Kerry’s negotiating desperation re Putin would be funny if it wasn’t so scary

John Kerry's Right To Be StupidAs I was driving home from the swimming pool today, I heard that Russia’s representative was refusing to accede to John Kerry’s request that the Russians sit down for face-to-face negotiations with the Ukrainians. My first thought was that the report was way too polite. Kerry’s not requesting, he’s begging.

My second thought was that this is what happens when the President of the United States spends five years making it plain that America will not use its power and, worse, that the president’s word cannot be relied upon. Kerry has no leverage.

As for my third thought, I didn’t actually have a third thought.  Instead, I’m borrowing from a friend, who forwarded his thoughts on the matter to me:

Obama and Kerry attempting to use diplomacy with Putin is like trying to use reason with robbers during a home invasion. As they are talking, he’s filling his pockets and getting the tactical advantage. If he gets away with this who’s next? Further, why would anyone choose to negotiate over something they can simply take?

All of the above would be amusing if it was written into a lunatic novel.  (By the way, if you’re looking for a wonderful, clever, laugh-out-loud funny lunatic novel, I highly recommend Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood.)  But this is isn’t a lunatic novel.  It’s real life, and Obama has managed to destroy in five years almost 70 years of American influence.

A Ukraine round-up

Russian Ukraine invasionI’ve read so many excellent articles about the Ukraine, I wanted to pass them along:

Every time a Leftist media rag has a momentary epiphany that Obama isn’t the messiah, all I can think is “Too little too late.”  Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that those epiphanies don’t make a point.  Such is the case with the WaPo’s observation that Obama’s foreign policy is built upon a fantasy of the world as it should be, rather than the world as it is.

The fact that Putin may also be living out a fantasy, as Angela Merkel surmises, is irrelevant.  Putin is living out his fantasy with guns and tanks, which makes him an extremely dangerous fantasist.

In any event, it’s not clear to me that there’s anything fantastic about Putin’s plan.  As every Russian leader has wanted since at least Catherine the Great’s time, Putin needs a warm water port, this time to export Russia’s energy reserves.  He also knows that, while his nation is in demographic and economic decline (a) selling reserves will at least offset the economic losses and (b) aiming a gun at people unwilling to fight back is a good way to offset a demographic drop.

Apropos that warm water port, a liberal asked me “Why is Putin doing this?”  My response aside from the obvious “because he can,” was “because he wants a warm water port.”  The liberal sneered at me that this isn’t the 19th century anymore.  I suspect that he hadn’t read that Lurch er . . . Kerry said exactly the same thing.  Instead, this is just a default Leftist sneer.  In fact, as I noted above, a warm water port is an excellent thing for the Russians and Putin knows it.  He is therefore following State Craft Rule 101:  act in your own self-interest.  As Tom Rogan explains, no airy-fairy theory in the world will override this number one rule of governance.

(I can’t resist an aside here, which is that Obama’s policies have not been to America’s self-interest, unless our nation’s self-interest demands bankruptcy, security weakness, and cultural collapse.  This means that because he’s clearly following a game plan, his self-interests are at odds with America’s.  He sure is some president.)

Everyone acknowledges that nobody is going to run for their guns to defend Ukraine.  David Goldman astutely points out that Ukraine has never had a history of true independence, that it lurched from one oligarchy to the next, that it’s completely bankrupt, and that no one has a real interest in engaging with Russia over it (as Putin knows).

Still, the U.S. and the world are not entirely helpless.  While it’s unlikely that America or the EU can pry Putin away from his warm water port, they can constrain him.  Timothy Snyder, who wrote the devastating Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, thinks that Europe has a lot of soft power that it can bring to bear on a nation whose leisure class loves to travel to and spend money in Europe.

I wonder, though. What Europe wants above all is cheap energy — and Putin’s Crimean takeover promises them that. I think the EU will huff and puff for a while, and then wallow in the black gold flowing its way.

That’s my two cents. Drew, at Ace of Spades, didn’t futz around with two cents worth of links and thoughts. He goes all out in an excellent post that I see, after reading it, heads in much the same direction as mine, only with much more data and analysis.

The Diplomad ties everything up in a neat package with a very important observation:  our foreign policy will continue to fail unless we, at home, create a true commitment to liberty.  As long as the weak, America-hating, internationalist, Islamophilic, socialist Obama controls the government, that’s not going to happen.  We therefore have to hope that we can weather a few more years of Obama at the helm and then hope even more that a true leader runs for the White House and that the American people have the sechel to elect him.

One more thing.  Remember the young Kerry who included in his Congressional testimony during the Vietnam War a reference to “Jen-gis Khan”?  Jen-gis Khan!  Huh!  It took  a moment for most people to realize that Kerry was speaking about a historical figure everyone else in America called (and calls) “Gen-gis Khan”?

That snotty reference to a commonly named figure warned us long ago that Kerry is a self-involved, arrogant, elitist poseur.  Knowing what we know about him, are we surprised that, while the rest of American is focused on Kiev, Kerry is focused on Kyiv?