Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Chilly War

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to war we go.  Da da duh da, da da duh da…. Oh, wait. That’s not the accurate Disney lyric, is it?  It just seems so listening to the frothing by a variety of “leaders” up in arms over the annexation of Crimea.  In August of 2013 my blog Fight Fight Fight looked at the various wars that the U.S. is involved with and whether they made sense.   I’m surprised that President Obama and a number of political leaders seem to have taken my comments literally.

“…It’s much better when we have a definable  enemy whom we can personify.  Vladimir Putin is the perfect foil – right out of Central Casting.  Quite dour looking.  He’s remaking Russia into the Soviet Union V2.0.  He’s given safe haven to Edward Snowden, a huge irritant to the Obama administration.  He’s declared war on gay people – throwing civil rights and basic humanity out the window.”

The media and political establishment are quite energized at being able to tell a black/white, good-guy/bad-guy story. Much easier to follow than the complexity of terrorism where the ‘enemy’ is spread out and there’s no leader to demonize. Russian’s reclaiming part of their land from Ukraine falls neatly into the simple narrative.

With Russian action the Obama administration is following my “suggestion” to draw Putin as the enemy for Cold War II.  Vlad helped the case by sliding into Crimea and annexing in a matter of days with no bloodshed or resistance from the people or “the West” brought a part of the Ukraine back under Russian control. He even had a vote, winning with 97.5%.

Senators like John McCain who are always chomping at the bit to go to war or engage the military in some way have lambasted the President for ‘losing’ Russia, as if it was some sort of board game. Two time Presidential failure Mitt Romney used the words:  “naivete” and “faulty judgment” on CBS to describe the Obama foreign policy.  Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said a “trained ape” could do better.  Perhaps President George W. Bush (43) mistook what he saw when he “looked into the soul” of Putin in 2001? Or should he be blamed too?

The past year has seen a lot of political dust-ups over the NSA listening in on Americans as well as foreign leaders.  With all of that, nobody heard anything about tank and troop movement that Putin ordered?

The CIA reinvented itself after 9/11 – its self-described “greatest intelligence failure” –  to more nimbly move about and anticipate world events.  Missed another one.  Defenders say it’s impossible to read the mind of a madman like Putin.  Right, because those tanks and troops just materialized out of nowhere. Surprise! 

The problem isn’t what Obama did or didn’t do, what the NSA heard or didn’t hear, or what the CIA could figure out or couldn’t figure out.  The question is whether the U.S. needs to care about a small geographic region that’s home to 2.35 million people  - less than the number of people who live in Baltimore or Houston.

Russians remaking the map by force is against U.S. ideals. Is it against U.S. strategic interests? Does it justify a new cold war – or even a chilly war? If it does the U.S. President must articulate why American dollars, American prestige and American lives are worth it.  We're waiting.

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