Monday, March 17, 2014

On crossing the red line

President Obama was smart enough -- this time! -- not to proclaim a "red line" that Russia dare not cross in its salami-slice takover of Ukraine. But of course Vlad the Bad crossed it anyhow, imposing a plebiscite upon Crimea that essentially gave its residents (presumably including the Russian soldiers with no national insignia who have been occupying it for weeks) two choices, either to join Russia now or to join it in a bit. Meanwhile, as if to grind the  noses of Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry even further into the dirt, Russian soldiers crossed into Ukraine itself and seized the gas plant that supplies Crimea.

It was pretty obvious, when Bashar Assad merrily crossed Mr. Obama's "red line" in Syria and Mr. Obama did nothing about it, that nothing this president said was ever going to deter Vladimir Putin. It was even obvious before that, when the United States of America announced that it was going to "lead from behind" in supporting rebel forces in Libya. Now we know what we should have known from the beginning: leading from behind means nothing more or less than running for cover. That's the United States that Barack Obama has given us. He has dismantled, in five short years, the security edifice that eleven U.S. presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, had assembled at such great cost in American blood and treasure.

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