Obama still being cautious

Diplomacy was what Otto Von Bismarck had in mind when he stated that politics was the art of the possible. You had to hear the “footsteps of God” then “grasp onto the hem of his garment.” Barack Obama has recently seemed to adhere to that doctrine. In Syria it was a “red line” which he promptly and properly forgot and with Russia over the annexation of the Crimea.

As with Richard Nixon 40 years ago, Obama has learned not to burn bridges. Despite the fact that he was under tremendous pressure to “do something,” Obama carefully explored sanctions and unlike his Secretary of State, John Kerry, avoided overstatement. The neo-Conservative tub-thumpers like John McCain and Lindsay Graham briefly corralled Kerry into their saber-rattling corner.

For Obama, the realities of the present world has made him more careful then, say, George W. Bush. The assumptions of 2001-2009 were too bright and way too dependent on gaining the American people’s support of a Garrison state for Bush-style grandiosity to succeed. Recklessness and wars also soured the American public on any hint of Wilsonian adventurism. A brief two weeks ago another crusade against, in this case, Russia, was being amped up. Then Obama started to cut cards with Vladimir Putin.

Proximity is Russia’s strength while unrealized promises are the European Union and the United States’ chief assets. The border, with or without Russian troops, has been relatively calm. In the Crimea, life goes on and passion for the rump government in Kiev is not too high.

Moreover, the complicities of the world economy makes hard sanctions virtually impossible, given the cross-pollination of money internationally. Ukraine is vital to the Russian economy, not to the United States, another consideration for Obama to consider.

This does not mean the President lacks a case. There seems to be little sympathy for the ditched Ukranian leader and Russia did violate the Treaty of Budapest. Pettifogging points of “treaties” wrung out of Russia at their lowest point also give Putin some legitimate points, but Russia does better if it stays in the good graces of the United States.

So how could this crisis be resolved? First of all, a concession of the Crimea will probably be included. As well, the concern of the largely Russian, eastern Ukraine must be addressed. Moreover, NATO’s eastern advance must be ended. There is, in reality, no such thing as a purely “defensive alliance.” Such a term is an oxymoron.

Especially since the United States has a real knack for overthrowing Russia’s allies. Iraq, Libya and even attempts on Syria’s government have had the handprint of Washington, all over the map. The “new world order,” first proclaimed by George H.W. Bush, would suggest a universal democracy, led by the United States.

The way of neo-Conservatism is marked by endless violence and the disruption of life. Societies are not subject to a “one size fits all” philosophy.

It would be best if the United States let the situation evolve, rather than force the Ukrainian issue.


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