Paul Johnson: 'Shades of Munich'

“Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?”, asks Paul Johnson at Forbes. The verdict is out on that — though I’m sure he’d want to be another Stalin, which is as equally bad — and as Johnson writes, the 21st century does not lack for Chamberlains:

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What’s to stop Putin? The West is led by the modern equivalents of Chamberlain: President François Hollande of France is a political nonentity repudiated by his own compatriots; Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have both ruled out the use of force to stop Putin from annexing Ukraine; and worst of all, President Barack Obama–the one man who has the power to stop Putin in his tracks–does nothing. He makes Neville Chamberlain seem like a bellicose activist.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world. Thanks to the fracking revolution, it has the means to meet the energy needs of all the former Soviet states. Its fleets and armies make Russia’s much reduced military power seem puny. It could move troops and aircraft into Ukraine within 24 hours, and its fleets could ensure protection to the Baltic states in a way that Putin would find unanswerable. Yet Obama makes no decisive moves. What ails the man? Is it cowardice? Indecision? A kind of executive paralysis he tends to display when firmness is called for? Clearly there’s something fundamentally wrong with the U.S. President. Meanwhile, Putin, who runs what is, in essence, a second-rate nation with a weak and declining demographic structure, behaves as if he rules the Earth.

Sadly, there is no Churchillian voice to sound the alarm and call the democratic world to action.

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Comparing Obama to Chamberlain? Hey, it’s not like with staggering naivete, the president promised the world “Peace In Our Time,” or anything.

Oh wait

Oh and speaking of Obama as Chamberlain, as Richard Fernandez noted last night at the Belmont Club, the president stands ready to offer American assistance to Ukraine…minus any “lethal assistance,” of course:

The Voice of America carries a similar account. “WHITE HOUSE — The Obama administration has suggested that Ukraine’s operations against pro-Russian separatists are justified, but that the U.S. is not considering providing lethal assistance.”

US Backs Ukraine’s Separatist Crackdown

Without going as far as stating U.S. support for the Ukrainian government’s decision to send in tanks and troops, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the United States appreciates Ukraine’s pledge that it will act responsibly and gradually against the separatists who have taken over government buildings and other facilities.

This brings to mind Obama’s “support” for Syrian rebels without providing any “lethal assistance”.   The president once again declares he stands ready to support his allies to the limit of his teleprompter. But about all else he has provided besides are a few containers of MREs.

One might well ask: of what does the administration’s support consist except an shouted exhortation from well to the rear to advance “responsibly and gradually”? It’s a phrase that sounds more like an slogan against drunk driving than the tocsin of resistance.

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As Richard notes, “An endorsement without muscle may be worse than no endorsement at all.”

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