Author Topic: Russia--Regional Power??  (Read 5599 times)

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Russia--Regional Power??
« on: March 25, 2014, 02:47:12 PM »
I ussally don't comment on politics, but what I heard Obama say today is so extraordinarily stupid, I had to bring it up.

“America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength, but out of weakness,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Nations like Brazil, Turkey, and Australia are regional powers, but Russia?  Russia has more nuclear warheads than any nation on earth, is (or at least recently was) the largest producer of oil on the earth, has an economy in the top 5% of all nations on earth, and a population greater than all but eight nations on earth.  Regional power?

We've just seen Russia annex a large chunk of a sovereign nation under the guns of its military, and we were powerless to do anything but bluster.  So what does Obama do?  Belittles, taunts,  and marginalizes a nation that throughout its history has had a chip on its shoulder, mocking it  potentially to the point of further action.  That's like calling a bully who beat up your friend a "pussy" after the fact, despite the fact you did nothing to help him.

I know Kerry is  a political hack and not a career statesman, but there have to be professionals in the State Dept to advise Obama on such things.  Do we really want to wave the red cape in front of the angry bull?

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 03:17:22 PM »
I ussally don't comment on politics, but what I heard Obama say today is so extraordinarily stupid, I had to bring it up.

“America’s got a whole lot of challenges. Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength, but out of weakness,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Nations like Brazil, Turkey, and Australia are regional powers, but Russia?  Russia has more nuclear warheads than any nation on earth, is (or at least recently was) the largest producer of oil on the earth, has an economy in the top 5% of all nations on earth, and a population greater than all but eight nations on earth.  Regional power?

We've just seen Russia annex a large chunk of a sovereign nation under the guns of its military, and we were powerless to do anything but bluster.  So what does Obama do?  Belittles, taunts,  and marginalizes a nation that throughout its history has had a chip on its shoulder, mocking it  potentially to the point of further action.  That's like calling a bully who beat up your friend a "pussy" after the fact, despite the fact you did nothing to help him.

I know Kerry is  a political hack and not a career statesman, but there have to be professionals in the State Dept to advise Obama on such things.  Do we really want to wave the red cape in front of the angry bull?
Oil reserves don't matter as much as we think. Venezuela has the most and look at the chaos and economic situation in that country. Yes, Russia has a large population but much of that are "non-Russian" ethnically and the actual Russia population is barely at, or below, replacement rate. But regarding the comment: I think it was a not-so-subtle way of knocking Russia and it was on purpose as Presidents don't make statements in such places without a script to be read. Words is all Obama has in this situation since Europe won't go with real sanctions and Russia is trying to expand "relationships" with countries in South America etc.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 03:25:01 PM »
Not to mention that Putin is restoring old Soviet ties to Cuba, and through that country, with Venezuela.  That's hardly regional.
I'll be called a racist in 3-2-1 -


Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 03:26:43 PM »
Oil reserves don't matter as much as we think. Venezuela has the most and look at the chaos and economic situation in that country. Yes, Russia has a large population but much of that are "non-Russian" ethnically and the actual Russia population is barely at, or below, replacement rate. But regarding the comment: I think it was a not-so-subtle way of knocking Russia and it was on purpose as Presidents don't make statements in such places without a script to be read. Words is all Obama has in this situation since Europe won't go with real sanctions and Russia is trying to expand "relationships" with countries in South America etc.

*laughs*  Of course it was on purpose, that was my point.  It's almost a challenge to Putin, one Obama and (as you point out) the Europeans are not willing to respond to if accepted.  Taunting a bully you know you don't want to fight, and know you can't whip in his back yard, is stupid.


Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2014, 03:54:27 PM »
Russia is a regional power because it doesn't have the ability to exert sustained military force on any kind of global scale.  Crimea is part of a regional territorial dispute that has been simmering for a long time. It's also an economic mess with a lot of seriously outdated infrastructure and is going to be a huge drain on Russia's resources.  It's hard to imagine what Putin would gain by doing anything that would start a war with NATO..  The same people who are criticizing Obama's response didn't have a problem when Dubya didn't rattle the saber or send troops to the border after the Russian incursion into Georgia. It's a sad and frightening time for many Ukrainians, but it's not our fight.  When we invaded Iraq, which is a lot closer to Russia than the Ukraine is to the U.S., for much flimsier reasons Russia didn't threaten a military response. It just sat by and let us dig a deep hole for ourselves.  It might take a couple of years, but the same thing is probably going to happen to Putin over this, so we need to view it in the long-term and not worry so much about the day to day developments.

And, Uncle Duke, what would your plan of action be if you were President?  I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm just curious.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2014, 04:12:39 PM »
I know Kerry is  a political hack and not a career statesman, but there have to be professionals in the State Dept to advise Obama on such things.  Do we really want to wave the red cape in front of the angry bull?

Getting Russia to overstep its bounds is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get them to fall apart.
Trying to hold Crimea, the Ukraine, the Black Sea, and other parts of Central Asia has bankrupted and brought down far better empires than the nascent Putinpire. The Mongols, the Ottomans, the Moghuls, the Venetians, the Tsar...its where powers go to die.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 04:23:08 PM »
Getting Russia to overstep its bounds is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get them to fall apart.

Well said, Mind Flayer.  The economic drain of trying to control Eastern Europe was a big reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Throughout history, Russia has tended to protect its borders and let invaders break their armies on its defenses and brutal winters rather than try to take over the world. Any serious incursion outside its immediate sphere of influence would be doomed to fail.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2014, 04:34:15 PM »
Russia is a regional power because it doesn't have the ability to exert sustained military force on any kind of global scale.  Crimea is part of a regional territorial dispute that has been simmering for a long time. It's also an economic mess with a lot of seriously outdated infrastructure and is going to be a huge drain on Russia's resources.  It's hard to imagine what Putin would gain by doing anything that would start a war with NATO..  The same people who are criticizing Obama's response didn't have a problem when Dubya didn't rattle the saber or send troops to the border after the Russian incursion into Georgia. It's a sad and frightening time for many Ukrainians, but it's not our fight.  When we invaded Iraq, which is a lot closer to Russia than the Ukraine is to the U.S., for much flimsier reasons Russia didn't threaten a military response. It just sat by and let us dig a deep hole for ourselves.  It might take a couple of years, but the same thing is probably going to happen to Putin over this, so we need to view it in the long-term and not worry so much about the day to day developments.

And, Uncle Duke, what would your plan of action be if you were President?  I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm just curious.

We disagree what "regional power" means from a military perspective.  Several thousand nuclear warheads and a means to deliver them accurately anywhere in the world gives the Russians the ability to exert military force more than regionally.  Same with China, they may not be able to project conventional power to even invade the RoC, but I consider them a world power militarily.  And as previously stated, this goes beyond just military might.

In the big picture, we don't disagree, however.  This is no more our fight than was Hungary in 1956, or Afghanistan in 1980.  My problem isn't with Obama, or any other head of state, expressing concerns, even contempt, for what the Russians did in Ukraine.  No problems with sanctions either, such actions are an accepted response in the international arena.  I am not, however, advocating US military action now anymore than I did in 1980. Simply put, Ukraine is neither in the US sphere of influence nor is fighting for it within our national interests.

The issue here is the taunting nature of Obama's comments, for the reasons I've already explained.  What would I do?  It's more what I wouldn't do, I wouldn't poke Putin in the eye with a stick if I knew it could result in some action I had neither the will, support, or the capability to react to.  The rest of the world and the UN is condemning Russian actions for the most part, the US can lead that condemnation through diplomatic means (even if "from behind" as Obama is fond of doing) without trying to marginalize the Russians and taunt Putin.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2014, 04:36:46 PM »
Getting Russia to overstep its bounds is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get them to fall apart.
Trying to hold Crimea, the Ukraine, the Black Sea, and other parts of Central Asia has bankrupted and brought down far better empires than the nascent Putinpire. The Mongols, the Ottomans, the Moghuls, the Venetians, the Tsar...its where powers go to die.
Very saavy, MFM.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2014, 04:43:35 PM »
Getting Russia to overstep its bounds is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get them to fall apart.
Trying to hold Crimea, the Ukraine, the Black Sea, and other parts of Central Asia has bankrupted and brought down far better empires than the nascent Putinpire. The Mongols, the Ottomans, the Moghuls, the Venetians, the Tsar...its where powers go to die.

All recorded history, not challenging this at all.  Not sure what it has to do with my original post, however, unless you are saying Obama made his statement to bait Putin into rebuilding the Tsarist Empire to bankrupt Russia decades down the road.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2014, 04:56:44 PM »
We disagree what "regional power" means from a military perspective.  Several thousand nuclear warheads and a means to deliver them accurately anywhere in the world gives the Russians the ability to exert military force more than regionally.  Same with China, they may not be able to project conventional power to even invade the RoC, but I consider them a world power militarily.  And as previously stated, this goes beyond just military might.

In the big picture, we don't disagree, however.  This is no more our fight than was Hungary in 1956, or Afghanistan in 1980.  My problem isn't with Obama, or any other head of state, expressing concerns, even contempt, for what the Russians did in Ukraine.  No problems with sanctions either, such actions are an accepted response in the international arena.  I am not, however, advocating US military action now anymore than I did in 1980. Simply put, Ukraine is neither in the US sphere of influence nor is fighting for it within our national interests.

The issue here is the taunting nature of Obama's comments, for the reasons I've already explained.  What would I do?  It's more what I wouldn't do, I wouldn't poke Putin in the eye with a stick if I knew it could result in some action I had neither the will, support, or the capability to react to.  The rest of the world and the UN is condemning Russian actions for the most part, the US can lead that condemnation through diplomatic means (even if "from behind" as Obama is fond of doing) without trying to marginalize the Russians and taunt Putin.
I am going to assume that you are not actually insinuating that Obama somehow goaded Putin into taking Crimea and instead focus on the idea that maybe Ukraine isn't really our problem.
Our problem, our real "credibility" issue in the world is we promote "democracy" and do virtually nothing to sustain it.  Allowing this KGB thug to run roughshod over sovereign nations and to demur under the pretense of "interests" is cowardly and is true weakness in the world's eyes.
The prevailing argument has been that Barry O hasn't "done enough" with the growing tier of sanctions.  Conservatives on this board wail and lament his "feckless" ways yet when pressed for reply (and called out for their bellicose verbosity) waffle by replying, "We want really aggressive sanctions!"
Patience.  Very few lives have been lost - let's keep it this way.  Ever mounting levels of sanctions, exclusion from G8, and, yes, Putin's public diminution at Obama's hands are building pressure on Russia.  As Mind Flayer Monk has said, Putin is creating the same network of failure that overtaxed and crumbled the old regime.  Did you ever see "Charlie Wilson's War"? The CIA, initially under the Carter Administration and later enhanced in scope by the Reagan Administration, began a covert training and arming of the mujahedeen that caused the same sucking wound to the Soviets that Vietnam/Cambodia did to us, except it was a further burden on the USSR. The grand failure on our end was not to support back end institutionalizing democracy into Afghanistan, which helped give rise to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The difference here is that the same covert arming of pro Ukraine cells and supplementing the Ukrainian economy can only serve to force Putin to waste vast resources trying to influence the territory. (Hopefully this will not get to the shooting stage.)
Add this to accelerating sanctions and now you have a real actor in play on Putin's grand designs of empire.
Lastly, I would still caution all against extending Putin too much credit for his grab of Crimea; circumstance allowed this, yes, but our long term relations with Russia (and credibility in the world) hinge on us supplementing a democracy rather than turning our backs on it.  This will be an arduous process, but one worth our involvement.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2014, 04:57:53 PM »
Russia is a regional power because it doesn't have the ability to exert sustained military force on any kind of global scale.  Crimea is part of a regional territorial dispute that has been simmering for a long time. It's also an economic mess with a lot of seriously outdated infrastructure and is going to be a huge drain on Russia's resources.  It's hard to imagine what Putin would gain by doing anything that would start a war with NATO..  The same people who are criticizing Obama's response didn't have a problem when Dubya didn't rattle the saber or send troops to the border after the Russian incursion into Georgia. It's a sad and frightening time for many Ukrainians, but it's not our fight.  When we invaded Iraq, which is a lot closer to Russia than the Ukraine is to the U.S., for much flimsier reasons Russia didn't threaten a military response. It just sat by and let us dig a deep hole for ourselves.  It might take a couple of years, but the same thing is probably going to happen to Putin over this, so we need to view it in the long-term and not worry so much about the day to day developments.

And, Uncle Duke, what would your plan of action be if you were President?  I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm just curious.


It's not so much about the response.  It's steps taken or not taken that got us to this point. 

Obama has projected weakness and incompetence on foreign policy since he was in the US Senate.  One of the first things he did as President was go on an around the world tour apologizing for the United States.  He was literally bowing before folks like the King of Saudi Arabia.

Just before the 'Arab Spring' were the demonstrations in Iran.  Obama ignored them.  He twiddled while our jihadi enemies captured Libya and Egypt, and actually joined and supported them after they stole the revolutions from the people.  He botched the Syrian mess, which drove the Saudi's to turn to the Russians for weapons and gave Putin a diplomatic victory regarding Assad and the bio-weapons. 

He is refusing to sell helicopters to the Egyptian military to use in the Sinai against the Moslem Brotherhood militias there.

He recently had Kerry lie about the Monroe Doctrine, then declare it dead.  It didn't take long for Putin to test that by announcing Russia was in negotiations to use air and sea ports for his air force and navy in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Obama is driving a  deal with Iran that allows them to continue building the bomb.  When they get it, the Saudi's will want one.  So will Egypt and Turkey.

Obama did nothing when China annexed international shipping lanes and airspace in the East China Sea.  Seeing weakness from their US ally, Japan wants to build nukes.  South Korea will want them too.

One of the first things Obama did in office was scrap that radar station in Poland.  And a similar project in the Czech Republic.  Both of these systems irritated the hell out of Putin.  Obama closed them unilaterally to appease Putin.  If it is truly in our best interests to close them, he almost certainly could have gotten Russia to end Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange.

Obama is hollowing out the military, and doing everything he can to demoralize the troops.  We are or will soon be down to pre WWII troop levels, and pre WWI in number of naval vessels.  And it's worse than that - so many of our troops now are support for the 'shooters'.  The actual number of 'shooters' will be at a historic low.

The Ukraine recently asked the US for weapons, and were denied.  Obama supplied al-Qaeda with weapons in Syria, but not our allies in he Ukraine.



It's in the wake of all this and more that Putin and the Chinese are acting. 

What Obama should do is take measured steps to get Putin's attention and give him pause.  Of course we aren't going to attack or invade, but we can show resolve.  A short list of some measures we could take are:  announce his scheduled cuts in the military are going to be scrapped.  Reopen and continue working on the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Add an aircraft carrier to the fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Schedule 'war games' in the Black Sea with Ukraine, Georgia, and anyone else in the area that is interested.  Tell China we still consider the East China Sea to be international waters and air space, park a couple carriers here, have daily flyovers, and take it up in the UN.  Sell the damn helicopters to Egypt.  Scrap the recent agreement with Iran.  Tell Putin to stay out of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.  And so on.

But he won't do any of that.  They should have all been done already.


Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2014, 05:09:53 PM »
We disagree what "regional power" means from a military perspective.  Several thousand nuclear warheads and a means to deliver them accurately anywhere in the world gives the Russians the ability to exert military force more than regionally.  Same with China, they may not be able to project conventional power to even invade the RoC, but I consider them a world power militarily.  And as previously stated, this goes beyond just military might.

In the big picture, we don't disagree, however.  This is no more our fight than was Hungary in 1956, or Afghanistan in 1980.  My problem isn't with Obama, or any other head of state, expressing concerns, even contempt, for what the Russians did in Ukraine.  No problems with sanctions either, such actions are an accepted response in the international arena.  I am not, however, advocating US military action now anymore than I did in 1980. Simply put, Ukraine is neither in the US sphere of influence nor is fighting for it within our national interests.

The issue here is the taunting nature of Obama's comments, for the reasons I've already explained.  What would I do?  It's more what I wouldn't do, I wouldn't poke Putin in the eye with a stick if I knew it could result in some action I had neither the will, support, or the capability to react to.  The rest of the world and the UN is condemning Russian actions for the most part, the US can lead that condemnation through diplomatic means (even if "from behind" as Obama is fond of doing) without trying to marginalize the Russians and taunt Putin.

Looks like we pretty much agree on the subject, Uncle Duke. I have to say I'm not worried too much about Putin's nukes, though. I lived through a large part of the Cold War and spent a few childhood years absolutely terrified that Soviet nukes were going to rain down on us at any time.  Since that didn't happen, it's hard to believe Putin (or anyone else) would seriously consider them an option unless he's bat shit crazy, because there would be absolutely nothing to gain except charred ruins, ungodly radiation poisoning, and nuclear winter.  Nobody in their right mind would want to rule over that, and if it happened being a "global power" over that kind of globe would be a hollow victory indeed.  Realistically, he can have all the nukes he wants, but they won't don't him a bit of good if he doesn't use them.  He's definitely an asshole, but he's not a stupid one who wants to spend the rest of his life living in a mine shaft. 

As for Obama's comments, I see it more as a little dig in the ribs than a serious poke in the eye that's going to provoke Putin into doing anything rash.  I imagine if we searched enough, we could find a few instances of Putin making some snide cracks about Obama. Soviet leaders directed a lot of bellicose statements at U.S. presidents, and vice versa without serious consequences.  It's just part of the game.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2014, 05:13:19 PM »

It's not so much about the response.  It's steps taken or not taken that got us to this point. 

Obama has projected weakness and incompetence on foreign policy since he was in the US Senate.  One of the first things he did as President was go on an around the world tour apologizing for the United States.  He was literally bowing before folks like the King of Saudi Arabia.

Just before the 'Arab Spring' were the demonstrations in Iran.  Obama ignored them.  He twiddled while our jihadi enemies captured Libya and Egypt, and actually joined and supported them after they stole the revolutions from the people.  He botched the Syrian mess, which drove the Saudi's to turn to the Russians for weapons and gave Putin a diplomatic victory regarding Assad and the bio-weapons. 

He is refusing to sell helicopters to the Egyptian military to use in the Sinai against the Moslem Brotherhood militias there.

He recently had Kerry lie about the Monroe Doctrine, then declare it dead.  It didn't take long for Putin to test that by announcing Russia was in negotiations to use air and sea ports for his air force and navy in Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba.

Obama is driving a  deal with Iran that allows them to continue building the bomb.  When they get it, the Saudi's will want one.  So will Egypt and Turkey.

Obama did nothing when China annexed international shipping lanes and airspace in the East China Sea.  Seeing weakness from their US ally Japan wants to build nukes.  South Korea will want them too.

One of the first things Obama did in office was scrap that radar station in Poland.  And a similar project in the Czech Republic.  Both of these systems irritated the hell out of Putin.  Obama closed them unilaterally to appease Putin.  If it is truly in our best interests to close them, he almost certainly could have gotten Russia to end Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange.

Obama is hollowing out the military, and doing everything he can to demoralize the troops.  We are or will soon be down to pre WWII troop levels, and pre WWI naval vessels.  And it's worse than that - so many of our troops now are support for the 'shooters'.  The actual number of 'shooters' will be under 100,000.

The Ukraine recently asked the US for weapons, and were denied.  Obama supplied al-Qaeda with weapons in Syria, but not our allies in he Ukraine.



It's in the wake of all this and more that Putin and the Chinese are acting. 

What Obama should do is take measured steps to get Putin's attention and give him pause.  Of course we aren't going to attack or invade, but we can show resolve.  A short list of some measures we could take are:  announce his scheduled cuts in the military are going to be scrapped.  Reopen and continue working on the installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Add an aircraft carrier to the fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Schedule 'war games' in the Black Sea with Ukraine, Georgia, and anyone else in the area that is interested.  Tell China we still consider the East China Sea to be international waters and air space, park a couple carriers here, have daily flyovers, and take it up in the UN.  Sell the damn helicopters to Egypt.  Scrap the recent agreement with Iran.  Tell Putin to stay out of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.  And so on.

But he won't do any of that.  They should have all been done already.
Leaving aside your asinine analysis about this somehow being the result of "Obama's Apology Tour" your sabre rattling isn't going to impress anyone, least of all a KGB thug like Putin.

I love your Shelbyville approach to Putin's aggression:

 
We can "tell Putin to stay out of Venezuela etc., etc..." like we did with Andropov, Brezhnev, Khrushchev, and Stalin but they didn't care so what makes you think he cares?  What's our impetus, military response?  Idiotic.  Rather, draw him in and force him to expend resources that we have in piles compared to him.  He won't be spending much time on this side of the globe.

An aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean?  War games?  Why not just put on a gorilla costume and beat our chests?

(You know, P*B, they have little blue pills to fix the problem you're apparently having...)

The Iran solution is a multilateral success.  Heard much about the "Iran Bomb" lately?  If there was real concern, don't you think Israel would be screaming bloody murder right now?  If anybody has tabs on the Iranian nuclear program, its Mossad and they're allowing the process to work.  Failure on your part.

Selling helicopters to the same Egyptians who just sentenced over 500 political opponents to death? HELL and NO. Failure again on your part.

Oh, and unilaterally piss off the Chinese to show 'em who's boss.  Good Heavens please tell me you were drinking. Continued failure on your part.

Your response reads like the impetuous, emotional response of an angry adolescent or a cranky old senior citizen with one foot in the grave.  In my experience in retail, sadly, they tend to be one in the same.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2014, 05:17:09 PM »
Leaving aside your asinine analysis about this somehow being the result of "Obama's Apology Tour" your sabre rattling isn't going to impress anyone, least of all a KGB thug like Putin.

I love your Shelbyville approach to Putin's aggression:

 
We can "tell Putin to stay out of Venezuela etc., etc..." like we did with Andropov, Brezhnev, Khrushchev, and Stalin but they didn't care so what makes you think he cares?  What's our impetus, military response?  Idiotic.  Rather, draw him in and force him to expend resources that we have in piles compared to him.  He won't be spending much time on this side of the globe.

An aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean?  War games?  Why not just put on a gorilla costume and beat our chests?

(You know, P*B, they have little blue pills to fix the problem you're apparently having...)

The Iran solution is a multilateral success.  Heard much about the "Iran Bomb" lately?  If there was real concern, don't you think Israel would be screaming bloody murder right now?  If anybody has tabs on the Iranian nuclear program, its Mossad and they're allowing the process to work.  Failure on your part.

Selling helicopters to the same Egyptians who just sentenced over 500 political opponents to death? HELL and NO. Failure again on your part.

Oh, and unilaterally piss off the Chinese to show 'em who's boss.  Good Heavens please tell me you were drinking. Continued failure on your part.

Your response reads like the impetuous, emotional response of an angry adolescent or a cranky old senior citizen with one foot in the grave.  In my experience in retail, sadly, they tend to be one in the same.

Geez, someone with common sense who obviously knows history and keeps up on current events.  Do you think anyone's actually going to listen to you?  ;)

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2014, 06:25:27 PM »
I am going to assume that you are not actually insinuating that Obama somehow goaded Putin into taking Crimea and instead focus on the idea that maybe Ukraine isn't really our problem.
Our problem, our real "credibility" issue in the world is we promote "democracy" and do virtually nothing to sustain it.  Allowing this KGB thug to run roughshod over sovereign nations and to demur under the pretense of "interests" is cowardly and is true weakness in the world's eyes.
The prevailing argument has been that Barry O hasn't "done enough" with the growing tier of sanctions.  Conservatives on this board wail and lament his "feckless" ways yet when pressed for reply (and called out for their bellicose verbosity) waffle by replying, "We want really aggressive sanctions!"
Patience.  Very few lives have been lost - let's keep it this way.  Ever mounting levels of sanctions, exclusion from G8, and, yes, Putin's public diminution at Obama's hands are building pressure on Russia.  As Mind Flayer Monk has said, Putin is creating the same network of failure that overtaxed and crumbled the old regime.  Did you ever see "Charlie Wilson's War"? The CIA, initially under the Carter Administration and later enhanced in scope by the Reagan Administration, began a covert training and arming of the mujahedeen that caused the same sucking wound to the Soviets that Vietnam/Cambodia did to us, except it was a further burden on the USSR. The grand failure on our end was not to support back end institutionalizing democracy into Afghanistan, which helped give rise to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The difference here is that the same covert arming of pro Ukraine cells and supplementing the Ukrainian economy can only serve to force Putin to waste vast resources trying to influence the territory. (Hopefully this will not get to the shooting stage.)
Add this to accelerating sanctions and now you have a real actor in play on Putin's grand designs of empire.
Lastly, I would still caution all against extending Putin too much credit for his grab of Crimea; circumstance allowed this, yes, but our long term relations with Russia (and credibility in the world) hinge on us supplementing a democracy rather than turning our backs on it.  This will be an arduous process, but one worth our involvement.

Cowardly?  As for how we are seen in the "world's eyes," I realized long ago other nations hold the US to much higher standards than they are willing to hold themselves.  The idea of a nation acting in its own vital interests, even at the expense of others, is no more limited to the US than it is to either political party within the US.  How those interests are viewed at the time they are identified as opposed to down the road is for history (and voters I suppose in some nations) to judge.  Ever wonder how different the world, and especially the Middle East, would be today if Eisenhower had supported the Brits and French at Suez in 1956?

I don't learn history by watching movies, but I get your point.  I'm sure you would agree, however, the concept of "institutionalizing democracy" sounds great in principal, but is a serious challenge to do in nations where the concepts of human rights and representative government are as alien as ritual female genital mutalation would be here.  Cultural/social inertia, especially that which has been in force for centuries, is difficult to overcome.  Not saying it's not worth the effort to institute the concepts those of us lucky enough to have been born into such a society take for granted, but we also must be realistic.  Such changes could take generations, not just years.

Forty years ago I would have agreed with the idea of arming covert irregular forces in such situations, but sadly we've seen the death and misery such efforts bring to the overwhelming number of people who simply want to live their lives.  In such cases, those caught in the middle are nothing more than collaterial damage to either side.  Regime change will mean little to those people even if it occurs.  I have a tough time now advocating actions history tells us is going to kill multitudes of innocents in an attempt to bleed a political enemy dry, especially when most are designed at the outset to be open ended. 


Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2014, 06:42:31 PM »
Looks like we pretty much agree on the subject, Uncle Duke. I have to say I'm not worried too much about Putin's nukes, though. I lived through a large part of the Cold War and spent a few childhood years absolutely terrified that Soviet nukes were going to rain down on us at any time.  Since that didn't happen, it's hard to believe Putin (or anyone else) would seriously consider them an option unless he's bat shit crazy, because there would be absolutely nothing to gain except charred ruins, ungodly radiation poisoning, and nuclear winter.  Nobody in their right mind would want to rule over that, and if it happened being a "global power" over that kind of globe would be a hollow victory indeed.  Realistically, he can have all the nukes he wants, but they won't don't him a bit of good if he doesn't use them.  He's definitely an asshole, but he's not a stupid one who wants to spend the rest of his life living in a mine shaft. 

As for Obama's comments, I see it more as a little dig in the ribs than a serious poke in the eye that's going to provoke Putin into doing anything rash.  I imagine if we searched enough, we could find a few instances of Putin making some snide cracks about Obama. Soviet leaders directed a lot of bellicose statements at U.S. presidents, and vice versa without serious consequences.  It's just part of the game.

Yeah, sounds like we are about the same age.  Still remember hiding under my desk during school "duck and cover" drills in the 60s.  And like you, I'm not so much worried about Putin nuking anyone, but the whole idea of a "deterrant" is to have opponents know you can, think you might, pray you don't.  That's power projection in my book.

I'm not so worried about Putin doing anything rash as a result of Obama's taunts as I am it resulting in a series of ever escalating actions/reactions, even those "digs" you mention.  Work within the framework of international diplomacy, especially when the world agrees with you.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2014, 08:05:37 PM »
... Your response reads like the impetuous, emotional response of an angry adolescent or a cranky old senior citizen with one foot in the grave...


Too many refuse to understand history or learn from it.  Some of them can even entangle themselves in details of events and situations and still have no understanding of them or how they are related.

That our representative from the morons of Occupy falls into this category is not a surprise.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2014, 09:04:33 PM »
Yeah, sounds like we are about the same age.  Still remember hiding under my desk during school "duck and cover" drills in the 60s.

We did the "duck and cover" drills, but our school called them "disaster drills" and told us it was what we were supposed to do if there was a tornado.  They never said anything about nuclear attack, and it wasn't until a few years later when I saw that "Duck and Cover" cartoon with the turtle that I figured out what they were really for.  I'm not sure why they deceived us, because possible war with the Soviet Union weighed on a lot of kids' minds, so it wasn't like they were protecting us from something we didn't already know.  Of course, where I grew up, tornadoes are a very real threat, but thinking back, the drills ended shortly after the policy of detente with the USSR began, so I doubt it was a coincidence.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2014, 09:14:16 PM »
Not sure what it has to do with my original post, however, unless you are saying Obama made his statement to bait Putin into rebuilding the Tsarist Empire to bankrupt Russia decades down the road.
I was saying it was some kind of baiting.  Words are free and foreign aid costs money, so this is probably just some posturing and Putin seems like a guy whose pride will be his downfall.

I'm with you and don't consider Russia a "regional power" unless region means the Earth. So obviously another dig. I wonder if he could get Putin on the basketball court? Chat about how Sabonis  beat us in the Olympics or something.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2014, 12:29:54 AM »
It's very important to remember that Putin does not view the world in the same manner as we do, here in the West. Putin is on record as saying one of the greatest travesties of the 20th century was the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

I think Putin is trying to get the old band back together. It's not going to happen overnight; it's not going to happen in the next 20 years. But that's the thing about  Putin which sets him apart from his short-sighted, impatient Western adversaries.

Putin is playing long ball. He'll take the easy wins when the opportunities present themselves, while continuing to infiltrate, subvert, and influence his neighbors.  Putin's gaze is fixed over the horizon. He probably feels it is his duty to try to restore the old glory of the Soviet Union. And if it takes 100 years, a few million people being crushed in the process, so be it.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2014, 01:39:51 AM »
This statement seems to have been deliberately worded to take a poke at Putin. It's diplomacy 101, provocative statements provoke. It provoked all of you, so you can bet the Kremlin is provoked as hell. By reducing Russia to the insulting status of a regional power, Obama invites Putin to demonstrate that Russia is a global superpower.

I have no idea why Obama would want that, but I'm sure it's going to result in Tupolevs flying through US airspace and much saber rattling. Or, alternatively, it may result in further invasions. Perhaps Belarus, or even the NATO Baltic states.

Either Obama wants to escalate this further, or he wants to give Russia a reason to act on a bigger scale. In other words, Obama wants conflict or he's cut a deal with Putin. I have no idea which, but given our weak responses so far I'm guessing they've cut a deal. I won't go so far as to chalking it up to Obama's stupidity, he's got too many career diplomats around him for that.

I'd have just went to the UN and slapped serious sanctions on Russia. They won't work, but at least they would preserve the world order and tell any other country interested in moving its borders (half of Africa, Indonesia, etc.) that it is still not acceptable. I suspect that will be the real cost of all of this, global destabilization. We've erased huge amounts of work by both liberal and conservative presidents to make the world safe. This is a step backwards.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2014, 08:59:29 AM »

Too many refuse to understand history or learn from it.  Some of them can even entangle themselves in details of events and situations and still have no understanding of them or how they are related.

That our representative from the morons of Occupy falls into this category is not a surprise.
Now adolescent emotionalism morphs into insecure condescension.

You presume to have learned from history yet still speak in absolutes.  You've learned nothing if you do not understand the nuance of post WWII global reality and judging by your recent posts, you still have a John Wayne view of international relations. 

America's strength doesn't stem from its military; our strength stems from the commitment we as a people have to freedom and self-determination (indeed our current, all volunteer service is a reflection of that commitment).  When we project choice over dictation we project true power.

Your way?  Korea. Vietnam. Cuba. Iraq. Afghanistan, part II

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2014, 09:18:32 AM »
Cowardly?  As for how we are seen in the "world's eyes," I realized long ago other nations hold the US to much higher standards than they are willing to hold themselves.  The idea of a nation acting in its own vital interests, even at the expense of others, is no more limited to the US than it is to either political party within the US.  How those interests are viewed at the time they are identified as opposed to down the road is for history (and voters I suppose in some nations) to judge.  Ever wonder how different the world, and especially the Middle East, would be today if Eisenhower had supported the Brits and French at Suez in 1956?

I don't learn history by watching movies, but I get your point.  I'm sure you would agree, however, the concept of "institutionalizing democracy" sounds great in principal, but is a serious challenge to do in nations where the concepts of human rights and representative government are as alien as ritual female genital mutalation would be here.  Cultural/social inertia, especially that which has been in force for centuries, is difficult to overcome.  Not saying it's not worth the effort to institute the concepts those of us lucky enough to have been born into such a society take for granted, but we also must be realistic.  Such changes could take generations, not just years.

Forty years ago I would have agreed with the idea of arming covert irregular forces in such situations, but sadly we've seen the death and misery such efforts bring to the overwhelming number of people who simply want to live their lives.  In such cases, those caught in the middle are nothing more than collaterial damage to either side.  Regime change will mean little to those people even if it occurs.  I have a tough time now advocating actions history tells us is going to kill multitudes of innocents in an attempt to bleed a political enemy dry, especially when most are designed at the outset to be open ended.
I agree with you about the devastation of collateral damage caused by these localized conflicts, but I weigh that versus the damage caused by world war level conflicts.  We've witnessed the horror and devastation that primitive nuclear weapons caused to Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the next nuclear conflict will obviously not end so well for us (or anyone).  Hence the gamesmanship of vassal states and other actors in the field.
The idea really isn't to force an engagement, just the level of preparation to engage.  If the Russians can muster forces to occupy territory then they aren't sufficiently engaged in other areas.  What about stepping up relations with Turkey? Poland? Ukraine?  Creating a sphere of interest that would have Putin seeing potential threats from around his region would force him to prepare for conflict. History has shown us that Russia does not have the resource or will to maintain a choke hold on so many pulling in so many directions.  The collapse of the Soviet Union was about vast expenditure of resources for the appearance of power as it was about horrible centralized planning of agriculture and industry.
As to Suez?  You are well versed enough to know that since Gavrilo Princip, the fate of European empire had been sealed.  Eisenhower, like FDR before him, detested colonialism (he was loathe to support the French efforts in Indochina - and that really only to blunt Communist momentum) and would never have assented to France or Britain's objective (though Israel did achieve some success) to maintain Euro control of what really was an Egyptian asset.  The British often point to Suez as the end of their position of prominence on the world stage but I would argue Gandhi dealt a mortal wound to British Imperialism that could not be stanched by controlling Suez.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2014, 12:22:18 PM »
It's all a conspiracy between the liberal MSM and Obama to distract from Obamacare.  After all, the highly-loaded question was asked by lefty-by-definition Jon Karl from ABC.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2014, 01:00:42 PM »
Geez, someone with common sense who obviously knows history and keeps up on current events.  Do you think anyone's actually going to listen to you?  ;)
Well, frankly, no.  ;D
Robert Ghost Wolf site very interesting - ashamed to admit I had no idea who he was and I've listened to Coast for over a decade.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2014, 01:26:31 PM »
Well, frankly, no.  ;D
Robert Ghost Wolf site very interesting - ashamed to admit I had no idea who he was and I've listened to Coast for over a decade.

He was a fairly regular guest of Art's and died in December, 2005.  His schtick was that he was some sort of Native American shaman/visionary/healer/wheeler-dealer, but his real name was Robert Franzone, his ancestry was Italian, and he had a long history as a con artist.  If I remember right, he claimed to know about a secret valley where many of the rock formations had been carved into animal shapes by ancient aliens or giants or some such thing. Even before I knew about his real identity, he always sounded like he was full of it and trying to pull the old fake mystical, magical Native American scam. 

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2014, 01:31:06 PM »
I agree with you about the devastation of collateral damage caused by these localized conflicts, but I weigh that versus the damage caused by world war level conflicts.  We've witnessed the horror and devastation that primitive nuclear weapons caused to Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the next nuclear conflict will obviously not end so well for us (or anyone).  Hence the gamesmanship of vassal states and other actors in the field.
The idea really isn't to force an engagement, just the level of preparation to engage.  If the Russians can muster forces to occupy territory then they aren't sufficiently engaged in other areas.  What about stepping up relations with Turkey? Poland? Ukraine?  Creating a sphere of interest that would have Putin seeing potential threats from around his region would force him to prepare for conflict. History has shown us that Russia does not have the resource or will to maintain a choke hold on so many pulling in so many directions.  The collapse of the Soviet Union was about vast expenditure of resources for the appearance of power as it was about horrible centralized planning of agriculture and industry.
As to Suez?  You are well versed enough to know that since Gavrilo Princip, the fate of European empire had been sealed.  Eisenhower, like FDR before him, detested colonialism (he was loathe to support the French efforts in Indochina - and that really only to blunt Communist momentum) and would never have assented to France or Britain's objective (though Israel did achieve some success) to maintain Euro control of what really was an Egyptian asset.  The British often point to Suez as the end of their position of prominence on the world stage but I would argue Gandhi dealt a mortal wound to British Imperialism that could not be stanched by controlling Suez.

Are localized wars such as we've seen since the end of WWII preferable to a world war that would, in all liklihood, include the use of nuclear weapons?  Probably, but it seems shortsighted to consider only two scenarios that are arguable at the extreme ends of the geo-political spectrum of such matters.  It's clearly not a case of arms the rebels or launch the nukes.  There are options in between, but admittedly without a one-size-fits-all solution across the board.  Amazingly, some of those options do not include military action of any kind.

Arming the Marquis and other western European undergrounds during WWII worked because, once the Germans were defeated, there were governments-in-exile waiting in the wings (usually London) to go back into power and resume the style of representative governments that had existed in those nations for many years.  There we had a return to normalcy, and normal was pretty good for overwhelming majority of the people of formerly occupied (western) Europe.  Contrast that to the situations we've seen since WWII, in most cases the lives of the locals were at best no worse than they had been before/during what amounted to proxy war funded by geo-political rivals.  Those rivals were adding fuel to the fire to weaken their opposite number in the bigger picture, it wasn't about liberating anyone or making their lives better.  The locals were just pawns.

Turkey and Poland are both NATO members, so I think it's safe to say they are already in the fold relative to the Russians.  And although not a NATO member, Ukraine knows who is the only nation/alliance that can counter-balance the Russians militiarily, but far more importantly diplomatically.  One would hope the Ukrainians, or at least their leadership, understand the US and (especially) the Europeans are not going to war to protect them from the Russians, however.  Didn't happen in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, or most recently, Crimea.  Won't happen here either.

Suez is perhaps the least understood military operation of the last century.  For the French is was clearly a colonialist action meant to stop Nasser from supporting the FLN and other various nationalist factions in Algeria.  For the Brits, it was more about oil.  If after the Egyptians nationalized the Canal they were incapable of operating the Canal or opted to restrict its use, the Brits were screwed when it came to efficiently getting oil from the Middle East.  For the Israelis, a successful operation meant not only buffer space and access to the sea through the Straits of Tiran, it would rid them of Nasser, the one man they feared could unite the Arab states against them.

So three nations working together for largely different reasons (save ousting Nasser) launched a military action against Egypt without consulting the US.  (Although the attack surely wasn't a surprise for the US, Dulles was up to his neck in the whole Suez crisis brought about by the nationalization of the canal.)  Yes, Eisenhower was not a big fan of colonialism, but I think the arguement can be made his lack of support for the operation had more to do with seeing things through the lens of the Cold War than anything else.  He feared the actions of the three nations could push both Arab nations and the non-aligned movement closed to the Soviets.  He was also concerned with the situation in Hungary going on at the same time.  The Soviets were masters of taking advantage of confusion and instability, and also saw an opportunity to further an apparent rift among the three primary members of NATO. Wisely, the Soviets took advantage of the situation and contended the whole episode was an attempt for the Brits and French to revert to their past colonial glory. 

But what if the US had backed the Brits and French, not with direct military action but by supporting them in the UN/diplomatically and warning off/counter-balancing the Soviets?  Would the USSR have gone to war over Egypt?  Doubtful, at least according to archieves that came out of the Kremlin after the fall of the USSR.  We also know the Soviet threat to attack London and Paris with atomic missiles was hollow.  So if Nasser had fallen, who would have assumed the leadership of Arab world?  No one comes to mind who could have assumed that role if Egypt, the most powerful and populous of all the Arab states, had been defanged.  Would France still have lost Algeria?  Yes, eventually.  Would there have been a Six Day War?  Probably not.  Would the rise of pan-Arab nationalism, and the radical Islamic movement that, an arguement can be made evolved from it, have us where we are today?  I don't think so.

Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2014, 03:14:17 PM »
Sail the ex- 5th Fleet into the Black Sea.  Expose whatever carrier to attack almost 360-degrees  because THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT, right boys??   GET SOME U.S. FORCES SHOT  then you have your new mega war, right?  Mega war for perpetual mega profits for the self-appointed profiteers Cheney and Rumsfeld, right??




Re: Russia--Regional Power??
« Reply #29 on: March 26, 2014, 03:22:52 PM »
Are localized wars such as we've seen since the end of WWII preferable to a world war that would, in all liklihood, include the use of nuclear weapons?  Probably, but it seems shortsighted to consider only two scenarios that are arguable at the extreme ends of the geo-political spectrum of such matters.  It's clearly not a case of arms the rebels or launch the nukes.  There are options in between, but admittedly without a one-size-fits-all solution across the board.  Amazingly, some of those options do not include military action of any kind.

Arming the Marquis and other western European undergrounds during WWII worked because, once the Germans were defeated, there were governments-in-exile waiting in the wings (usually London) to go back into power and resume the style of representative governments that had existed in those nations for many years.  There we had a return to normalcy, and normal was pretty good for overwhelming majority of the people of formerly occupied (western) Europe.  Contrast that to the situations we've seen since WWII, in most cases the lives of the locals were at best no worse than they had been before/during what amounted to proxy war funded by geo-political rivals.  Those rivals were adding fuel to the fire to weaken their opposite number in the bigger picture, it wasn't about liberating anyone or making their lives better.  The locals were just pawns.

Turkey and Poland are both NATO members, so I think it's safe to say they are already in the fold relative to the Russians.  And although not a NATO member, Ukraine knows who is the only nation/alliance that can counter-balance the Russians militiarily, but far more importantly diplomatically.  One would hope the Ukrainians, or at least their leadership, understand the US and (especially) the Europeans are not going to war to protect them from the Russians, however.  Didn't happen in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, or most recently, Crimea.  Won't happen here either.

Suez is perhaps the least understood military operation of the last century.  For the French is was clearly a colonialist action meant to stop Nasser from supporting the FLN and other various nationalist factions in Algeria.  For the Brits, it was more about oil.  If after the Egyptians nationalized the Canal they were incapable of operating the Canal or opted to restrict its use, the Brits were screwed when it came to efficiently getting oil from the Middle East.  For the Israelis, a successful operation meant not only buffer space and access to the sea through the Straits of Tiran, it would rid them of Nasser, the one man they feared could unite the Arab states against them.

So three nations working together for largely different reasons (save ousting Nasser) launched a military action against Egypt without consulting the US.  (Although the attack surely wasn't a surprise for the US, Dulles was up to his neck in the whole Suez crisis brought about by the nationalization of the canal.)  Yes, Eisenhower was not a big fan of colonialism, but I think the arguement can be made his lack of support for the operation had more to do with seeing things through the lens of the Cold War than anything else.  He feared the actions of the three nations could push both Arab nations and the non-aligned movement closed to the Soviets.  He was also concerned with the situation in Hungary going on at the same time.  The Soviets were masters of taking advantage of confusion and instability, and also saw an opportunity to further an apparent rift among the three primary members of NATO. Wisely, the Soviets took advantage of the situation and contended the whole episode was an attempt for the Brits and French to revert to their past colonial glory. 

But what if the US had backed the Brits and French, not with direct military action but by supporting them in the UN/diplomatically and warning off/counter-balancing the Soviets?  Would the USSR have gone to war over Egypt?  Doubtful, at least according to archieves that came out of the Kremlin after the fall of the USSR.  We also know the Soviet threat to attack London and Paris with atomic missiles was hollow.  So if Nasser had fallen, who would have assumed the leadership of Arab world?  No one comes to mind who could have assumed that role if Egypt, the most powerful and populous of all the Arab states, had been defanged.  Would France still have lost Algeria?  Yes, eventually.  Would there have been a Six Day War?  Probably not.  Would the rise of pan-Arab nationalism, and the radical Islamic movement that, an arguement can be made evolved from it, have us where we are today?  I don't think so.
To be fair, space and time limitations cause some bluntness on my part.  I certainly did not mean to suggest that parrying Putin was an either/or scenario, just one active way of keeping him in check. I would continue to point out that ever widening sanctions, a steady decrease in Russian resource consumption (especially from Germany), and counter alliances (strenghtening ties with Turkey and even China) would continue to give Putin pause regarding further ambition.
Your analysis of the Suez Crisis is spot on except for one glaring assertion: the very existence of Israel had already given rise to Hamas and to the PLO and there was already activism against the Shah in Iran. Khomeni was working from exile in much the same as Ho Chi Minh.  Point being there would have been eventual regional instability regardless of Nasser's uniting force. (This is not to discount Nasser, but merely to explain that Islamist forces were going to rise regardless of his tremendous influence over the Arabian world.)  Remember, too, the sway held by the desire to restore the Islamic Caliphate in the wake of colonial intercession in the Arabic world.  This would have also eventually manifested itself in either state or non-state actors, or both.