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An Open Letter

Dear Everybody,

Please stop giving foreign policy advice to President Barack Obama, or as I nicknamed him during last year's Syria Red Line Crisis, Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom. I'm not saying you're all giving him bad advice -- far from it. Let's look at some of the advice submitted in recent days.

Robert Spalding III is, I'm sure, more hawkish than I am regarding Ukraine, but I certainly endorse his idea of deploying a credible force of F-22 Raptors to the region. Read:

Without firing a shot, such a deployment would immediately change Putin’s invasion calculus. Faced with F-22s, Russian aircraft would not survive, and thus could not support a Russian ground invasion. Ukrainians would feel more confident about their ability to defend their country, since any Russian invasion would be subject to attack by Ukrainian aircraft protected by F-22s.

Spalding seems to think that Russia's Crimea annexation is somehow reversible, but that in my mind is a bridge too far. But if we want to prevent the annexation of the Sudetenland Crimea from becoming the annexation of Bohemia-Moravia eastern and southern Ukraine, we could do worse than moving into place our most potent air assets.

Leslie Gelb see Spalding's redeployment and raises one threat of real action:

The boldest and riskiest course would be to dispatch 50 or 60 of the incredibly potent F-22s to Poland plus Patriot batteries and appropriate ground support and protection. Russian generals and even Putin surely know that the F-22s could smash the far inferior Russian air force and then punish Russian armies invading eastern Ukraine or elsewhere in the region.

There’s no sense at all in making this move unless Obama unambiguously resolves to use the F-22s. The worst thing to do is bluff.

Trudy Rubin advises the Professor to shift the playing field to Syria:

The only thing that might grab Putin's attention and compel him to bargain would be a shift in the playing field - if it looked as if Assad's fortunes were declining. Achieving that would require you to green-light delivery of portable antiaircraft systems that vetted Syrian rebel groups could use to shoot down Assad's planes and helicopters - which rain missiles and "barrel bombs" on civilians. (Even if Putin failed to respond, empowering vetted rebel groups would strengthen their hand against jihadis, as well.)

Yet your team is still haggling over whether to approve delivery of even a handful of such weapons.

The problem of course is keeping our weapons out of jihadi hands, but the point remains that there are things we could do to up the pressure on Assad, and via proxy on Putin, too. (Our chemical weapons deal with Damascus would fall apart as a result, but the Syrians and Russians were already dragging that one out into the 22nd Century.)