Monday, March 3, 2014
A lot of the op-eds today are faulting Obama for...weakness? It isn't exactly sure, but something bad is happening and it's inevitably the President's fault. In fact, one of Dubya's better foreign policy moments - along with his AIDS initiative in Africa - was doing very little during the Georgia crisis. Similarly, Obama scores high - or should - for being flexible and backing off the use of force in Syria.
The central fact is that there is little we can do to pressure Russia in its "near abroad". You can - and many have - made the argument that it is hard for the US to condemn another country for invading another country on trumped up charges. Ukraine IS a mess and ethnic Russians are in some danger. That's at least as compelling as Saddam's WMD.
Unfortunately, the one actor who can pressure Russia is also the most vulnerable to Russian pressure, and that's the EU. But if Putin pushes further into Ukraine, they may have no choice.
Putin has a full range of options. Others don't. What constrains Putin? That's the central question.
ADDED: This is good news.
ADDED, TOO: This is a good take on the WaPo and WSJ condemnation of Obama's foreign policy, especially noting that what the editorial boards advocate as solutions are pretty much what Obama is considering and has said he might do. But expelling Russia from the G-8 can happen Wednesday as easily as Monday. What's the freaking rush?
Plus, we come back to the Univeral Theory of Iraq. If you supported the invasion of Iraq, you should immediately count to 4489 before speaking. So, WaPo and WSJ: you are in time out for now.