We've Got Him Exactly Where He Wants Us
Walter Russel Mead says Russia has now blown past three Western plans to restore peace in Ukraine. Here's the latest:
Plan C, which Putin shot down in the last 24 hours, was apparently based on the hope among some policy makers that a confused and misguided President Putin had made a dreadful blunder in Crimea. The plan was to offer the poor, trapped Russians a graceful way out of their predicament that would ultimately restore Ukrainian unity as the country moved West. The plan collapsed when Lavrov blew off the West and refused to even meet with Ukraine’s foreign minister and now the Russians are kicking the fragments to bits as the Crimean regional authorities announce plans for a referendum on annexation by Russia.
Plan C as Mead describes it is Gandalf-grade magical thinking. Putin doesn't want an off-ramp; he wants to restore the Near Abroad to Mother Russia.
Putin's plan goes like this: Help foster crisis in troubled neighbor. Move in troops to "help" and "restore order." Have locals hold vote to ratify Russian presence and/or de facto (or even de jure) annexation.
Meanwhile, Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom works on new formulations to restore "peace in our time." And I thought I was only joking a couple of weeks ago on Trifecta when I called him our first Brony-American president.
There are serious measures we could take immediately to really punish Putin, but we won't because cheap energy is anathema to the Wiggleroom Administration. But Putin means business and we don't. The rest is just a matter of how emboldened Putin feels, and if a time comes when Wiggleroom decides his ego is hurt enough to do something energetically stupid in response.
Honestly I'd rather we just lose this one graciously.