Tuesday :: Feb 10, 2015

Vlad and Bibi's Excellent Adventure

by Deacon Blues

Several thoughts on some of the issues of the day:

Howard Dean and others correctly noted last night on MSNBC that President Obama must identify what comes after his next move in response to Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian gambit. Today's news that there is a tentative agreement on a cease-fire may evaporate in the coming days, and it's doubtful that Putin will be deterred from additional direct involvement in toppling Ukraine and returning the country to client-state status. Unlike John McCain and little Lindsay Graham, who both have the luxury of mouthing off without being asked “what’s next?” the Commander in Chief needs to have a plan. For Obama, he must straddle the European reticence on military action while holding the stick that has any hope of eventually changing Putin’s end-game moves. That means saying he’s hopeful for a diplomatic solution, like he did today in his conversation with Putin while also threatening worse things to come.

It means should Putin weasel his way out of the cease fire, Obama must publicly have ready 1) the most punitive economic sanctions yet to be employed; 2) the provision of defensive military aid to counter Russia’s offensive weaponry when Putin breaks the cease fire, despite the obligatory Russian threats; and 3) the convening of a public presentation by the United States of our evidence of Russian direct involvement in the aggression against Kiev. None of this will change Putin’s path, and Obama needs to account for this now. But he also needs to be ready with the next step, when Russia gets more involved militarily to topple Kiev, which is to publicly call out Russia as an outlaw regime and a failed state, and to announce the reestablishment of the United States Navy’s Twelfth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean.

Sure, many will say that this will jeopardize any future collaboration with Russia on common interests like Iran’s nuclear program and resolving the ISIS/Syrian problem, but the truth is that those endeavors are going nowhere anyway, and Russia is using the false hope of their help in resolving them as cover for sticking it to the United States. The sooner Obama makes it clear that Putin’s behavior leads us to the conclusion that Russia is only interested in destabilization for its own gain, the sooner the world can view Russia through that lens.

Netanyahu’s Visit
Yes, of course the Democrats in Congress should publicly boycott John Boehner’s attempt to seize foreign policy from the executive branch. Too bad Johnny Suntan didn’t show the same inclination to seize foreign policy during the last decade when the executive branch was directly responsible for thousands of American and Iraqi deaths arising from impeachable offenses.

Netanyahu has fully revealed himself as an extension of the GOP, and like them only interested in war with Iran, but someone without Ariel Sharon’s life experience and wisdom about war and peace issues. So be it. Israeli voters must deal with him, and they should know that their leader has bumbled his way into creating a divide between Israel and its closest ally in the world, at a time when that same leader assumes America will maintain lock-step support for Israel’s foreign policy.

Guess again.

Jeb's Privacy Breach
The Jeb Bush campaign has had a bad couple of days. First, their newly-announced IT director turned out to be a sexist cretin, routinely calling women "sluts". Then today, in trying to show he has nothing to hide, he ended up violating the privacy of those who wrote him while he was governor by revealing their Social Security numbers.

Great job Jeb. When do we get to talk about your responsibility for the "Stand Your Ground" law?

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