Russia Didn't Invade Ukraine Because of US 'Weakness'

Whenever the United States fails to use violence abroad—a rarity—politicians and pundits howl about America’s “credibility” being at stake.

Obama and PutinWhite HouseOne of the more vivid political talking points to come out of Washington in the midst of Russia’s military incursions into Ukraine is that Russian President Vladimir Putin carried out such provocative actions because Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” on Syria and commence with a bombing campaign this past fall signaled to Putin he would not face consequences.

“I really believe that when Vladimir Putin looks around the world—sees what happened in Syria when the red line turned pink and the president didn’t act,” Republican Senator John McCain told CNN, “I think he’s emboldened and he’s acting.”

The Wall Street Journal, similarly, put it down to “Western weakness,” arguing “it's no coincidence that Mr. Putin asserted himself in Ukraine not long after Mr. Obama retreated in humiliating fashion from his ‘red line’ in Syria.”

The truth is, anyone who actually believes Putin took military action in Ukraine because Obama backed away from his plans to bomb Syria illegally, doesn’t know anything about international relations.

First of all, the most immediate parallel to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Ukraine’s semi-autonomous peninsula, is Russia’s 2008 military action in Georgia, another former Soviet state that was leaning too far West for Moscow’s comfort. Following violent skirmishes, Russian forces occupied Georgia’s separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

This happened during the George W. Bush administration, which was so willing to use military force that it invaded Iraq on trumped up pretexts and in violation of international law. If Moscow were taking its cues based on Washington’s willingness to use force, surely it would have held back in Georgia for fear of retaliation from the Bush administration.

Whenever the United States fails to act with violence abroad—a rarity, mind you—you have politicians and pundits howling about America’s “credibility” being at stake. If other countries see us backing down, goes the thinking, they won’t properly fear U.S. power and therefore they’ll be unrestrained in their actions.

Actually, the technical political science literature has largely put the “credibility” argument to rest. “There’s little evidence that supports the view that countries’ record for keeping commitments determines their credibility,” write two scholars who have studied the concept.

“The illusory belief of America's ability to shape, leverage, influence, sway, direct, or control foreign events is widespread within Washington's foreign policy community,” writes Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Its direct implication is that whenever or wherever things go wrong elsewhere on earth, it must be America's fault.”

Obama indeed foolishly drew a "red line" for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad: If chemical weapons were used in its civil war, he promised, the U.S. would use military force in Syria.

But when it looked like that red line had been crossed, the president found himself trapped in a box of his own making. As the administration began preparing for war, U.S. allies were unsupportive, the American people were strongly opposed, and it looked as if Congress would vote no.

In other words, if Obama had gone through with his promise to bomb Syria, the action would have had no international legitimacy and no Congressional consent. In fact, it would have been a war crime according to international law, which prohibits the use of force against another state without the approval of the UN Security Council or unless it preempts an imminent threat.

If anything, America’s utter disregard for international law gives license to other powerful countries, like Russia, to behave similarly.

“The steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Ukraine’s territorial integrity…they’re a violation of international law,” President Obama said this week.

It’s worth noting that this was exactly the argument Putin used in opposing Obama’s plan to bomb Syria. He even wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times warning that such action would violate Syrian sovereignty and international law.

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  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The war boners have been in full display on Fox this week. Mostly from helmet-haired blonde nitwits in solid color skirts. I wonder where they find so many of them.

  • ||

    Well, they've been waiting for a "proper" enemy to get rock hard over, and Russia sure qualifies. Little shitholes like Syria just don't get the engorgement going enough.

  • John||

    Can't we go back to having small enemies? I don't like Russia as an enemy.

  • ||

    That would be nice, John, but the hardcore WAR BONER crowd really, really wants a "real" one. Why do you think they've been low-level agitating about China for years and years?

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Low-level agitating, or low-level gyrating?

  • WTF||

    Low-level twerking.

  • Devil's Advocate||

    Who knew that the Dead Kennedys would turn out to be such prophets?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33pA31c2cfs

  • Sevo||

    If you want to point fingers at a lack of military balance to the Bear, point at the Euros who have sworn their populations would demand communist governments if they didn't keep handing out free shit instead of defending themselves.
    I say let Russia go all the way to Paris if Putin pleases; maybe someone over there will grow a pair.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Or the fact that they're completely neutered economically since they're dependent on Russian gas because the econuts have a free hand over there.

  • Tim||

    COLD WAR II: The Putining.

  • Waffen Hans||

    haha

  • John||

    No. They invaded the Ukraine because of their own weakness. To some degree I guess it was because of our "weakness". If they were convinced we were crazy enough to go to war over it, I bet they would not have done it. But I am not sure that is really a position we want to be in.

    It is their sphere of influence. We are not going to save Ukraine from its big nasty neighbor. But we can probably save the Baltic states and Poland. Those more within NATO's sphere and are actually worth defending and possible to defend. The art of diplomacy is diffusing situation while also saving face and making it clear to Russia that while the Ukraine may be their problem, the rest of Eastern Europe is not.

    Sadly, the idiots in charge are in no way up to this and we are likely going to end up in a war at some point after Putin finally miscalculates and goes too far.

  • WTF||

    Since Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic are all NATO members, we would be obligated to go to war if the Russians committed any incursions into those countries.

  • John||

    Under the NATO treaty, yes we would. And the odds are we would do that.

    That is why this situation is so dangerous. This is how big wars start. One side miscalculates and goes to far.

    Even though Obama is the village idiot and a complete chump, even he will go to war at some point. What we don't want to have happen is for Putin to miscalculate and find that point.

  • WTF||

    Even though Obama is the village idiot and a complete chump, even he will go to war at some point.

    Exactly, we just need to hope that Putin understands this with regard to eastern European NATO countries. This kind of gives you an understanding of how the events leading to WWI spiraled out of control so quickly.

  • tarran||

    Actually, Obama's idiocy makes war more likely.

    Libya, Syria, Iraq, Egypt... the Obama admin has been a walking clusterfuck of incoherence and playing to the cameras.

  • John||

    yes it does. His weakness, unpredictability and general idiocy make it much more likely Putin or someone else will miscalculate.

  • Nyarlarrythotep||

    Actually some of those are places he managed not to go to war with. I like that.

  • ||

    It's to early to tell, but Putin may have made a catestrophic blunder.

    Personally, I think this incursion will drive the Ukraine into the arms of the West. And we're not going to just shove them back into Russia's grasp.
    They may get the Crimea out of this, but at the cost of alienating the Ukranian population.

    Putin only has one option, realistically, at this point. He must accept that Ukraine will gravitate to the West, and Russia itself will eventually follow. Which means Putin will become obsolete. There will be no greater Russia. There will be no recreation of the Soviet Empire.

  • bassjoe||

    Half of the Ukrainian population considers themselves to be Russian -- heck, the last president didn't even speak Ukrainian very well -- so I'm not sure about alienating the entire country.

    I think we're beginning to see the break up of the former Soviet republics which might have made sense from an administrative point of view during USSR times but don't make sense from a ethnic point of view.

  • ||

    Cite?

    1/3 of Ukranians speak Russian as their native language. That includes ethnic Russians and Ukranians who speak Russian as their first language.

    That means 2/3 of the population is ethnically Ukranian and speaks Ukranian. Idon't know where you get to 50% of them "consider themselves Russian".

  • ||

    Also, Ukranians do have a distinct ethnic identity. They aren't an amalgamation like Yugoslavia.

  • JeremiahtheProphet||

    The Moscow Times seems to think that 45% of Ukranians speak Russian, 45% speak Ukranian, and 10% speak both. And while the official census is 16% Russian, (the claim is its more like 25%) http://www.themoscowtimes.com/.....95740.html
    Now I know one should consider the source of her or his propaganda, but I'll take that data as or less correct. I also think the article as a whole is slanted to Putin's advantage, but makes some valid points.

  • JeremiahtheProphet||

    more of less .. doh.

  • ||

    Considering that paper is agitating for War on the grounds that evil anti-Russian ukranians are oppressing the Russians, I would definitely take their statistics with a grain of salt.

  • ||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine

    According to the 2001 census, 67.5 percent of the population declared Ukrainian as their native language and 29.6 percent declared Russian.[226]

    http://web.archive.org/web/200...../language/

  • nova3930||

    Putin is a lot of things but I don't think stupid is among them. And yes, even feckless Obama will start shooting if Russia starts bombing NATO members but Ukraine isn't NATO and Putin knows that.

    In fact, I'd bet that's exactly why Putin is taking this course of action. For him it's a very low risk way to put the US/EU in a no win situation. Technically we're obligated via the Budapest Memorandum to defend the Ukrainian borders, an obligation we're probably unwilling to meet by using military force. In that light, Putin can take the Crimea and force us into a situation where we back out of a treaty obligation unilaterally. An action that will undermine our credibility with current and potential allies.

    Functionally greater Ukraine was probably lost from Russian influence anyway, they get the Crimea with Russian speakers and their naval bases and they undermine our influence all in one fell swoop.

    And there are parallels to Georgia. I think in that instance as well, Georgia was ostensibly an ally, but one we weren't willing to go to war over. Therefore he does what he wants...

  • ||

    Technically we're obligated via the Budapest Memorandum to defend the Ukrainian borders, an obligation we're probably unwilling to meet by using military force. In that light, Putin can take the Crimea and force us into a situation where we back out of a treaty obligation unilaterally. An action that will undermine our credibility with current and potential allies.

    That's exactly why Putin is stupid. If you want your enemy to back down, you don't put his back against a wall.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    The "legitimate" govt in Ukraine was ousted by the US backed rebels. The "defense" of the borders would have to be for the re-establishment of the ousted govt.

  • ||

    The goverment of the Ukraine was ousted by the Ukranian people after that government proved to be incompetent, corrupt, and oppressive. When you shoot protestors in the street, you lose your right to govern.

  • JWatts||

    " Technically we're obligated via the Budapest Memorandum to defend the Ukrainian borders"

    No, we are not obligated to defend the Ukrainian borders.

    "1.Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.
    2.Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
    3.Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
    4.Seek United Nations Security Council action if nuclear weapons are used against Ukraine.
    5.Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Ukraine.
    6.Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.....Assurances

  • tarran||

    I don't really think Putin will miscalculate, though. He seems pretty adept at the whole tyrant thing. Of course, it only takes one misstep...

  • John||

    You just never know. I really don't like taking the chance at all.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Of course, with tyrants, the key to understanding them is what their actions get them domestically.

  • ||

    Maybe this WAS the misstep.

  • JeremiahtheProphet||

    If one believes the numbers coming out of Moscow, Putin thinks the majority of people in the Ukraine will side with him. Does that mean he will annex the Crimea or put someone he likes in charge? He doesn't even have to be that aggressive if he can keep Ukraine out of the EU.

  • ||

    He can't keep the Ukraine out of the EU. It's too late for that.
    Invading the Crimea sealed it's fate.

    You think that the Ukranian people are ever again going to vote for a Russian-aligned government?

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    "It is their sphere of influence"

    Oh, did the Ukrainians agree to this? I thought Ukraine was in the Ukrainian "sphere of influence".

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    "making it clear to Russia that while the Ukraine may be their problem"

    I'd say the Ukrainians are finding out that Russia is their problem.

  • John||

    No. But sometimes life is like that. Russia is a bigger neighbor and if they want to play local bad boy with Ukraine, there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

  • WTF||

    Yes, the point is whether we are willing to go to war with Russia to enforce Ukraine's sovereignty. The answer is (and should be) no.

  • ||

    Well if it comes to the point that the Russians invade Ukraine proper, and we start seeing pictures on TV of Ukrainians getting killed by Russian troops, that could definitely change.

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    "Ukraine proper"

    You have redrawn thier borders, have you?

  • ||

    I'm pretty much assuming that Crimea is part of Russia, for all intents and purposes.

  • WTF||

    That's "intensive porpoises" dammit!

  • WTF||

    And I still don't see why the uS should go to war with Russia over them invading Ukraine.

  • ||

    I'm not saying we should. I'm saying that it would be very hard not to. There would be pictures of European-looking white people getting killed on TV, and refugee camps in Poland and Hungary.

    That said, I doubt Putin is that stupid. He will stop at the Crimea.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Nonsense. It would be very easy not to.
    1) China is actively backing Russia
    2) These two hold over 25% of US debt and could easily crash the US economy
    3) US has few military assets in the area
    4) Americans didn't want war in Syria, they DEFINITELY don't want war with Russia.
    5) Obama is perceived as a pussy

  • ||

    @Kyfho Myoba

    I certainly hope your views are not
    representative of what Putin thinks, because I don't want ot get nuked any more than you do.

  • ||

    Oh, and ... China holding US debt? HAHAHA. When you do to war, all debts are cancelled. Sucks to be the Chinese.

  • JWatts||

    Well, I certainly don't believe that it's likely the US will go to war in the Ukraine, but it's possible.

    "2) These two hold over 25% of US debt and could easily crash the US economy"

    You got the causation wrong on this. China holding a large percentage of our debt, gives the US leverage over China.

    Remember, we've got their money. They've got a bunch of IOU's.

  • Mercutio||

    When you owe the bank a little money, the bank owns you. When you owe the bank a lot of money, you own the bank.

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    Who said anything about the US going to war?

    What if the Ukrainians decide something on their own, like "we don't want a bleeding hunk torn off our country, let us fight back!" Seems like some here have simply decided that hunk is Russia, the end.

  • ||

    That's not going to happen.

    The Crimea is ethnically Russian and was only attached to Ukraine because Khrushchev decreed it in 1954.

  • Mickey Rat||

    There are some things that can be done about it, but those rapidly go from bad to horrible.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Sadly, the idiots in charge are in no way up to this and we are likely going to end up in a war at some point after Putin finally miscalculates and goes too far.

    Because it couldn't possibly be the US/NATO miscalculating and going too far.

    Not defending Putin, just saying "our" side has a comparable share of arrogance.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I'd argue the miscalculation ALREADY came from the EU and its idiotic "green" initiatives for global warming. Now they are even more dependent on natural gas supplies from a country they would never allow into NATO. How colossally stupid is that?

  • Rhywun||

    Germany is already ramping their coal mines back up again so they're not that stupid.

  • JWatts||

    Until they ramp their Nuclear power plants back up, I'm not willing to put them in the not stupid category.

  • JWatts||

    And in any case, Germany buys 25% of Russian natural gas. There is no way that Germany can replace that big an energy source quickly.

    Russia has Germany by the balls.

  • Zeb||

    It seems like Russia just wants to be the big player in its former empire (or the part that was the USSR anyway). Seems unlikely that they would get into the rest of Europe, particularly considering NATO treaties. I don't think Putin is any kind of fool and he has a pretty good idea of what he can get away with without starting a serious war with a country capable of threatening Russia.

  • DarrenM||

    Credibility is simply doing what you say you will do. Competence in doing it is another matter.

  • WTF||

    Could the difference in body language between Obama and Putin in that photo be any clearer?

  • sarcasmic||

    The Putin vs Obama memes are pretty funny.

    My favorite shows on one side Putin firing some cool looking handgun, and on the other Obama throwing a baseball like a girl.

  • steve walsh||

    As if to say, "I am Vladimir Putin, these are my big awesome balls, and you are my bitch." accented by the slight slouch.

  • WTF||

    Yeah, and Obama's all crumpled in on himself, like a little boy afraid of taking up too much space.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    This happened during the George W. Bush administration, which was so willing to use military force that it invaded Iraq on trumped up pretexts and in violation of international law. If Moscow were taking its cues based on Washington’s willingness to use force, surely it would have held back in Georgia for fear of retaliation from the Bush administration.

    Blasphemy among the Peanuts here!

    NO FAIR!

  • John||

    yeah because what Russia is doing to Ukraine is so much different that what Clinton did to Serbia regarding Kosovo.

    Kosovo didn't have a single legal basis to stand on. It was a completely illegal act of aggression committed in violation of international and US law. It was also fought by means of terrorizing the civilian population.

    Russia's incursion into the Ukraine is no worse and probably better than that. But Clinton set the precedent. Putin is just following.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • tarran||

    AAAAAHHH!

    Can you guys please stop making it think it matters by interacting with it?!?

    It doesn't understand that you are rebutting it. IT doesn't understand it's making a fool of itself.

    By encouraging it, you are only ensuring that it will continue to hurt itself!

    Please ignore it and let it find the pathetic ersatz happiness which is the best that a non-sentient wreckage of what was once a human being can find.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "yeah because what Russia is doing to Ukraine is so much different that what Clinton did to Serbia regarding Kosovo."

    We should have stayed out of Kosovo (and everywhere else imo), but there was some ethnic cleansing/attempted genocide stuff going on there that is simply not present in Eastern Ukraine that I have heard of.

  • Invisible Finger||

    If anything, it seems like the new regime wants to do some ethnic cleansing.

  • John||

    The only genocide that happened in Kosovo was Kosovar Albanians killing Serbs after we forced the Serbs to leave.

    The claims of "genocide" were lies.

  • Jordan||

    You still don't understand the difference between a valid comparison (as in this article), and a tu quoque (as in every argument you ever make)?

  • WTF||

    It's because he is a sockpuppet run by a gang of drooling idiots.

  • ||

    Hey, Tulpa's had a rough week! He's trying!

  • General Butt Naked||

    I think the drooling idiots are the ones wasting time responding to it.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Them apples aren't going to turn to oranges without some squeezing.

    I don't know if that even makes sense but I like it.

  • WTF||

    Holy fuck you're a moron, shreeky.

  • Tim||

    "Putin is Hitler" is the meme du jour. I think it is more a case of Putin is afraid of being ousted by a Ukrainian style uprising.

  • ||

    There is that too.
    The more the Ukraine leans to the West, the more likely it is that Russia will follow. Putin may see his own fate in Yanukovych's.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Putin can't look like a pussy to his people. He's supposed to be a strong guy, protecting Russia and advancing her resurgence on the world stage. Of course, the problem for Putin is that Russia actually isn't a great economic or military power and likely would blow to pieces if he pushed things hard enough, but that problem isn't a problem right now because of the totally shitty leadership in Europe and in the U.S.

  • ||

    Which is why the only way out of this is to allow Russia to keep the Crimea.
    But it has to be done in a way that doesn't embolden Russian revanchists. Which is tricky. We can't look like pussies either.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Give it to the UN, with a corridor to the Free City of Danzig. I mean, Crimea.

  • ||

    IMO, the correct outcome is to negotiate for Crimea to hold a referendum on independence, and require the Russians to pull back to their bases for the vote. And get international monitors in there to watch the vote, etc.

    Assuming the Crimeas vote to separate, they can invite the Russians back. But we get the appearance of having the forms of peaceful democracy obeyed, and then the rest of the Ukraine is remains territorially intact. And we strengthen our relationship with the rest of the Ukraine. The new government remains in power, and Ukraine shifts closer to the EU.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That would be a fiction, of course, because the Russians would absolutely fix that election, observers or no.

  • ||

    Maybe, but I suspect that they would win legitimately. Something like 75% of the Crimea is ethnic Russian.

    It was only attached to the Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954.

  • JWatts||

    According to Wiki only 58% of Crimea is ethnic Russian. And, are we sure all of those ethnic Russians would gladly join Russia?

    I'm thinking the vote wouldn't be a sure thing. So, I'm doubtful that Putin would ever risk putting it to a vote.

  • ||

    A vote for joining Russia might not be, but a vote for secession might.

    The referendum the Russian's are planning says something like "Crimea is an independent state that is part of the Ukraine by treaty".

    Of course, Russia wants to keep as large an ethnic Russian population in the Unkraine as possible for their votes. They might not actually want them to secede.

  • wareagle||

    We can't look like pussies either.

    unfortunately for us, that look will be determined by the man who hates decision-making more than anything. You go from voting present in IL to casting meaningless after-the-fact votes in the US Senate to being THE decider. And it's about foreign policy, which motivates Obama almost as much as spending a night at the Palin household.

  • Pro Libertate||

    One way to avoid that is to not make empty threats. We can threaten certain economic and diplomatic actions, because we can back them up. However, no one on the planet thinks we're willing to go to war over Ukraine. We might over Eastern Europe, because of NATO, which is why Putin wouldn't try this in, say, Poland.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Putin doesn't care. If civilization ends, he knows how to hunt and fish.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    ""Putin is Hitler" is the meme du jour."

    And everyone who is not seen as being tough enough in opposing him is going to be Neville Chamberlain.

    I disagree with Eddie quite a lot, but he had a brilliant line about how for the neocons every day is Munich with Chamberlain.

  • Tim||

    Yeah.

  • gaoxiaen||

    For the Russians, every month is August 1914.

  • DJF||

    Another leaked phone call. This one between the EU and Estonian foreign ministers. Doubts about who shot the protesters.

    Phone call confirmed by Estonian government.

    http://rt.com/news/ashton-maid.....tonia-946/

  • Jerry on the boat||

    What are the odds, there also this soccer match between the Ukraine and Team USA today. The CIA is working overtime.

  • Jon Lester||

    Got two more for you, from the Estonian Foreign Ministry and Moon of Alabama.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Physicians treating the wounded and performing the autopsies said the bullets killing both police and protesters were the same. Other evidence points to snipers "hired" by US backed protesters/insurgents.

  • JWatts||

    You guys are pretty firmly moving into coocoo land.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Does the whole warning against a "land war in Asia" apply to Russia or other asianic countries?
    Just checking for a friend.

  • Jon Lester||

    I think a good rule of thumb would be to ignore anyone who underestimates their resolve.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I certainly wouldn't want to take Russia during the winter.

  • General Butt Naked||

    You fucks doing anything special for Ash Wednesday?

  • gaoxiaen||

    Converting primo bud into ash. How about you?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, I know it's Pat Buchanan, but he can make some decent points when it comes to non-intervention.

    http://www.humanevents.com/201.....war-party/

  • Jon Lester||

    I've become a regular viewer of "The McLaughlin Group" again in recent months in large part because Buchanan has emerged as the most articulate and sober voice out there for foreign policy matters.

  • wareagle||

    Buchanan has been consistent in this regard. He was among the few conservatives against the Iraq war from the start.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Buchanan was drinking buddies with H. S. Thompson which is reason enough to like 'im. He is supposedly a very good drinker.

  • ||

    Are you serious?
    Cite please

  • Pro Libertate||

    This strikes me as interesting in the same way as I was fascinated to learn that Elvis was a huge fan of Monty Python. It's true, and it's better than I expected from reality.

  • wareagle||

    Obama's red line was not a necessary cause for Putin, but it may well have been a sufficient one. It told Putin who Obama is, what level of genuine US pushback he might expect, and how allies would react to a US president making such a statement. But, of course, the red line was about icky Muslims, not sophisticated Europeans.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The really interesting part of this, in the larger foreign relations sense, is the split among the new EU and the old guard. The latter are pissed, but the former are freaking out and want the U.S./NATO to slap down the Russians hard. For some odd reason, Eastern Europe fears the Russians.

  • wareagle||

    the former got fat and happy with the US defense budget being their de facto defense budget. The former is not far enough removed from the Wall tumbling to have forgotten what life used to be. Yup, you are right.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's the one big, albeit long-term, stick we have here. Re-militarize Europe. Germany and France have a core they could build around and could easily build, in a fairly short time, an army that's several times larger and decades more advanced than the Russians.

    People say that Putin laughs at that suggestion, but the last thing on Earth he wants is Europe being a military counterpoise to Russia without the U.S. Because he can rely on the U.S. refraining from direct action so long as the EU is untouched.

    And Europe, as fucked up as it is, is much, much bigger economically than Russia and can afford this if they decide they give a shit. What would be interesting is what that would mean for their welfare states.

  • wareagle||

    I wonder how big a pill this would be for the Euros to swallow. Their welfare states grew fat on the basis of the US taxpayer funding their defense. Offloading that cost onto them is going to cost a few people their free ponies. I am totally in favor of it, but there will be heartburn.

    As a bonus, our defense spending can be reduced, although I fear a horde of politicians will simply figure out ways of using to grow the American welfare state rather than as the impetus to cut spending.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I could see Germany doing it and maybe some of the eastern countries ramping things up. France could, assuming they're willing to take the hit to their beloved socialist utopia.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Bizarre as it may seem in retrospect, there were serious attempts before WWII between Nazi Germany and the Polish government to team up to contain Soviet Russia.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, wasn't the Polish government quasi-fascist in its own right? At least authoritarian?

  • DarrenM||

    I the money is there, it will be spent. It's like steping on one end of an air bed. Cut one thing and something else will go up (plus a little more probably).

  • The Last American Hero||

    Western Europe has appalling unemployment rates for its youth. Perhaps you just shift the welfare and college money over the defense dept. Problem solved.

  • Sevo||

    ..."Re-militarize Europe. Germany and France have a core they could build around and could easily build, in a fairly short time, an army that's several times larger and decades more advanced than the Russians."...

    In order for this to happen, the French would have to work more than 15 hours/week.
    Not going to happen.

  • ||

    For some odd reason, Eastern Europe fears the Russians.

    Can't imagine why.

    What is interesting is that an alliance is supposed to be a two-way street. Did we let them into NATO so they could help us out with a few soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, or were we actually serious about defending their borders?

    Right now they are probably wondering about that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think we are serious about defending the rest of Europe. If Russia were doing this with Poland, there would be a real possibility of a bad, bad war.

  • ||

    I think there is a real possibility of it if it invades the rest of the Ukraine.

    We just witnessed a popular western oriented democratic uprising. We're not about to sit there and watch it be violently crushed like some sort of bad re-run of Prague 1968.

  • MarkinLA||

    The problem is giving out assurances you can't keep. Ukraine gave away it's nukes for a piece of paper. The US had no business handing out nuclear guarantees to countries we really don't have significant ties to and can't really defend except by starting a nuclear war.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Residents of frequently overrun buffer states often have this phobia. Who knows why.

  • bassjoe||

    Ukraine is in no way a threat to Russia.

    Why is Putin doing this? The best way to control a population at home is to send young men/women into some warzone based on some exaggerated threat. It's even better when that warzone features a weak/divided adversary such that victory can be proclaimed after minimal engagement. Patriotic strength!

    Also, judging from his last press conference, Putin seems to be losing his mind. And we all know you can't stop crazy.

  • John||

    He is doing this because Russia is facing a population implosion. They don't want Ukraine. The want the ethnic Russian population.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's like the reverse of Lebensraum, eh?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Russia is doing this because they use border countries as a safety mechanism since they have no natural borders between themselves & Europe. This is a consistent part of their foreign policy and can be seen anytime any of those countries attempt "independence" in any major way.

    The US knows this and prefers an insecure Russia with border state issues as it reduces Russia's ability to influence other international movements away from US interests.

    For instance - a more secure Russia failed to comply with Iranian sanctions and continued to sell oil and natural gas to Iran under the auspices of "humanitarian energy needs".

    On war: I doubt the US will go to war over this even if Russia pushed a full scale invasion.

    Sure it's nice to talk about, but even if the current administration wanted to, the US does not (war fatigue), and the troops are routinely busy these days making it difficult to deploy a significant force, with all support troops, in yet another theater of operation.

    & as others have noted - even if Europe could fight their own wars; many of those countries, including Germany, have strong economic ties to Russia which would be very painful if interrupted.

    As for Putin being stupid - if you believe that, you should probably check your premises. Given his history and the current administration's history - the good money would be riding on another W for Putin.

    & so far - I fail to see any evidence this outcome will be any different than the others...

  • MarkinLA||

    There is really nothing the US can do. The Black Sea has too many choke points for the US to send significant troops and equipment that way. Any build up in Europe would take months to achiever. In either case, Russian satellites alert Russia who would probably preemptively occupy eastern Ukraine and Crimea with full battle ready divisions. NATO would not want to have to deal with that situation.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Russian Anschluss.

  • MarkinLA||

    Maybe he is doing it because Putin and Russia have had enough of the US rubbing the cold war in it's face. Reagan gave assurances to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand if the Warsaw Pact nations were allowed to decide their own fate.

    Reagan and Bush I kept the promise. Clinton let the neocons left behind talk him into breaking that promise. Bush II went ever father courting Ukraine and Georgia into becoming NATO members.

    Let's keep kicking a powerful country like Russia while they're down while at the same time saying they are your friends.

  • Response||

    Politics change and politicians evaluate the circumstances at hand. You can't really look at history to point out what any particular president would do. The only pattern I see is that you don't fuck with someone with a nuke at the ready.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Even if it was perceived US weakness, wouldn't having even more of our military tied up in additional wars in Syria, Lybia, Egypt, and Iran make us look even weaker? Ending up like Gulliver, tied down by dozens of Liliputian foreign entanglements, isn't a recipe for getting other countries to fear our wrath.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Lili-Putin entanglements?

  • Cletus Starfish||

    "Quelling a separatist movement." Wow. Even if you disagree with the U.S. Balkan interventions, there's no need to sugarcoat what was happening there.

    It always irks me when my fellow libertarians feel that principled opposition to military intervention isn't enough; they have to actively whitewash some horrible events in the world in order to rationalize it.

  • Kevin47||

    I have seen much distinction here between the Ukraine and Poland, for the reason the latter is a NATO ally. I am curious as to why, empirically, we should make that distinction. Is it just personal opinion, or can it be argued from purely Libertarian grounds.

    Not a loaded question. Just genuinely curious.

  • steve baker||

    Then again, Russia didn't not invade Ukraine because of US strength?

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Stating that the Ukraine is "another former Soviet state" is misleading. However imperfectly, the Ukraine was part of the vast Russian Empire built by the Princes of Moscow and the Tsars (Kings) of Russia over a period of many centuries. The Bolsheviks (Communists) legally inherited that empire when they took it over in 1917 and renamed it the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) otherwise known as the Soviet Union.

    When the USSR because Russia once again in 1991, the Ukraine saw it as a good opportunity to separate as did other areas of the former Russian Empire/Soviet Empire and did so. This was a huge loss for Russia because it needs the warm water ports of the Crimea (where a summer palace of the Kings of Russia is located by the way) and the wheat and natural gas of the Ukraine. If Putin is building a barrier to distance the Ukraine from the west, maybe that's because Russians have always been attacked from the west, first by Napoleon and then by the Nazis, with devastating effects. And let's not forget that the Ukrainians were the biggest collaborators of the Nazis in World War II. So folks, all Russia is doing is reclaiming an area which is historically linked to Russia.

  • Sevo||

    ..."And let's not forget that the Ukrainians were the biggest collaborators of the Nazis in World War II."...

    Cite missing.

  • MarkinLA||

    The Ukrainians were the people most devastated by the policies of the USSR under Stalin. They were the ones who starved while the grain was being sent to the cities.

    Regional officers would report big gains in grain production to stay in favor with the government in Moscow. When those gains didn't occur the peasants own supply of grain was taken. If they hid grain, they were treated as criminals and forced into slave labor camps.

    When the Germans first appeared they were treated as liberators. Hitler because of his hatred of all things Slavic murdered them anyway and any help he got quickly disappeared.

    There is no evidence of widespread collaboration although some Ukrainians were in SS units.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.....xis_powers

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    Look it up yourself and give me a cite. I think you will find plenty of documentation to confirm this. Otherwise, is there anything else you don't like about my comment? Also, where are your opinions? Do you agree or disagree with what I have said regarding this subject?

  • Sevo||

    On The Road To Mandalay|3.5.14 @ 10:50PM|#
    "Sevo,
    Look it up yourself and give me a cite."

    So you admit you're bullshitting? Thanks.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Actually I'm not bullshitting. I have numerous cites I could give to you. However, since I have dealt with you before, and you have always been so hostile towards anything I say, you are not going to get a cite. However, you can pretend that I gave you a cite, and then magically transfer it to a cucumber, which you can then ram up your asshole without benefit of lubrication. Have a nice evening you stupid f---ing moron. Go ahead and disprove anything I said in my original comments about the Ukraine-Russia situation. I'll be looking for your comments on this site in the future so you had better cit everything you say f--kwit. Adios.

  • Sevo||

    On The Road To Mandalay|3.5.14 @ 11:19PM|#
    "Actually I'm not bullshitting. I have numerous cites I could give to you."

    But somehow, that's just too difficult, right?
    Bullshitters always have excuses.

  • Sevo||

    Let's put it another way:
    I've spent quite a bit of time studying WWII; it casts a long shadow.
    So when someone makes a claim that doesn't begin to match with what I've read, I ask for a cite.
    And when that person says 'look it up yourself', it's an odds-on bet that the claim is so much bullshit invented to support some agenda.
    So, bullshitter, consider yourself busted.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    Go ahead and cite what you have read you f---ing Asshole. I will be waiting for your cites on this issue, and everything else that you say on this site in the future.

    In the meantime, stick your index finger up your bung hole, pretend it is a cite from me, and then lick it.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    Want to exchange insults? You found the right person.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    No further comments. You are about as worthless as a piece of dried up dog crap on a side road in New Mexico on a very hot day. One last question, are you an abortion that lived? Just curious.

  • Sevo||

    On The Road To Mandalay|3.5.14 @ 11:36PM|#
    "Sevo,
    No further comments."

    So you ran out of bullshit? What a shame!

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    You still have not answered my question. Are you an abortion that lived? Don't worry, I always have plenty of b s for those of your ilk. You can count on it. Have a great March 6 f--- wit.

  • Kevin Bjonrson||

    There is no "international law" requiring the US (or any nation) to get UN approval before launching war, whether pre-emptive or not. If there were, it would violate the US constitution as well as natural law.

    What if a majority in the UN wanted to destroy the US and authorized attacks on us? Would that make it right?

    I notice that the author writes for Al Jazeera.

  • MarkinLA||

    This is another reason why "democracy" doesn't work. There are millions of incredibly stupid people who's vote can be decided simply because one politician will accuse another of "losing" some insignificant country or "not standing up to" some other countries leader, regardless of how unimportant the events are to the US in general.

    As long as you have that, you will have this "weakness" argument.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    MarkinLA,

    Thanks for your comments. The keys words are: "millions of incredibly stupid people." The original idea of a democracy for the United States was the hope that the majority of Americans would be somewhat intelligent and reasonably educated. However, that has not turned out to be the case.

  • MarkinLA||

    It doesn't exist anywhere. Even Churchill supposedly said that you disavow your belief in democracy just by talking with a typical voter for 5 minutes.

    How many Russians actually loved Stalin? As long as he wasn't murdering them or one of their family members, they probably liked that tough guy stuff.

  • JAlejandroA||

    I like how these "libertarian" sites and writers more often than not have to state their point by having to disqualify everybody else who see things differently. This one is about the fifth in a row of such writings where the author places himself as the one who really knows and everybody else as someone who "doesn’t know anything about international relations."

    Yet, a search for his credentials as an international relations expert shows nothing as such except that he is a "freelance journalist". A glance at his articles seem to be of the same kind of highly opinionated and ideologically predetermined kind as this one.

    Our expert goes on to say, "George W. Bush administration, which was so willing to use military force that it invaded Iraq on trumped up pretexts and in violation of international law" repeating and joining in the Democrat talking-points and yet failing to quote what was the law that was violated.

    The moral and legal equivalence the author makes between three different actions, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine actually shows either his strong bias which prejudices beforehand his judgment of the events or ignorance of the international laws he claims to know.

  • JAlejandroA||

    In the case of Syria the Obama admin. was indeed (surprisingly, as much as they claim moral superiority) about to commit a possible violation of law in acting so unilaterally against Syria. Russia in Ukraine is violating Ukraine's sovereignty, at face value. In Iraq, there was the UN "coalition of willing nations" clause to support the intervention, not to mention 19 previous resolutions, resulting from the UN authorized intervention in 1991.

    And this is such a comical and grotesque exaggeration from this self-proclaimed authority in international relations and international law, that I'm going to keep it as an example of confusion:

    "And of course there is the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which is a model example of the clearest violation of international law. It fit the description of what a Nuremberg Tribunal judge called “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” So there he goes making a moral equivalence between Bush and Hitler. And again, what law?

    Should there be any surprise that this "libertarianism" is not taken seriously among voters? It is easy to understand then why these same "libertarians" saw Obama and Romney as exactly the same, and we got stuck with Obama.

  • JAlejandroA||

    In the end he clearly expresses where his confusion is, and his confusion clearly stems from biases that conflate "availability of force", "threat of force" with "violence". His reasoning reminds me of the same reasoning of anti-gun, anti-2nd Amendment advocates:

    "When people see the actions of Russia, or some other government, as the result of alleged “weakness” on the part of the U.S. for failing to more readily bomb whatever country at the drop of a hat, what they are really advocating is for America to rule the world by force."

    So I guess that when defenders of the 2nd Amendment ridicule "gun-free zones" in schools what they are really advocating is not for the 2nd Amendment and the right to self-defense but for ruling their communities by force?

    He spends his time writing an article to say that "availability of force", "threat of force" (confused with "violence") doesn't work as deterrent but then ends with this:

    "As any mafia don knows, the threat or use of violence can be an effective way to enforce obedience." !!!!

    He could have said this from the start and save me from reading another typical diatribe:

    "But if that’s how the U.S. is supposed to act on the world stage, advocates should have the courage to say it, and drop the usual platitudes about self-determination, international law, and American “credibility.”"

    Whether that is "how the U.S. is supposed to act on the world stage" is another matter. In the end, the writer argued against himself.

  • The Tingler||

    JAlejandroA

    Maybe it’s just me, but your comments don’t seem to have a unifying subject or point of view, or maybe you can help me out and (in one sentence) tell me what that subject is?

  • MarkinLA||

    Bush did invade on trumped up pretexts. Don't tell me you actually believe Colin Powell's dog and pony show at the UN. He had an empty bad and everybody with any street smarts at all could see it.

    Going to war against a country that has not attacked you, and is not threatening you is a serious business. Doing it with a pack of lies hiding behind old UN resolutions and comments by politicians 10 years old is kind of a joke, except for the US soldiers who died for nothing.

  • MarkinLA||

    empty bag

    I should use the preview more often.

  • CHEMTRAILS||

    United States of North America invaded Hawaii, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. on false pretexts. Now Hawaii are part of the USA and there are huge poppy fields in Afghanistan protected by the US military. How many innocent victims killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military just for fun's sake? If USA self-announced themselves as the "World Police" then act like a respectful policeman and not like an arrogant lying chemtrails- and death- spraying thug. Both, USA and Russia are out of control and need to be tamed.

    Regarding Crimea, the best solution is to create an independent country, called Crimea (Crim) and tell USA, UA and RU to back off.

  • MarkinLA||

    Crimea will vote to be annexed by the Russian federation.

  • Etherhuffer||

    The Western Ukraine tried to seperate from Russia in 1946. Since the Soviets were in place all the way to Berlin, they had no way to seperate if they wanted to. Atrocities attributed to Germany in Lvov were actually cleansing missions by the Red Army. A lot of old architecture was dynamited.
    And what seems missing in a lot of these posts is that Russia and Ukraine are essentially mirror image mafia states. I lived in Kiev in the mid 90's. Lots of black leather coats covering machine guns. Every president except Yushenko stole billions. This is not a country that belongs in NATO. Countries that are in NATO should at least be able to repel a tank incursion. I doubt Poland or the Baltics could do this.

    However, if anyone doubts the resentment felt against Russia by the Baltics, Poland, and yes, Ukraine, it is very real. The only difference is that Ukrainians still have a mafia elite that runs the show.

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