Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Europe’

Obama Helps Russia Reassemble Iron Curtain

September 19, 2009

One of the things Obama has most wanted to prove was that he isn’t Bush — as though no matter how stupid his policies might be, as long as they aren’t Bush’s they must be good.

Well, Obama aint Reagan, either.

Obama appears to intend to not only roll back every Bush policy, but the fundamental victory of the Reagan presidency over the U.S.S.R.

Friday, September 18, 2009
Mark Steyn: Obama helping Putin restitch Iron Curtain
Scrapping of U.S. missile defense plans hands big victory to Russia’s new czar.

Was it only April? There was President Barack Obama, speaking (as is his wont) in Prague, about the Iranian nuclear program and ballistic missile capability, and saluting America’s plucky allies: “The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles,” he declared. “As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.”

On Thursday, the administration scrapped its missile defense plans for Eastern Europe. The “courageous” Czechs and Poles will have to take their chances. Did the “threat from Iran” go away? Not so’s you’d notice. The dawn of the nuclear Ayatollahs is perhaps only months away, and, just in case the Zionists or (please, no tittering) the formerly Great Satan is minded to take ’em out, Tehran will shortly be taking delivery of a bunch of S-300 anti-aircraft batteries from (ta-da!) Russia. Fancy that.

Joe Klein, the geostrategic thinker of Time magazine, concluded his analysis thus:

“This is just speculation on my part. But I do hope that this anti-missile move has a Russian concession attached to it, perhaps not publicly (just as the U.S. agreement to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey was not make public during the Cuban Missile Crisis). The Obama administration’s diplomatic strategy is, I believe, wise and comprehensive – but it needs to show more than public concessions over time. A few diplomatic victories wouldn’t hurt.”

Golly. We know, thanks to Jimmy Carter, Joe Klein and many others, that we critics of President Obama’s health care policy are, by definition, racist. Has criticism of Obama’s foreign policy also been deemed racist? Because one can certainly detect the first faint seeds of doubt germinating in dear old Joe’s soon-to-be-racist breast: The Obama administration “needs to show more than public concessions over time” – because otherwise the entire planet may get the vague impression that that’s all there is.

Especially if your pre-emptive capitulations are as felicitously timed as the missile-defense announcement, stiffing the Poles on the 70th anniversary of their invasion by the Red Army. As for the Czechs, well, dust off your Neville Chamberlain’s Greatest Hits LP: Like he said, they’re a faraway country of which we know little. So who cares? Everything old is new again.

It is interesting to contrast the administration’s “wise” diplomacy abroad with its willingness to go nuclear at home. If you go to a “town hall” meeting and express misgivings about the effectiveness of the stimulus, you’re a “racist” “angry” “Nazi” “evilmonger” “right-wing domestic terrorist.” It’s perhaps no surprise that that doesn’t leave a lot left over in the rhetorical arsenal for Putin, Chavez and Ahmadinejad. But you’ve got to figure that by now the world’s strongmen are getting the measure of the new Washington. Diplomacy used to be, as Canada’s Lester Pearson liked to say, the art of letting the other fellow have your way. Today, it’s more of a discreet cover for letting the other fellow have his way with you. The Europeans “negotiate” with Iran over its nukes for years, and, in the end, Iran gets the nukes, and Europe gets to feel good about itself for having sat across the table talking to no good purpose for the best part of a decade. In Moscow, there was a palpable triumphalism in the news that the Russians had succeeded in letting the Obama fellow have their way. “This is a recognition by the Americans of the rightness of our arguments about the reality of the threat or, rather, the lack of one,” said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee. “Finally the Americans have agreed with us.”

There’ll be a lot more of that in the years ahead.

There is no discreetly arranged “Russian concession.” Moscow has concluded that a nuclear Iran is in its national interest – especially if the remorseless nuclearization process itself is seen as a testament to Western weakness. Even if the Israelis are driven to bomb the thing to smithereens circa next spring, that, too, would only emphasize, by implicit comparison, American and European pusillanimity. Any private relief felt in the chancelleries of London and Paris would inevitably license a huge amount of public tut-tutting by this or that foreign minister about the Zionist Entity’s regrettable “disproportion.” The U.S. defense secretary is already on record as opposing an Israeli strike. If it happens, every thug state around the globe will understand the subtext – that, aside from a tiny strip of land on the east bank of the Jordan, every other advanced society on earth is content to depend for its security on the kindness of strangers.

Some of them very strange. Kim Jong-il wouldn’t really let fly at South Korea or Japan, would he? Even if some quasi-Talibanny types wound up sitting on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, they wouldn’t really do anything with them, would they? OK, Putin can be a bit heavy-handed when dealing with Eastern Europe, and his definition of “Eastern” seems to stretch ever further west, but he’s not going to be sending the tanks back into Prague and Budapest, is he? I mean, c’mon …

Vladimir Putin is no longer president but he is de facto czar. And he thinks it’s past time to reconstitute the old empire – not formally (yet), but certainly as a sphere of influence from which the Yanks keep their distance. President Obama has just handed the Russians their biggest win since the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, in some ways it marks the restitching of the Iron Curtain. When the Czechs signed their end of the missile-defense deal in July, they found themselves afflicted by a sudden “technical difficulty” that halved their gas supply from Russia. The Europe Putin foresees will be one not only ever more energy-dependent on Moscow but security-dependent, too – in which every city is within range of missiles from Tehran and other crazies, and is, in effect, under the security umbrella of the new czar. As to whether such a Continent will be amicable to American interests, well, good luck with that, hopeychangers.

In a sense, the health care debate and the foreign policy debacle are two sides of the same coin: For Britain and other great powers, the decision to build a hugely expensive welfare state at home entailed inevitably a long retreat from responsibilities abroad, with a thousand small betrayals of peripheral allies along the way. A few years ago, the great scholar Bernard Lewis warned, during the debate on withdrawal from Iraq, that America risked being seen as “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.” In Moscow and Tehran, on the one hand, and Warsaw and Prague, on the other, they’re drawing their own conclusions.

I am still just as stunned by the Obama betrayal of a fundamental American commitment as the Poles and Czechs.  I mean, stop and think about it:

Obama announces his betrayal of Poland and Czechoslovakia on the anniversary of the inevitable result of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s selling of Eastern Europe down the river to Hitler and Stalin.  The rationale?  That Iran is farther behind on its ballistic missile technology than had been previously believed.

And, yet, on that very same day, we learn that a confidential report from the International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran – contrary to previous intelligence assessments – can now make a nuclear bomb whenever they damn well want to.  And we become even more aware that the IAEA has been more intent on covering up Iranian (and before that Iraqi) development of weapons of mass destruction.

And my gosh, wasn’t it Democrats who kicked Bush for relying too much on intelligence assessments that can well be faulty?  Even when not only U.S. intelligence, but every single major intelligence service in the world, supported the primary conclusion that Saddam Hussein had WMD?  Why on earth does the same Barack Obama who as a candidate demonized Bush over trusting faulty intelligence on Iraq now so implicitly trust intelligence that Iran is not working on long-range missiles?

And then the very next day following that terrible 70th anniversary of September 17, 1939, Iran – which by the way can make nuclear bombs – shows just how insane they are by releasing a statement that denies the Holocaust occurred and vows that Israel’s days are numbered.

On September 17, 2009, President Barack Obama unilaterally abrogated a security agreement with two of its key Eastern European allies – who have been so loyal to America that they have kept troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – in order to appease an unfriendly Russia.  And the only thing worse than this capitulation to Russia is the despicable timing of said capitulation.

As Mark Steyn states in his title, this will result in a seismic shifting of Eastern European nations away from the untrustworthy United States and toward Russia.  All of Eastern Europe is in play: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania – and especially already-attacked Georgia – are now aware that they are basically on their own with a hungry Russian bear looming over them.

September 17, 2009 was a shameful day for Barack Obama and a shameful day for the nation that he represents.

Looming War In Eastern Europe: Deja Vu All Over Again

August 15, 2008

For the historically literate, the picture of Eastern Europe today is disturbingly reminiscent of the view circa 1939. That was the year that Nazi Germany – having provided pseudo-justifications based on staged provocations – invaded first Czechoslovakia and then Poland. Throughout the entire period leading up to these military invasions, the Western world weakly stood by and did nothing but “dialogue.”

As hundreds of Russian tanks poured into his country, CNN reporter Susan Malveaux asked Georgian President Saakashvili:

MALVEAUX: Have you reached out to them? Do you feel there’s any room for negotiation or at least to begin a dialogue or discussions?

The problem has been that Russia has done its “negotiating” with tanks.

The UK Telgraph runs a story by Josh Bolton the editors titled, “The US fiddled while Georgia burned.” And this is undoubtedly true (as Bolton himself acknowledges). But at least the US’ “fiddling” involved doing something (in the sense of trying to get Georgia admitted to NATO, which would have circumvented this entire sad affair). Europe stood by and did absolutely nothing while Georgia burned.  And the so-called “cease fire agreement” that France proffered essentially allows Russia to remain in Georgian territory for as long as they like.  Many believe that the presence of Russian forces only a few miles from the Georgian capital is a naked attempt to topple the democratic government.

Just as with Iraq, European intransigence to sound diplomatic policy led to war. By refusing to accept the United States’ demand to require meaningful weapons inspections on Iraq, the U.N. in general and France and Russia in particular took every option but open war off the table for America. And by refusing to allow the U.S.-backed Georgian bid to join NATO, our European “allies” left a democratic and pro-Western former Soviet State vulnerable to precisely the sort of attack that totalitarian Russia launched.

Josh Bolton describes the European diplomatic initiative in shades of the infamous Munich Agreement:

The European Union took the lead in diplomacy, with results approaching Neville Chamberlain’s moment in the spotlight at Munich: a ceasefire that failed to mention Georgia’s territorial integrity, and that all but gave Russia permission to continue its military operations as a “peacekeeping” force anywhere in Georgia. More troubling, over the long term, was that the EU saw its task as being mediator – its favourite role in the world – between Georgia and Russia, rather than an advocate for the victim of aggression.

After Neville Chamberlain returned from signing the infamous agreement with Hitler, and appeasing an evil tyrant in the name of “peace in our time,” an embittered Winston Churchill observed:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

Josh Bolton believes that “the extent of the wreckage [of Georgia] reaches far beyond that small country.” He goes on to write:

The West, collectively, failed in this crisis. Georgia wasted its dime making that famous 3am telephone call to the White House, the one Hillary Clinton referred to in a campaign ad questioning Barack Obama’s fitness for the Presidency. Moreover, the blood on the Bear’s claws did not go unobserved in other states that were once part of the Soviet Union. Russia demonstrated unambiguously that it could have marched directly to Tbilisi and installed a puppet government before any Western leader was able to turn away from the Olympic Games. It could, presumably, do the same to them.

Fear was one reaction Russia wanted to provoke, and fear it has achieved, not just in the “Near Abroad” but in the capitals of Western Europe as well. But its main objective was hegemony, a hegemony it demonstrated by pledging to reconstruct Tskhinvali, the capital of its once and no-longer-future possession, South Ossetia. The contrast is stark: a real demonstration of using sticks and carrots, the kind that American and European diplomats only talk about. Moreover, Russia is now within an eyelash of dominating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the only route out of the Caspian Sea region not now controlled by either Russia or Iran. Losing this would be dramatically unhelpful if we hope for continued reductions in global petroleum prices, and energy independence from unfriendly, or potentially unfriendly, states.

It profits us little to blame Georgia for “provoking” the Russian attack. Nor is it becoming of the United States to have anonymous officials from its State Department telling reporters, as they did earlier this week, that they had warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili “provoked” the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia’s manifest unwillingness to be “Finlandized” – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.

And now we are already beginning to see not only “how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come”, but right in the here and now.

In a statement about Poland that ought to send shivers up the spine of any thinking human being, a top Russian general added to the rhetoric of President Dmitry Medveded:

Only 24 hours after the weapons agreement was signed Russia’s deputy chief of staff warned Poland “is exposing itself to a strike 100 per cent”.

General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said that any new US assets in Europe could come under Russian nuclear attack with his forces targeting “the allies of countries having nuclear weapons”.

He told Russia’s Interfax news agency: “By hosting these, Poland is making itself a target. This is 100 per cent certain. It becomes a target for attack. Such targets are destroyed as a first priority.”

Russia’s nuclear rhetoric marks an intense new phase in the war of words over Georgia. The Caucasus conflict has spiralled into a Cold War style confrontation between Moscow and Washington in less than a week.

The stand off between the two cold War powers was underlined by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who dismissed US claims that the silo is a deterrent against ‘rogue states’ like Iran as “a fairy tale”. He told reporters at the Black Sea resort of Sochi: “The deployment of new missile defence facilities in Europe is aimed against the Russian Federation.”

Poland and a few other former Soviet Republicans who do not want to become future Russian republics are moving toward official relationships with the United States and Western alliances such as NATO. We must stop attempting to appease rogue and tyrant states for the sake of going along to get along in the short term and clearly and strongly back Western-leaning democratic states.

Again, Bolton is right on target:

Europe’s rejection this spring of President Bush’s proposal to start Ukraine and Georgia towards Nato membership was the real provocation to Russia, because it exposed Western weakness and timidity. As long as that perception exists in Moscow, the risk to other former Soviet territories – and in precarious regions such as the Middle East – will remain.

Obviously, not all former Soviet states are as critical to Nato as Ukraine, because of its size and strategic location, or Georgia, because of its importance to our access to the Caspian Basin’s oil and natural gas reserves. Moreover, not all of them meet fundamental Nato prerequisites. But we must now review our relationship with all of them. This, in effect, Nato failed to do after the Orange and Rose Revolutions, leaving us in our present untenable position.

By its actions in Georgia, Russia has made clear that its long-range objective is to fill that “gap” if we do not. That, as Western leaders like to say, is “unacceptable”. Accordingly, we should have a foreign-minister-level meeting of Nato to reverse the spring capitulation at Bucharest, and to decide that Georgia and Ukraine will be Nato’s next members. By drawing the line clearly, we are not provoking Russia, but doing just the opposite: letting them know that aggressive behaviour will result in costs that they will not want to bear, thus stabilising a critical seam between Russia and the West. In effect, we have already done this successfully with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Diplomacy is always worth pursuing. But diplomacy that is not backed with power and the willingness to use it is meaningless, and will always be recognized as such by tyrants and terrorists.

As we look at Russian totalitarian imperialism in Eastern Europe, and contemplate the looming menace of a nuclear-weapons-armed Iran, we must realize that much of the world is in the same mindset that the world was in in 1938. Only by recognizing that we must stand strongly against such developments will we be able to avoid the next catastrophic global harvest of death.

This is as certain as the fact that World War III follows World War II.