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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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March 1, 2014 - 9:25 am
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The unrest in Ukraine had been building for months. That unrest threatened the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, and therefore Russia’s fragile hold on power over its strategic neighbor. Russian President Vladimir Putin was extremely unlikely to make any overt moves either before or during the Sochi Olympics, but once the Olympics were over, all bets were off. Or, they should have been.

But just a day before Russian troops entered Crimea, U.S. intelligence saw no reason to believe that Putin would invade.

There was good reason to think Putin wouldn’t do it. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State John Kerry that Russia respected the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. U.S. intelligence assessments concluded that the 150,000-man Russian military exercises announced by Putin on Wednesday were not preparations for an invasion of Ukraine because no medical unitsaccompanied the troops. And Russian and U.S. diplomats were still working on Iran and Syrian diplomacy. All of this followed a successful Winter Olympic games for Putin’s Russia.

None of that is good reason to think much of anything. It’s clear now that Lavrov was buying time; Kerry should never have been so credulous. Russia’s sole warm-water naval port is in Sevastopol, Crimea. Russia’s quest for warm-water navy ports has driven quite a bit of grim history over the past 300-odd years. Once Ukraine ousted its pro-Russian president, that port was at risk. If Russia lost it, it could not project naval power in the Mediterranean and the rest of its bases are iced over. For strategic reasons alone, Russia was likely to act in Crimea. Factor in the ethnic makeup of Crimea — it’s heavily majority Russian — and the fact that Putin does not want Ukraine tilting west, and it doesn’t take a multi-billion dollar intelligence community to see that Putin had motivations to act.

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Top Rated Comments   
From many years in the Community, I can tell you that rule 1 of intelligence is that the NIE will always say what the Director thinks is politically palatable for the boss.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
In this case, they are the four horse's asses.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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Re:
"If that [Russia recalling its Ambassador to the U.S.] happens, it’s a major escalation of what is already an almost unbelievably dangerous situation.

It's not in the least "unbelievably dangerous" to us Americans if we don't intervene in that newest cauldron of as yet unknown complications. Read Crimean history via Captain Google. It goes back a long way. Why now America?

Why must we permit, even encourage, others' problems to become America's problems?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
20 million dead in WW-I and we didn't learn, 50 million dead in WW-II and we didn't learn. How many will die this time around because we let our guard down once more and let con artists, fools, and imbeciles like Obama, Kerry, Hillary, Hagel take over our government. The world is filled with evil and every time we let our guard down, we get the same result. I gave 36 years of my life fighting evil crap like this, watched dozens of my friends die, attended more funerals than I can count of Americans and others who fought to stop such aggression and tyranny, all for nothing. The cycle never ends. The American public as a whole is stupid and deserves its fate at the hands of our lying politicians. Our political leaders are narcissistic fools, out for themselves and no one else. I guess we'll have to wait for the USSR to be reassembled and a North Korean nuclear missile successfully launched against an American city before the American public wakes up. Don't worry though. We won't have to wait long.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
For some reason, our electorate constantly gets seduced by a "false dawn." When the Cold War ended, there was feeling that geopolitical maneuvering by nation states was over. It was all about "the global community." Borders and armaments were obsolete. Russia never got the memo. Neither did China. Power has always refused to accept a vacuum and that is something our electorate, especially the naïve young voters don't understand.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Great Game...is over...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama wanted the US to stop throwing it's weight around in the world, and this is the result; the return of Imperialist Russia. There's no reason to think Obama sees this as a foreign policy failure, but the World does.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well it's true that if Russia has no Black Sea assets they can't be projected into the Med. But in reality they can't be usefully projected into the Med because of Turkey anyway. I guess there's always hope Russia could in certain circumstances force passage, but because of the restricted waters, Turkey could probably stop them unilaterally.

Any attempt by Russia to pressure Turkey either diplomatically or militarily would mean military intervention by the West. That is our own red line, and one even Obama would be forced to act on. And why would Russia do that? There is nothing strategically useful for Russia in the Med other than the prospect of having to fight their way in and out every time they transit from the Black Sea.

Russia is more concerned with a reverse scenario than anything else. Turkey also stops NATO ships but Turkey is more vulnerable to pressure from the West and if Russia has no Black Sea fleet, then relying on Turkey is a scant defense.

In other words the status quo will hold. We're merely seeing Putin assert that fact.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
From many years in the Community, I can tell you that rule 1 of intelligence is that the NIE will always say what the Director thinks is politically palatable for the boss.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
That sounds about right. That's among the reasons to have opposed the creation of the stovepipe DNI post.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Change the name of the bureaucracy, strip away or add a layer, the politicization will always remain.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Eh, DNI is just the DCI with another name. And another level of bureaucracy. I think it's a problem inherent in hierarchic organizations -- I gave a talk about this some years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erY_mB6wv8k
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"... the team atop the U.S. government consists of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel."

On another thread we have been talking about the four horsemen of the apocalypse!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
In this case, they are the four horse's asses.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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