FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014
BY BOB FRANKEN
One of the worst parts of a sudden global crisis like the one that has erupted over Ukraine is that we have no idea what’s really going on. The diplomats and intelligence people of our national-security apparatus, along with our political leaders, are playing their Cold War games mostly in secret. The bigger problem is that we can’t be sure that even they have any idea what’s going on.
What’s does it mean when President Barack Obama warns Soviet -- uh, excuse me, I mean Russian -- President Vladimir Putin that “there will be costs” if he sends the military into Ukraine? Is there something ominous about that diplospeak? Apparently not, since Putin responded by sending troops into Ukraine. More importantly, when Vlad makes his moves, what can the United States really do but grumble or bluster and hope against hope some miscalculation by someone doesn’t make the situation worse?
Short of a shooting war with Russia, what can the U.S. and E.U. really do to punish an invasion? Boycott the upcoming economic summit in Sochi? Big deal. End trade talks? Another slap in the wrist with a wet noodle.
Has Putin calculated correctly that after Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States and the Europeans are depleted, really unable to muster a forceful response as he pursues his expansionist dreams to avenge the fall of the Soviet Union? Already many Republicans are dumping all over Obama, scoring whatever points they can, screaming for some kind of demonstration that the U.S. of A. is still able to bend the rest of the planet to its will.
The blame is misplaced, given that it was their Bush administration that drained the military with its poorly thought-out adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The harsh reality is that America is not quite as super a superpower as we once were. Certainly, Putin knows that and has forced Obama to play with a weak hand.