The Crimea: What Would You Do Different?

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

We were at a gathering last week and the discussion moved from the plight of Malaysian Airline Flight 370 to the fiasco in the Crimea.  As the discussion evolved and criticism of President Barack Obama rose, someone (probably one of those souls trying to assuage his own misgivings for having voted for Mr. Obama) asked, “Well, what would you do?”

That can be a show stopper because Mr. Obama’s ineptness and naivete have not only brought on the situation in which Russian President Vladmir Putin was emboldened to invade the Crimea but left us with few, if any, options with which to respond.  For whatever reason, however, I recalled one of Andy Smith’s favorite retorts:  “Your negligence does not create a crisis for me.”  Mr. Smith was the legendary head of Pacific Northwest Bell (PNB) when I transferred from Mountain Bell in Montana to PNB in Oregon.  His admonition was about personal responsibility.  If you caused a problem then own it and fix it.

In this instance the idea that Mr. Obama has, for five plus years, made one mistake after another in the conduct of foreign policy does not mean that those critical of those mistakes have to accept the consequences of his choices.  The appropriate question is not what you would do now, but rather what you would have done to avoid the calamity that now presents itself.  Quite frankly the only way to avoid a continuation of those mistakes is to examine the onset of the mistakes themselves.

So let’s start at the beginning.  I would not have picked Sen. Joe Biden as my running mate.  Mr. Obama had no experience in foreign affairs and did not bother to learn anything about them during his brief tenure in the United States Senate.  He chose Mr. Biden, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his vice president presumably to fill that gap.  Unfortunately, Mr. Biden achieved his chairmanship not by knowledge but by longevity under the Senate’s poorly designed seniority system. Mr. Biden was long regarded as one of the dumbest men in the Senate.  (He graduated in the bottom ten percent of his college class.) Prior to his selection as Vice-President, Mr. Biden was most widely known for oratorical gaffs and his forced acknowledgement of having plagiarized nearly a third of a law review article and for having plagiarized a portion of his stump speech during an ill fated run for the presidency.  And like Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden has learned virtually nothing during his vice-presidency.  As noted by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

“I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

I would not have picked Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  We may not ever know all of the intrigue that surrounded the Clintons’ endorsement of Mr. Obama after a particularly nasty primary campaign; however, suffice it to say that one of the elements was the elevation of Ms. Clinton to Secretary of State and the presumed resultant burnishing of her stature for a future presidential run – that now being right around the corner in 2016.  Ms. Clinton has received wide praise by the mainstream media for her service.  But, when questioned, no one can point to a single accomplishment other than that she traveled more miles than any of her predecessors.  Under her watch the Middle East tumbled into further chaos and while she embraced the so-called Arab Spring it became symbolic of her tenure – a catchy slogan and an empty promise.  She presided over the terrorist killing of our ambassador to Libya and three of his associates, the alienation of Egypt in the post-Morsi period, and the pandering to a brute like Mr. Putin leading to his invasion of the Crimea.  Ms. Clinton spent most of her time promoting herself and precious little promoting our country.

I would not have replaced Ms. Clinton with Senator John Kerry.  Despite his stentorian pronouncements, Mr. Kerry is another empty suit so focused on achieving a legacy now that he failed to become president that he is likely to sell out Israel in hopes of achieving a Nobel Prize.  In the period surrounding the crisis in the Crimea Mr. Kerry appeared haughty but confused.  It is his natural state and one that serves the country poorly.

I would not have abandoned our missile defense shield in Czech Republic and Poland without a verifiable quid pro quo from Russia.  I would not have asked former Russian President Dimitry Medvedev to deliver a message to Mr. Putin that he (Mr. Obama) would have “more flexibility to negotiate” on missile defense after 2012 elections.   I would not have embarked on an apology tour of the Middle East.  I would not have declared a policy of “leading from the rear.”

I would not have dallied in Iraq and Afghanistan kowtowing to a pair of crooks like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq or President Harmid Karzai of Afghanistan.  I would have backed up the lorries long ago and withdrawn all of the troops, supplies and armaments leaving those countries to their interminable civil wars and tribal conflicts.  (It makes no difference that it was President George Bush’s initial mistake to engage in nation building – continuing a mistake simply makes it your own.)  I would, however, have left a clear message that if either of them reconstituted a threat to the United States or its allies, that we would return with the same “shock and awe” they previously witnessed accompanied by a comparable devastation to their military personnel and infrastructure.

It would take a book at least the length of the Guns of August to catalog all of the mistakes made by Mr. Obama and his administration.  And that only applies to the mistakes that were clearly visible at their inception and not just the fates that dog every president.  Only in Hollywood does the mailroom clerk become the successful chief executive officer with no intermittent steps.  In real life transition from community organizer to President of the United States looks like this.


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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Afghanistan, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, Individual Responsiblity, Iraq, Leadership, President Obama | 26 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Where do we go from here in Eastern Europe, or more aptly globally? We start by recognizing although this might be the 21st Century the behavior of humans is still biblically and pre-biblically dated, meaning to talk as though war is archaic as brain-dead Kerry and Obama talk is to lead with your chin.

    It is in the best interest of the U.S. to be economically and militarily as strong as possibly it can be. We need leadership not tied down to issues of equity and retribution for past antiquated misdeeds, but one which is willing to roll back regulation and paperwork so as to encourage American businesses to expand. Government policy should be to sacrifice the abstract issue of “man-made global warming” for the perennial, continual real world tested issue of tribal, national aggression. A lot more human agony stems from war than man-made global warming, especially seeing how since the 1960s with perceived global warming agricultural production has exploded by over four times (huge positive benefit from perceived global warming).

    So, what I am saying is swing the dial towards encouraging a higher rate of economy in the U.S. so as to feed the consequent higher federal tax revenues into maintaining and expanding military strength. Showing military and industrial strength itself prevents the Putins of the world from becoming too aggressive. It’s the time tested Theodore Roosevelt foreign policy of walk softly, but carry a big stick.

  • Jack Lord God

    There is a lot that could have been done differently. The thing one has to realize that although the right generally, and conservatives specifically, have no problem admitting when one of their own has done wrong, this is anathema to the left. They will never be able to admit when Obama has done wrong, thus to engage in the “what would you have done different” is something of a futile exercise. Even if you came up with a Solomon like solution the left would respond “well, you have no way of knowing if that would have worked any better”

    Really what would be nice would be if the obvious could be agreed upon.

    1 – The “it’s all Bush’s fault” strategy was great for winning an election but did absolutely nothing but embolden our enemies. The apology tour Hillary and Obama went on from the outset was a grave mistake. Anyone looking at the footage of Hillary showing up with the Staples “Reset” button should have been horrified at Russian leaders clearly laughing at her for this dopey new US posture. Mistakenly translating “reset” into the Russian word “overcharged” showed these people nothing but pure incompetence.

    2 – To the Russians, Afghanistan is a singular country. The bloodbath of their unsuccessful invasion of that country marked the beginning of the end in some ways. Had Obama succeeded there it would have been a tremendous coup for him. The russians would have respected that quite a bit. Even Obama called it the “war we must win”. As things turned out golf was far more important to Mr. Obama. Deaths of US personell soared under him absent leadership and he couldn’t be bothered to attend national security meetings.

    3 – Backing off of the missile shield in eastern Europe was another huge mistake. Mr. Obama simply was something of a dullard on this issue, he didn’t have the mind for it. To Obama, the missile shield was a cold war relic. In his world the Cold War was over, nuclear war something of a none concern. He simply was too stupid to grasp that the missile shield was arguably more a symbol to avoid confrontation than a tool to protect against it once it started. Abandoning it then became a symbol of abandoning eastern Europe in Putins mind, and thus his aggression.

    4 – Libya – This has to be the crowning moment of absolute idiocy. Bush had shown strength in the mid east. His invasion of Iraq was a serious error, however the one good thing we did get from it was Gaddafi immediately surrendering his WMD program and trying to move his country in a more responsible direction. The Libya invasion destroyed any progress in that regard and put the world on notice that there was little point in errant dictators trying to get along with the US.

    5 – Needless mid east idiocy. The list here is pretty long. I am not sure how stupid you have to be to support the “Arab Spring” popular uprisings in Egypt, where we had a friendly but odious government, and yet when the same occurred in Iran earlier, you refer to it as an internal matter and give it no support. The red line in Syria was absolute insanity with the only person acting rationally in that area being Assad, who rightly called the bluff. Antagonizing Israel was absolutely pointless as well. What was the gain there. Benghazi, even if you believe the entire administration line made us look absolutely ridiculous when Obama and Hillary did another round of the apology tour with their TV commercial begging for forgiveness for a dopey You Tube video.

    I have said it before and I will say it again – Obama is something of an oracle in foreign affairs Every step he has taken has been wrong. Going forward, our country would be well advised to seek out Obamas consultation in the future, whatever course of action he suggests do the exact opposite. I would expect mid east peace, the fall of North Korea and successful rescue of the Malaysian jet passengers within a few weeks were such course of action to be taken.

    • LulzPdx

      “… They will never be able to admit when Obama has done wrong…”
      That is a lie, and no matter how often you repeat it, it will continue to be a lie. I know of plenty of people on the left who criticize Obama, on a great range of issues. Since this has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions, I can only assume that you lack any ethical or moral foundation and are comfortable with being a liar.

      • Dick Winningstad

        Claiming that Pres. Obama has not gone left far or fast enough does not constitute actual criticism.

        • LulzPdx

          Actually it does. Criticizing his keeping Guantanamo open is criticism. Saying that his economic stimulus wasn’t enough is criticism. Saying that he doesn’t have the power to assassinate American citizens in foreign lands is criticism. Saying that he is absolutely horrible in his persecution of whistle blowers is criticism. Saying that the use of drones, and the attendant death of innocent civilians, is wrong is criticism. Criticizing his unwillingness to bring charges against Wall Street bankers is, well, criticism. I could continue, but I think you get the idea.
          Just because it’s not what you would criticize does not mean that the left doesn’t criticize Obama. Or, you need to relearn the definition.

          • Dick Winningstad

            One or two people/groups criticizing does not make it. The left is largely silent on Guantanamo / killing American traitors on foreign soil / whistle blowers and drones on these issues. Wall Street bankers and low stimulus is not going left enough. I stand by my criticism.

          • LulzPdx

            I’m sure you do, just as I know that you are fundamentally wrong. It’s a meme common to the right, and just part of the conservative delusion.

          • .

            LulzPdx baring the mentality of a soap dish again.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Hmmmm…. no counter examples? You just know I am wrong? It is good to have faith. Too bad yours is misplaced.

          • LulzPdx

            Counter examples of what? I provided some examples under Jack’s post. Perhaps you didn’t see them. But let me throw out two big names that are critical of Obama: Paul Krugman, and Robert Reich.
            My question would be this, how many examples would I have to provide to satisfy you, and do you think that is realistic? I suspect that no matter how many examples I provide, you will steadfastly maintain your belief – speaking of it being good to have faith.

          • Dick Winningstad

            Hmmmm.. two that are criticizing that Pres,. Obama is not left enough. I think I already acknowledged that. I would be wanting to know about the left’s criticism of IRS abuses of conservative groups, getting the ambassador to Libya killed, Fast and Furious transfer of guns to drug cartels, to name a few.

      • Jack Lord God

        >That is a lie, and no matter how often you repeat it, it will continue to be a lie.

        The central problem with your contention is I can show you photos all day long of the left out in the streets protesting Bush and you cant show me jack other than grumbling on lefty web sites over the exact same issue.

        GITMO and torture? Shut up and obey.. Nobody out in the streets like they were with Bush. Obama has a kill list. Bush waterboarded five guys and the left went nuts. Obama grants himself a license to kill and there are five or six guys on a moms basement website who complain and thats about it.

        Afghanistan? Deaths soared under Obama. Was the left out in the streets? Nope, Leftys chained themselves to Bush’s house over deaths of our soldiers. Not any more. The left claimed to care about our soldiers being killed, Now it turns out they only used those deaths to win an election. Go ahead – show me the mass demonstrations of the left, show me the lefties chaining themselves to Obamas house like they did Bush. Prove me wrong. You can’t and you know it, because you know all you can do is obey, you cannot think for yourself.

        Respect in the world – Hey remember that little chestnut? Well, Obama sure has the world hating us. Gee, no mention from the left on this one. Obey, don’t embarrass.

        Warrentless wiretapping? Wow, I remember this one. Now Obama does far worse and the left shuts up. Yeah sure there is some grumbling on Daily Kos but that’s about it. Sure don’t see any street marches here. Saw em during Bush. Shut up and obey. Do not question.

        The left by definition cannot be introspective – when you believe government can solve everything, and your leaders are the ones to do it, then to be introspective, to admit you made a mistake is to shake the very foundation of your belief.

        You obey, you follow. You will support Obama no matter what he does, and if he errs it is because he was not left enough. You could never stand up and say “Hee, gee, maybe Obamacre was a mistake, maybe we didn’t know what we were doing”

        It was the single biggest issue of this administration and you cant even be honest it was a mistake. Im a Republican, I can admit Bush’s single biggest issue, Iraq, was a total mistake. Most Republicans can.

        And that’s the difference – Conservative understand government cant do everything, that leaders are flawed and not to be blindly trusted. Therefore when they do wrong we can admit it.

        You could never do that because your orthodoxy prevents it. Thus you are condemned to obeying, following, not thinking, as long as you hold onto your unending faith in others to solve your problems.

        Nothing wrong with that, pack mules often live a long and happy life. However please don’t try to make the rest of us believe you do anything but carry water. Like the pack mule, you are very good at supporting those who own you, and are happy in doing so, but to maintain you do anything but follow orders is to be ridiculous.

        • LulzPdx

          You’re talking about the difference in how issues are protested. Demonstrating is not the only to criticize. Well, maybe to you, because you seem to have given up rational and logical thought.
          I’m sorry that you are so blinded by your partisanship that you concept of the left is totally warped and wrong. I take it back, you don’t know you’re lying. You have just come to accept your lies as the truth, and you are so arrogant that you can’t see it.
          You assume that if people on the left don’t agree with your particular criticisms, then they must not be criticizing Obama. Closed loop thinking, and cherry picking with heavy doses of intellectual dishonesty and hubris.

          • Jack Lord God

            >You’re talking about the difference in how issues are protested. Demonstrating is not the only to criticize.

            Amazing! you have actually lurched into the obvious.

            With comparable things, such as I listed, the left was out on the streets in outrage when it was Bush. With Obama they sit quietly in the basement and type out an angry missive or two on Daily Kos.

            Clearly they hold the two to different standards because they dare not criticize their own too loudly.

            Since you seem to be admitting this divergence I will consider the point conceded.

          • LulzPdx

            This was just a very quick search. I can’t help you if you don’t understand. You’re simply too blind. However, now that I’ve enlightened you, you no longer have any excuse to claim that the left will not criticize Obama, and the next time you make a blanket statement, you are just a liar.
            I’m sure you will consider the point conceded. Your willingness to live in a fantasy world is noted.

            Mar 2013

            Against Drone Criminal, Barack Obama!

            Nov 2013




          • LulzPdx

            Oh.. what about the Occupy Movement? That seemed to be a pretty large protest, and a lot of it targeted at Obama.
            No, wait, you’ll just change the goal posts yet again (don’t you get tired of carrying them around?).
            By the way, not criticizing too loudly is different than not criticizing. LOL. you didn’t lurch into the obvious.. you sprinted right into it.
            I’ll take the point as conceded. 😉

          • LulzPdx

            “With Obama they sit quietly in the basement and type out an angry missive or two on Daily Kos. ”
            What did the right do when they realized that Bush was wrong about Iraq? One or two stern comments on OC? Why should the left work harder at criticizing Obama than the right did in criticizing Bush? Liar and a hypocrite. You really are a busy guy.

          • .

            Boo, suggest desist in your left wing finking and get a grasp on a commoner sense of direction, not the viral inflection infesting US,

          • LulzPdx

            And you, of course, we be possessed of common sense? It truly is a world turned upside down.

          • .

            LulzPdxabye: Too bad so sad you messed up your ticket to ride the Jonestown or Marshal Applewhite Express to more stellar comet entrails in the sky.

            Wait, there ‘remains’ opportunity – sickly by maintaining your gums in flavor for a new whorld order menu venue.
            Selah later, masseuse caboose rubbing US in a wrong way.

  • LulzPdx

    Let me ask a question that I haven’t seen asked, why shouldn’t the citizens of the Crimea be allowed to join with Russia? 60% of the Crimea identify as being Russian.

    • Dick Winningstad

      You have a point as Ukraine has not esisted as a country until after the fall of the USSR. Before that it was Russia, Ottoman Empire, Lithuania/Poland and so on back in history. But today Ukraine is a recognized country and member of the U.N. as is Russia. The U.N. has strictures against aggressive land grabs of others sovereign territory, one of the hold overs from WWII. Russia is in the wrong here to have occupied the Crimea with its army.

  • politik

    What would I have done different? You never answered the question, Larry, because YOU would have done nothing different. There was nothing you could have done different, Crimea was clearly in the Russian sphere of influence. Would you have committed US military even when Ukranian forces ceded their bases without a shot? tour pitiful article is than little More than predictable hot air from another Conservative blowhard.

    • .

      Ogrysat’sya politik!

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