World View: West Discusses Sanctions, as Russia Prepares for War in Ukraine
This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- More on the 'Autonomous State of Crimea'
- West discusses sanctions, as Russia prepares for war in Ukraine
- Israel's Netanyahu rebukes Obama over Mideast peace process
- Is the United States really no different than Russia?
More on the 'Autonomous State of Crimea'
Several people have commented on yesterday's World View column with
the title "Russia declares the Autonomous Republic of Crimea" by pointing out that Crimea has
been the "Autonomous State of Crimea" since the breakup of the Soviet
Union in 1991. The point I was trying to make with that headline was
that Russia was taking over in Crimea, but the result was poorly
worded. I apologize for the confusion.
Other readers pointed out that South Ossetia has a majority Orthodox
Christian population. There is a sizable Muslim population, but it's
not a majority. I apologize for the error.
Thanks for the corrections. Republic of South Ossetia
West discusses sanctions, as Russia prepares for war in Ukraine
Protesters compare Russia's annexation of Crimea with Hitler's annexation of Sudetenland in 1938 (AP)
No shots have been fired yet, but that may change soon. Thousands of
Russian troops are pouring into Crimea, the southern peninsula of
Ukraine, trapping Ukrainian soldiers in their bases and Ukrainian
boats in their ports. There are 150,000 troops on Russia's Ukrainian
border doing military exercises.
There were several reports on Monday of ultimata given by the
Russians, demanding that the Ukrainians surrender or face a "military
storm." One of these deadlines is for late Monday evening, ET. These
reports have been denied by Moscow, and have described these claims of
threats as "nonsense."
As tensions skyrocket in Ukraine, investors dumped the Russian stocks
and the ruble currency. Russia's stock market plunged 11%, and the
ruble fell 1.8% against the dollar, and a similar amount against the
euro. Investors fear that Russia's energy exports will suffer, and
that Ukraine's corn and wheat exports will also suffer.
The administration of president Barack Obama is pinning its hopes on
these adverse economic reports as "costs" that Russia has to pay.
According to Obama on Monday:
"Russia is on the wrong side of history. ...
What cannot be done is for Russia, with impunity, to put its
soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are
recognized around the world.
What we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact,
they continue on the current trajectory that they're on, that we
are examining a whole series of steps -- economic, diplomatic --
that will isolate Russia."
According to the administration, Russia has already suffered heavy
"costs" of billions of dollars from the plunge in Russian stock shares
and rubles. The administration is considering sanctions against
Russia, such as restricting travel to the United States by Russian
officials and oligarchs.
Even if the administration went ahead with some kind of sanction,
chances are it would be meaningless. Sanctions cut both ways, and
Russia has many billion dollars of trade with Europe and more billions
with the U.S. Stocks didn't just fall in Russia on Monday. They
plunged globally, with the farthest in Russia. Any meaningful
sanctions would be so painful to everyone they would never be enacted.
However, according to the Washington Post's editorial board, which has
always been a strong supporter, Obama's foreign policy is "based on
"For five years, President Obama has led a foreign
policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than
on reality. It was a world in which 'the tide of war is receding'
and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce
the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision,
would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and
the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting
alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John
F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s 'This Week' Sunday when
he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, 'It’s a 19th
century act in the 21st century.' ...
Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received
the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president,
Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and
the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar
al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people,
sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws,
nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families
cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the
disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even
disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned
primarily with maintaining their holds on power."
It's very hard disagree with anything in this editorial. After one
foreign policy debacle after another, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq,
Afghanistan, and others, and after Monday's statement pinning hopes of
vague "costs" to stop Russia in Ukraine, I can only repeat what I've
said before: Typical of his Generation-X cohort, President Obama and
his staff have no clue whatsoever what's going on in the world.
As of this writing, nobody has fired a shot in Ukraine, but that could
change at any time. Russia is making threats, trying to get Kiev to
overreact, so that Russia will have an excuse for military action.
Perhaps Russia has no intention of military action, and is massing
troops for the purpose of gaining a negotiating advantage. But if so,
and even if Kiev continues to play it cool, even an accidental
"incident" could occur at any time and spiral into a military
conflict. AFP and Kyiv Post and Washington Post
Israel's Netanyahu rebukes Obama over Mideast peace process
In an interview late last week, President Barack Obama explained what
he was going to say to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
during their Monday meeting. Obama said that he believes that
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas "is sincere about his willingness
to recognize Israel and its right to exist." However, Abbas has
repeatedly demanded that Israel could exist only on condition of the
"right to return," meaning that the grandchildren of Palestinians who
lost their homes in the 1940s could reclaim those homes in modern
Israel. Obama said:
"We are coming to a point, though, over the next
couple of months where the parties are going to have to make some
decisions about how they move forward. And my hope and
expectation is that, despite the incredible political challenges,
that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas are able to reach
past their differences and arrive at a framework that can move us
When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my
conversation. If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime
Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?"
Obama repeated an earlier threat that the U.S. would not be able to
protect Israel from "international fallout," such as the Palestinians
joining the International Criminal Court as the nation "Palestine,"
and use that platform to accuse Israel of war crimes. According
"If you see no peace deal, and continued aggressive
settlement construction -- and we have seen more aggressive
settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen
in a very long time -- if Palestinians come to believe that the
possibility of a contiguous, sovereign Palestinian state is no
longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international
fallout is going to be limited."
In a joint press conference on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu
issued a rebuke:
"The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered
the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that
Israel has taken to advance peace. I mean, we vacated cities in
[the West Bank]. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen
settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released
hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent
And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of
suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from
the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement
against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret
to say that the Palestinians haven’t.
Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but
it’s the truth. And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth
because they’ve been living it."
Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a major regional war
between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the war that followed the 1948
partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. It
really doesn't make any difference what Obama and Netanyahu say or do.
Bloomberg and White House
Is the United States really no different than Russia?
Something I've heard a lot in the last couple of weeks is that
Russia invades countries and the U.S. invades countries, and so
there's really no difference. This deserves a response.
Historically, this comparison is completely wrong. When the
U.S. "invades," it's for a police action in our role as policemen of
the world, for what we believe to be a benevolent cause. We became
policemen of the world in 1947 under the Truman Doctrine, which justified military
police actions because they could prevent a new world war, and because
their costs in blood and money are tiny in comparison to massive costs
of World War II. This was later reaffirmed by President John Kennedy
when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you
can do for your country."
However, when Russia invades, it's to annex territory for the
The U.S. has never annexed Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq,
and has no plans to annex Afghanistan. You might argue that the
Vietnam war and other wars were mistakes, and that may (or may not) be
true. But it's incontrovertible that we did so to save South Vietnam
from Communism, and that we never had any intention whatsoever to
annex Vietnam. So there's no "moral equivalence" between Russia and
the United States.
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail