers to be an unwanted step-child.

kavips
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 5:19pm
I don't know. Whereas there is very little contention in Congress currently arguing over Ukraine, there is considerable debate in circles ignored by mass media.... Here are a couple of facts media outside the U.S. have brought up.

The Ukrainian interim government has not been elected and really doesn't have justified authority.

The Ukrainian interim government is flat broke; can't pay its army or civil servants.

The Ukrainian government is not really our idea of civilized society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrO41pna3cs#t=29

The Ukrainian Government is behind, and can't pay its Russian Gas Bill.

Large numbers of the Ukraine Government's own forces have resigned en masse and gone over to the Russians in Crimea.

The new Ukrainian interim government created the crises by dropping the Russian language from government activity. To judge the impact, imagine if Canada suddenly without warning went all English. No French.

Seeing those mobs storm the existing government sent fear in all those preferring Russia. What if they came next for them?

What if the Ukrainian army walked onto the base and took over the Russian navy? Can Russia allow that?

What would the U.S. do if civil unrest threatened our main Pacific port in San Diego; would we establish a safe zone as did the Russians? I should hope so.

If mobs move from Kiev to eastern Ukraine, does Russia not have an obligation to protect Russians in harm's way? Does the U.S. send ships to the capital of Liberia to protect U.S. Citizens? OF course... What Russia did is standard protocol and the U.S. has benefited from it many times.

Point of all this is to drive home the realization, that there is a lot more going on here than a simple power-grab by Putin. 10 years ago, the U.S. actually invaded a country to take its oil. Our yelling over Russia actually protecting its own interests is exceedingly hollow.

That said, the worst possible action by anyone is escalation. That includes the U.S. Any war talk by the McCain's and Lindsey Graham's, needs to be ridiculed by everyone in the world.

This can play out in either of two ways. World War I or World War II. In WWI, a silly set of catastrophes with many little points where anyone could have stopped the process by simply saying NO, created the devastation of Europe, which didn't really come out of its funk until this Century. 86 years later. Whereas in WWII, we had someone intent on world domination manipulating and outplaying the West, who really did want to go to war, but hid it from us with power grabs followed by non-aggression treaties and conciliatory gestures.

The answer to which scenario, lies in this question: Is Putin like Hitler, or more like Kaiser Wilhelm? It all depends on Putin. Is this a true power-grab, or as portrayed above, more like both the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, a temporary muscle-flexing to protect our self interests...(A rather flimsy excuse on our part btw. )

The Russians have far more right to go into Crimea than we ever had to go into Iraq... It was one of the Democrats' main arguments for NOT invading Iraq, if you remember. "How then can we tell others not to do, what we've just done?" was brought upon the floor of the Senate time and time again.

Creating WWIII over a nation protecting its own interests would be a giant mistake. But appeasing a monster as done in Munich, would be equally dangerous...

Here is what the Administration should do. Reach out to China; if this involves the world, it certainly involves China. It is highly critical that we try to bring China on our side. Continue to isolate Putin, so it is he against the world.

Then work for peaceful solution. Because as long as no one dies, everything is still temporary and can be reversed... Keep the naval base there just as we keep Guantanamo, make it Russian soil. Make Ukraine into a dual-language country, just like Canada, where two languages are on every sign and used in government. Declare neutrality as are Sweden and Switzerland, and by being unaligned, allow Ukraine to deal with both sides; whoever gives the better deal wins the competition... Ukraine as the breadbasket of Europe is in a great position to benefit from being in the middle of two very large and needy economies. It needs Europe's investment; it needs Russia's gas.... it can give both food.

Bottom line, is Ukraine needs $30 billion soon. Putin was willing to guarantee $15 billion if Ukraine came back to the Russian Camp... Putin has a great number of options. He can shut off the gas. He can drop the discount currently allowed to the Ukraine; He can stay in Crimea; he has popular support....

Against that, the U.S. only has global isolation (a tough sell based on how American's corporations have treated host nations) and sanctions (very weak possibility of ever occurring since Europe would then have no gas) and a donation of $30 billion dollars.






EarlGrey
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 5:52pm
Shouldn't the E.U. be the ones trying to "fix this" powergrab by Putin? If Putin sees he can get away with taking over Ukraine...why should he stop there?

EarlGrey
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 5:54pm
"That said, the worst possible action by anyone is escalation. That includes the U.S. Any war talk by the McCain's and Lindsey Graham's, needs to be ridiculed by everyone in the world. "~kavips

Amen to that..those two are fools.

mrpizza
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 6:58pm
I would agree with Earl that this is an E.U./NATO issue more than an American one. We have way too much on our plate as it is.

kavips
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 8:47pm
I'm passing this on because I just learned it... I was going to start with a joke that being "Merican: I gotta have my steak and taters...

Then I came across this... Tater (we used to call the Tarters) from where cream of Tarter and Tarter sauce supposedly originated, are a minority that only live on Crimea. They were accused by Stalin of switching to the Germans during the 2nd World War, and the removed all of them, sending them to camps and to Uzbekistan. Like Jews to Israel, they have slowly matriculated back, and here is their poorly written English website. Apologize for the English, but it is far better than my Russian.

http://qtmm.org/международный-форум

Essentially it calls upon the world to say that under Russians they will be persecuted, and therefore the safety of themselves, their family, and property, depend upon being part of the Ukraine. They only represent approximately 10-12% of Crimea itself, sources say...

Pizza can check my Russian for me...

This throws a wrinkle in letting the Russians keep Crimea. It throws the onus back on Ukraine to guarantee the safety of all Russian people, with enough guarantees so Russia will disengage and stand down.

(Also be skeptical of all reports out of Ukraine. There are quite a few opportunists putting fake videos on the web to generate personal income from YouTube by receiving millions of hits...)



kavips
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 9:16pm
Another facet.

Ukraine is one of the only countries to give up nuclear weapons. When it did, a treaty was signed by the United States, the U.K., Europe, and Russia forever guaranteeing its freedom and existence. Since then, France and China have also signed treaties guaranteeing the Ukraine's right to exist....

Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and India should be watching this very closely. If no one comes to the aid of the Ukraine, we are telling those three nations, that, yeah, you'd be better off keeping your nuclear arsenals and not listen to us, because assurances from the global powers aren't worth bunk...

So the protection of Ukraine's sovereignty is far more an event than post-Russian colonialism. It could have grave circumstance the world over.

This I believe gives the U.S. the moral authority to challenge Putin. Without this, we were spinning because our actions in Iraq were far more drastic than what just happened. But with this approach to the global community, we can come across as sort of like being joined in a community as with drunk friends, and one of them starts getting crazy, the others have to step it up and argue, convince, and contain him, hopefully before the bouncers get involved and fist start flying...

With this moral authority on our side we have a logical argument to give the rest of the world, as to why we need to fix the Ukraine in a way so everyone's interests are adequately represented.


kavips
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 9:31pm
Going back to Allan's original assertion. Just heard from the Hill that Cantor is trying to stir things up.. That original assertion might be debunked, tomorrow or Wednesday.

It will be about Election prospects... What I'm hearing is the old bull that if the U.S. had its finger on the nuclear button, and did not appear afraid to launch 1100 missiles over this unprovoked attack, this would never have happened..

This is just a pandering for more campaign donations from the military-industrial lobbyists... nothing more.

kavips
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 10:25pm
There is a problem with it just being the E.U.

That is the economic fact that Russia supplies 30% of Europe's gas. The second supplier, Norway, is at full tilt and cannot cover the deficit.

It would do to Europe what the Arabs did to us in the 70's except that back then, we didn't heat 100% of our homes with their oil. With that much leverage, there is very little E.U. can do, should it ride solo. But if it can say, my big brother will beat you up if you don't do this, it has somewhat more leverage.

This is the U.S.'s problem by default. We either own it, or concede. It would do well to recognize that Putin is in a position Hitler would have loved to have been in at the start of his conflicts in 1939. Now back to reality; Putin does not have close to the military capacity that Hitler had in formulating his master plan. Now if Russia had just spent $58 billion on a technologically advanced military, instead of Winter Olympic Games, this would certainly play towards a different scenario...

bgc
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 11:00pm
Russian actions in response to the Ukraine’s move toward the West are predictable vestiges of a worn-out historical analytics.

The Russians act on the Ukraine and Crimea out of fear that the Russian border with the Ukraine would be "unsafe" with an adjoining neighbor that might be friendly to the West. Hogwash. This mentality dominated western European thinking for much of the 17th to 20th centuries. It is based upon a notion of sovereignty and security that relies upon a "wall" mentality, i.e., countries had to wall off hostile countries from their common borders. Historically, Western European countries established "walls" using marital and/or military alliances with neighbors or, when that didn't or wouldn't work, they implanted sympathetic governments. With the modern advent of deeply ingrained international commerce/economic integration, universally greater freedom of movement between countries, modern military weaponry, and the internet, the "walls" mentality is ineffective as a means of securing national borders from unfriendly neighbors. It is ineffective because these "walls" simply cannot withstand modernity and all that it carries across national borders.

The only effective and viable response here is to threaten Russia’s permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. This is a price that they, and their allies, will not accept in exchange for the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Nothing about the U.N. Charter makes this impossible.

EarlGrey
Mon, Mar 3, 2014 11:03pm
The best solution I have heard so far would be for our country (and the other 6 nations) to remove Russia from the G8, and hold the next G8 meeting in Poland rather and Sochi, Russia.

kavips
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 1:30am
Taking the Soviets out of the Security Council would undermine the entire U.N. as the U.S. undermined the League of Nations by not ratifying the treaty. What's the point of a U.N. when you have a rogue nation on the outside? That is just what Hitler was throughout the 30's.... At least while you are yelling at each other, you aren't shooting. Best reason for keeping the U.N. around there ever was....

As for the G8... it isn't really much of a punishment. Sort of like not being invited to the most popular cheerleader's party... So you go to party with everyone who wasn't invited either... Those proposing it, like every cheerleader, overestimate their own popularity if they think not receiving an invitation is a punishment.

If I had to choose between protecting my warm water port or missing a G8 meeting, I'd choose the port too.

bgc
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 6:59am
Russia's seat on the Security Council gives it leverage that is disproportionate to its economic, social, and military power. If Russia were removed, it would represent a tremendous blow to Russia's international influence.

The point is not to remove Russia, but rather the threat to do it. Russia would take note and respond to U.S./European pressure. Sanctions, removing Russia from the G8, or boycotts carry unacceptable consequences and are otherwise ineffective.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 10:27am
I like Kavips' suggestion on how to handle this problem:

"Here is what the Administration should do. Reach out to China; if this involves the world, it certainly involves China. It is highly critical that we try to bring China on our side. Continue to isolate Putin, so it is he against the world.

Then work for peaceful solution. Because as long as no one dies, everything is still temporary and can be reversed... Keep the naval base there just as we keep Guantanamo, make it Russian soil. Make Ukraine into a dual-language country, just like Canada, where two languages are on every sign and used in government. Declare neutrality as are Sweden and Switzerland, and by being unaligned, allow Ukraine to deal with both sides; whoever gives the better deal wins the competition... Ukraine as the breadbasket of Europe is in a great position to benefit from being in the middle of two very large and needy economies. It needs Europe's investment; it needs Russia's gas.... it can give both food."


EarlGrey
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 1:02pm
Mike: The problem with kavips' China plan is that China agrees with Putin...

http://news.sky.com/story/1219922/russia-and-china-in-agreement-over-ukraine

If China backs Putin now...then Putin will back China when China tries to "reclaim" some islands they want.

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 1:14pm
EarlGrey: Well so much for the EASY solution. Frankly, I think Europe should handle this and we might want to be in the background cheering them on, definitely no money given, no troops, no weapons involved, etc, etc. Someone else's turn to bankrupt their nation for some foreign battle.


Mike from Delaware
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 6:09pm
Well friends and neighbors, sounds like the ole USSR is back. The Ruskies test-fired an ICBM. Great, just what the world needs is a trigger-happy Russia.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-test-fires-icbm-amid-tension-over-ukraine/

kavips
Tue, Mar 4, 2014 8:18pm
China currently does agree with Putin. They finally spoke up today. That is why if it can be considered to come to the U.S.'s side, it will have grave impact on the equation.

On the other hand, if Italy came to our side, whoop de doo.. That is why it is worth consulting China. Roosevelt was grooming Stalin even after Stalin had signed the partition act with Hitler. That helped develop the trust required to work around Hitler later on...

We shouldn't let that stop us from reaching out to China. In fact, because of our storied past, thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan, which side China takes will have an effect on how the world sees this...

So I agree with your assessments that China is a longshot, and I hope we expend some capital to try to win it over...

One way to do that is to say that if we don't honor this Budapest agreement with Ukraine over the giving up nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons will never be given up in the future. And who is downwind of the fallout if either Pakistan, India, Iran, and/or North Korea explode a weapon? China is. If it wants to lower the threat potential to itself, it needs to stand behind all nations sticking to their agreements when it comes to nuclear weapons...

As to threatening to yank Russia's U.N. Security Council seat, threats are pointless unless one is willing to deliver upon them... Everyone knows we won't deliver that one, so I think it would be even a mistake to make such a postulation.


mrpizza
Wed, Mar 5, 2014 4:42am
A trigger-happy Russia combined with a disarmed America.


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