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Belmont Club

Lost in History

February 28th, 2014 - 1:44 am

In the jungle of current events, reports that ‘pro-Russian’ armed men have taken over a Crimean airport are the latest thump from drums beating behind a line of trees.  The weary pilgrims of history don’t know entirely what it signifies, except that it is probably nothing good. None of that would be too worrisome to those huddled on the trail, peering nervously into the dark through their makeshift perimeter of bales, if they only had a little more confidence in their guide.

Their guide however, seemed wholly unperturbed at the rhythmic beat, as he stood legs wide apart, surveying the inscrutable darkness with enviable serenity. The world’s guide of course, is president Obama, who just a week ago attempted to slow the crisis in the Ukraine by drawing one of his patented Red Lines. Matt Spetalnick discoursed in Reuters about those do-not-cross boundaries:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s stern warning this week to Ukrainian officials was the closest thing to a “red line” moment he has had since his threat in 2012 to act against the Syrian government if it used chemical weapons.

But Obama’s admonition on Wednesday to not “step over the line” in cracking down on mass protests rocking the Ukraine raised questions on whether he would be any more effective at matching words with deeds than he has been in Syria’s three-year-old civil war.

His decision to lay down another rhetorical “line” in a geopolitical crisis left many foreign policy experts puzzled, especially given the limited options he has at his disposal for dealing with the Ukraine’s spiraling conflict.

“Hasn’t he learned his redline lesson?” tweeted Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Nor was he alone in his use of this comparison. James Carden, writing in the National Journal, noted that he should have drawn a Red Line to restrain the overly enthusiastic protesters also.

Yet another Red Line, Mr. President? … In the space of two sentences the president—give him credit for parsimony—made a few things, as he never seems to tire of saying, “very clear.” The first thing he made clear was that he and his administration are willfully misrepresenting what is actually happening in Kiev. His call for the Ukrainian government to ‘show restraint’ in the face of what is now a spectacularly violent far-Right putsch is a rhetorical fantasy dressed up as a warning.

The second thing he made clear was that he is exceedingly comfortable employing double standards when it suits him. Anticipating the president’s remarks, Vice President Biden called Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych on Monday and made clear that Ukraine’s government has a “special responsibility to de-escalate the situation” which continues to spiral out of control in Maidan Square. Mr. Obama, not 24 hours later, warned that there would be “consequences if people step over the line”

Presumably the “people” Mr. Obama is speaking about doesn’t include members of the hardline Svoboda Party, whose members are rampaging through the streets of Kiev setting fires and hurling bricks, Molotov cocktails, and all manner of refuse at the police, who Obama and Biden seem to expect to behave in a manner befitting a Park Service Ranger. The protesters themselves, all presumably quite peaceful (at least at heart), have no ‘special responsibility’ not to ‘step over the line.’

Carden needn’t have worried about the effect of Obama’s one-sided Red Lines since both Yanukovych and his opponents ignored them as if they weren’t there. That realization of impotence, rather than the lack of even-handedness of the edicts, are what principally concerned the jungle travelers, who were beginning to suspect their imposing guide was both lost nor knew what the throbbing drums in the near distance signified.

Some members of the traveling party however, retained their confidence.  One of them, a journalist from the New York Times recalled that president Obama was about to unleash his prestige to solve the Palestinian-Israeli impasse.

WASHINGTON — President Obama, after avoiding a hands-on role in Middle East peacemaking since the setbacks of his first term, plans to plunge back into the effort, his advisers said this week, starting with an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel….

It is far from clear, however, that Mr. Obama can pull off what has so far eluded his secretary of state — not to mention several of his Oval Office predecessors.  … It is difficult to know the exact status of the talks because the participants have largely kept a promise not to air the details publicly.

Skeptics say Mr. Kerry’s decision to opt for a framework is itself a sort of concession — or at best, a way to buy time. Some worry that if Mr. Obama puts his prestige on the line to coax approval for an interim step, he will have less leverage to push through a final deal.

What a lot his name must have stood for! That prestige — and little else — was what stood between the party and whatever lurked in that forest.

“They’ll listen to him, you’ll see,” one of the party said, wiping the sweat from his brow as he peered into the darkness.

“Are you sure? Those drums sound very menacing to me. And frankly, I don’t think your guide cuts much ice in this part of the woods.”

“He came highly recommended in Washing Town. Had a letter from Lord Ayers himself.”

“All the same,” the skeptic said, “I’ll feel better when those infernal drums stop.”

Suddenly the throbbing ceased but after a pregnant silence a loud boom seemed to rend the very air, as if some monstrous symphony had finished one movement only to begin the next.  AFP reports that “Ukraine’s interior minister on Friday accused Russian forces of staging an “armed invasion” in Crimea, claiming they had blocked one air base and entered another airport overnight on the Black Sea peninsula.”

“What was that?” expostulated one man, sitting up straight of a sudden, half tripping over his Martini-Henry. “What was that loud beat?”

“Steady old fruit,” his companions urged. “Probably just the crescendo of that beastly exhibition.”

“Look! There’s someone coming out of the trees,” another cried as a solitary figure came running out of the gloom. He handed a message to the imposing guide and waited. “What does it say?” the travelers asked. The guide showed them the note.

Source AAP. Ukraine’s parliament has called on the United States and Britain to uphold a pact signed with Russia to guarantee its sovereignty as tensions spiralled over the Crimea region.

Interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov also told MPs that he was summoning the country’s security and defence chiefs over the crisis.

Legislators voted to demand guarantees of a 1994 memorandum that Ukraine signed with the Britain, Russia and the United States in Budapest safeguarding its borders and independence in return for giving up any nuclear arsenals left in the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine’s interior minister on Friday accused Russian forces of staging an “armed invasion” in Crimea, claiming they had blocked one air base and entered another airport overnight on the Black Sea peninsula.

“There’s nothing to be worried about,” said the guide. “They send these appeals for help all the time.”

“It looks ominous to me,” the oldest traveler said. “Rather like the letters Gordon sent to England some years back. Said ‘e was surrounded. The messenger died delivering it to Whitehall, worn out from all the crawling in the desert.”

The guide turned and dazzled the travelers with his smile.  ”It’s not serious,” he said. “I’ll just tell them I’ve drawn another Red Line.”

The men returned slowly to their little circle of bales. Suddenly one of the travelers jumped up and cried, “by Jove I know where I’ve heard that drumbeat before!” He produced an Android tablet from his pocket and played a clip from YouTube.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama's foreign policy "prestige"?

This is drama played as farce.

"Waiting For GoNot"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the last BLOG thread, I started it by saying "Well, that didn't take very long, did it?"

I said in an earlier thread that Putin would attack, go all in, and that's what I think we are seeing. It would be one thing if the Ukraine were truly united against Russia, but the Ukraine is divided, and a Ukrainian civil war with pro-Russian nationalists one side and pro-Ukrainian nationalists on the other, is just the force multiplier that Putin needs for a campaign with acceptable Russian losses.

In the West, the Ukrainian crisis is sudden, but Putin has been planning for it for years, and has necessary contingency plans at the ready. With an impotent US President and EU his only opposition, this is a lock for a Russian invasion. Whatever, it appears in the propaganda (i.e. "liberation", protecting the East from murderous right wing fascists, whatever), it will be a straight up invasion by Russia.

I hate being right about tragedy, but with Obama as CinC, it's easy guessing correctly. Who on earth could possibly believe anything that man said? Obama has proven to be a liar and opportunist at every opportunity. I cannot think of anything self-less, noble, or in the "best interest of the country" that this President has done. Moreover, he lacks any kind of personal moral courage. He wouldn't risk a toenail to save one of his daughters. The man is a narcissistic coward. He could care less how many people die wherever, as long as his family and entourage are hooked in the US Treasury IV to keep the Obama stash going.

The only thing that saves the Ukraine is a united Ukrainian people going to the mat, IED's, suicide vests, and every man, woman, and child with a rifle, and taking the fight to Russia. I don't think that they have it in them. Too many years of being a Soviet satellite to change stripes now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are maybe two things that are clear to the outsider. The first is that the Ukrainian people, all of them, deserved better than they got with Yanukovych and his cronies. Ukraine is broke. Yanukovych stole it. $35 billion and still counting.

Yanukovych was apparently elected fair and square. What does that say about democracy other than that the character of political leaders, real character, visible evidence of a life led in pursuit of virtue, trumps the form of government every time. Doesn't exactly warm your heart when gazing toward the Capitol.

The other thing is that Crimea is now a part of Russia, again. Just like it was for centuries before 1956. The new government of Ukraine, the EU, the USA can say or do whatever they want but it's already a done deal. Maybe everything else that happens from here will depend on how quickly everybody involved accepts that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (70)
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Obama is really such a cucking funt there's really not much else to say. This little panty waist has nothing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

In the 1870s the Russia of the Tsars, ever needful of a warm water port, had eyes on Constantinople and the entrance to the Mediterranean. London music halls rang with the song that gave us the term ‘jingoist’. The song went, “We don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the ships, we’ve got the money too, the Russians shall not have Constantinople”. Putin might not have his eye on Constantinople just yet, but are we due for another Crimean War? Where is Lord Cardigan and the Light Brigade when we need them?

Obama sings a merry tune, his smile lights up the sun
As Red Line after Red line bites the dust
What will he do to put things right and make the Russians run
Besides a letter stating his disgust
What can he do if trouble starts and Putin makes his move
And peaceful resolutions start to fade
He’s cut defense down to the bone and now he must reprove
The Russians with just one lone Light Brigade

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

There are so many ethnic Russian speakers in the Ukraine. Don't dig too far - Uncle Joe had a Final Solution too!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He, he, he... So the Ukrainians of all people, now find out about the perils of signing arms control treaties with the Russians. I swear they must have a big scoreboard in the Kremlin labeled "Treaties Successfully Broken."

Those former SSR's not only did not want nukes, but they did not want any offensive equipment of any kind, either. One of them even begged the Kremlin to take back the Backfire bombers that were there - too provocative, ya know, but the Russians refused. They ended up asking the USAF to come in and destroy those bombers. Too bad we did not squirrel a few away...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's so funny?

Our military strength is dangerously destabilizing to World Peace.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, sure it is. And Rosie Odonnel's spoon made her fat...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Legislators voted to demand guarantees of a 1994 memorandum that Ukraine signed with the Britain, Russia and the United States in Budapest safeguarding its borders and independence ..."

Barry does the same thing internationally as he does in the US -- making promises that only a Low Information Voter would believe. ("You can keep your doctor". "This is the moment the oceans stopped rising"). Are we to understand that Ukrainian legislators are as gullible as domestic LIVs?

Ah well, maybe Old Blighty will step into the breach left by the unsupported bombast of Barry & his predecessors. Lil' Davie Cameron might send the UK's only aircraft carrier. It doesn't have any planes, but it's the thought that counts. Except that the last time Lil' Dave tried to support one of Barry's impossible promises, the UK Members of Parliament ("useless bunch of tossers" is the usual English description) voted down his planned Excellent Adventure along Barry's Syrian Red Line. Most surprising, since usually London Conservatives make Washington's Institututional Republicans look good in comparison.

Nope, the only possible interpretation of the Ukrainian Legislators' call for support from Barry and Davie is that it was an admission of their own extreme weakness.

Hey, maybe the EU will threaten not to buy any more gas from Russia unless Putin backs down. The prospect of old Germans freezing to death in the dark next winter would be so distressing to Putin that he would surely agree to any demands the EU might put upon Russia.
(show less)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OldSalt: "In the West, the Ukrainian crisis is sudden, but Putin has been planning for it for years ..."

Possibly -- but the current coup in Ukraine does not look like something Putin initiated:

1. While most of the "journalist" reports are clearly low-value exercises in pushing the usual left-wing narrative, there have been a few side comments worth noting -- journalists surprised at how well-disciplined, well-organized, well-armed the "protestors" have been.

2. Timing of this "spontaneous" uprising against the (democratically-elected) government -- during the Sochi Games, when it was a safe bet that Putin would not react, to avoid any impact on his precious Olympics.

Common sense suggests that what we are seeing in Ukraine is probably analogous to the Communist coup against the Kerensky-led Provisional Government which displaced the Czar in Russia. Probably not Communists this time, since no-one believes Marx's 1800s scribblings anymore. More likely to be Fascists (marriage of private wealth & political power), since Fascism has already won the post-WWII struggle in Russia, China, EU, and USA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The first thing he made clear was that he and his administration are willfully misrepresenting what is actually happening in Kiev. His call for the Ukrainian government to ‘show restraint’ in the face of what is now a spectacularly violent far-Right putsch

Oh Lordy, Lordy!

So, who is this "Carden" fellow who chose to use the same language/rhetoric that Western Leftists used in dismissing both Czech rebellions and the Hungarian revolt during the Cold War?

"far-Right?" As in, anybody even infinitesimally to the "right" of the progressive agenda?

I suspect Carden may be younger than this early baby boomer, who was an adult in 1968 for the first Czech uprising, and who had childhood playmates who made Molotov cocktails for the grownup rebels in Budapest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Part of my message got lost. UPDATE: OK, this comment system is messing with me. It will always be problematic, won't it? :-)

I'm old enough to remember the Hungarian rebellion in '56. I had playmates in Italy who were refugees from that conflict. They knew how to make Molotov cocktails for the adult rebels, and could draw Russian tanks to uncanny detail.

How old is "Carden" that he does not realize what a buffoon he is for digging up tired old leftist tropes?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've got a friend who was an eight year old kid making Molotov cocktails in Budapest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's see whose troops show up in Tokyo to occupy Mt. Gox and look for all the lost bitcoins.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rumor and misunderstanding are a threat. So here is a suggestion Old Great And Glorious Wizard of Obama.

Start flying JSTARSs over the Black Sea out of Incirllk AFB in Turkey.

Are there Russian helicopters flying toward the Crimea, or are those the planned military exercises within Russia? It makes a BIG difference.

One report says that there are armed men at the airport in military uniforms without insignia, and that the Ukrainian forces have surrounded the airport, but avoided contact. If everybody holds their fire, the situation will begin to clarify itself.

Both the Ukraine and the Crimea have scheduled new elections on the same day. Cool your jets and let the people vote.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
another red line, huh........ this is a threat I take more seriously:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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