Oh No! Not another “Line”

February 21st, 2014

With the Ukraine in flames and citizen protestors dying in the streets at the hand of government officials, President Obama is resorting to some serious rhetoric in response.

At a press conference in Mexico, he said, “I want to be very clear as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we’re going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors.”

Then he added, “There will be consequences if people step over the line.  And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.”

Currently, there is news of a possible agreement between the two sides involving an election in the coming months.  Whether that will come to fruition is anyone’s guess since (1) most of the protestors want the current president out now, not later, and (2) it’s believed that the protestors greatest leverage is while the Olympics in Sochi continue.  Once the glaring international spotlight is off Vladimir Putin, it’s believed that the Russians may take the opportunity to step in and crack down on the protestors regardless of any agreement.

Meanwhile, back here in the good old U.S.A., we must all wonder what influence, if any, we have over these current events.

Let’s face it; we’ve played these tapes before.  In that earlier episode, Putin, clearly our nemesis, supported a brutal rogue regime in Syria, President Obama threatened severe consequences if Syria crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons, the weapons were used against helpless civilians, and Obama ultimately backed down.

Today, we have Putin again clearly running the show vis a vis a puppet Ukrainian president and civilians playing a scene straight out of Les Miserables (we can only hope the ending is better for these people than what happened on Broadway).  About the only difference in the way this is going now versus then is that the “line” this time has not actually been assigned an official color.  Otherwise, it’s yet another “line” and Putin has likely zero concern about crossing it.

While there is certainly nothing easy about this situation (i.e., most Americans likely don’t want to intervene militarily), it should also be of grave concern to all of us.

One of my biggest concerns about President Obama is his clear lack of historical perspective.  I’m guessing that history was never high on his list back in prep school.  This entire mess is further evidence of that.

Here’s the situation.  Vladimir Putin openly decries the fall of the Soviet Union. It is an open secret that he would love nothing more than to put the old guard back together.  That would be his legacy.  He’s even described a strategy for doing so.  Meanwhile, under the leadership of President Reagan, the Soviet Union crumbled and the Cold War ended. It’s a United States victory that from our perspective should not be undone.

Nothing good can come from a reunification of the Soviet Union whether officially or unofficially.  Success for Putin in this regard would only empower him more in the Middle East (beginning in Syria), Eastern Europe, and Iran.  You know how we assign numbers to World Wars?  We could call this one Cold War 2.

President Obama should act a little more like Franklin Roosevelt and a little less like Franklin Pierce in this regard.  Actually, I only threw that line in because it sounds clever . . . Franklin Roosevelt actually stayed out of conflict as long as he possibly could.  Really, he should act a bit more like Harry Truman, who saw Stalin and the Soviet Union for the evil it was and took measures to contain it.

Given that, let’s hope he dispenses with all the talk of silly “lines” we know he has no intention of enforcing.  Whatever the United States ultimately does, there is little doubt that when it comes to Putin, actions will speak louder than clearly empty words.

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