Another day, another bullshit cease-fire agreement. A pattern emerges: Russia, while lying about it, uses military force (with “separatists” as a front) to grab a piece of Ukrainian territory. A cease-fire freezes their gains in place . . . until they break it and grab more, followed by another cease-fire to solidify those further gains.
It’s what used to be called, at the Cold War’s onset, “salami tactics” – taking what you want one small slice at a time, without provoking a big response. But the slices add up.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bush 41 had Margaret Thatcher to stiffen his spine. Obama’s got Angela Merkel, who’s been wrong about every significant issue she’s ever confronted. She scotches any strong unified Western response to Putin over Ukraine.
When this started, I likened it to 1938, when Hitler was pulling the same stuff with Czechoslovakia, he was allowed to get away with it, and that turned out badly. Hillary Clinton said likewise. Her comparing Putin to Hitler was widely pooh-poohed. Thomas Friedman called her comments overblown; but recently he’s recanted about that.
We’re constantly told “there’s no military solution.” I was glad to finally hear a high NATO official say we’ve got to stop that nonsense – because we’re in fact getting a military solution – Vladimir Putin’s. (Even Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov cynically spouts “no military solution.”) Thus the West so far won’t even help Ukraine defend itself against a despicable invasion that everyone fecklessly decries.
“No military solution” – actually, “Never a military solution” — seems to be Obama’s overall foreign policy. He’s applied it to at least four problems. Indeed, even where he ostensibly does aim at a military solution – with ISIS – he’s unwilling to really commit military means. The legislation he proposes would actually limit his own power to deploy military assets — more than existing law already does.
It’s true that a problem like Ukraine’s will ultimately require a political/diplomatic solution. But what’s misguided about the “no military solution” mantra is that political and military initiatives are not mutually exclusive – to the contrary, they are often mutually reinforcing. Military means, or at least their serious threat, can help in getting a good political solution; renouncing military options can only make that harder. Putin might well be persuaded into an acceptable and lasting political deal if he were facing serious military pushback. He laughs off economic sanctions; that’s simply not a concern to him. Absent military consequences, he has no reason to be reasonable.
Just like Hitler in 1938. I had thought the scourge of changing borders by armed force was something relegated to civilization’s past. Just like we’d thought diseases like measles were consigned to the past — until fools started to refuse vaccination. Obama and Merkel are refusing to vaccinate against military aggression.