Tag Archives: NATO

Putin builds NATO solidarity

Russian President Vladimir Putin has succeeded in accomplishing one unintended goal: building unity among the nations comprising the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO weighs lethal aid for Ukraine

NATO is meeting this week in Wales and leaders from member nations are pondering whether to provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine in its struggle to maintain its independence from Russian aggressors.

Given the success NATO had in keeping the Soviet Union from invading western Europe until its demise in 1991, this must be seen as a positive development.

NATO came into existence after World War II. The Soviets had liberated eastern Europe from the Nazi monsters. They didn’t give up control of those nations once the shooting stopped. NATO was born out of concern that the USSR would seek to expand its influence across all of Europe. NATO’s main mission was defend against Soviet aggression. An attack against one NATO nation would be seen as an attack on the entire alliance.

President Obama has reaffirmed that principle in declaring that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine must be stopped and he warned Putin against entertaining any notions of taking back other NATO nations — such as the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Ukraine isn’t a member of NATO, but the alliance’s concern about possible Russian aggression is well-founded.

The NATO nations are rediscovering why they are bound together.

Strongest 'non-incumbent in history'? I don't think so

Question for David Plouffe, the former campaign guru for President Obama: What in the world did they teach you in political science classes at the University of Delaware?

Plouffe was a panelist this past Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” news-talk show.

He declared that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s is virtually assured to be the next president of the United States.

Plouffe said Clinton is the “strongest non-incumbent candidate in U.S. political history.”


When I heard him say it, two words came immediately to mind: Dwight Eisenhower.

Let’s flash back to 1952.

General of the Army Eisenhower was just seven years removed from his key role in defeating Nazi Germany and bringing an end to World War II’s fighting in Europe. He came home to huge parades.

Ike then went on to become president of Columbia University and later took over as supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe.

President Truman did not run for re-election in 1952, leaving the field wide open.

Gen. Eisenhower stepped up.

The Republican from Denison, Texas was virtually pre-ordained to become president that year. He defeated Adlai Stevenson in a massive Electoral College landslide, winning 442 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 89. Ike would repeat the drubbing four years later when he ran for re-election.

It’s fair to ask whether Plouffe is fully aware of Dwight Eisenhower’s standing among Americans those 62 years ago.

Hillary Clinton figures to be a strong candidate for president if she decides to run.

Is she the strongest non-incumbent in American political history?

I do not believe that’s the case.


Vise tightens around Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be an atypical world leader, coming as he does from a world of spooks.

He does, however, hang with people with lots of money — which doesn’t make him much different from other heads of state and/or government.

Thus, the increased sanctions announced today by President Obama just might persuade the Russian leader to end his effort to foment unrest in Ukraine.


The White House announced that it is implementing further economic hardship on individuals and companies close to Putin. Obama called it a “calibrated effort” designed to inform Putin of the folly of his continued presence in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs.

The sanctions already announced have had an impact. The Russian ruble’s value has plummeted, along with the Russian stock exchange. Russian investments have tanked.

Have the efforts persuaded Putin to back off? No. They have, however, persuaded the Russians to seek a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, which exploded several months ago with the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russia president and the subsequent annexation of Crimea into Russia.

We’ve seen a lot of blustering among Russians, Americans, NATO and the European Union. No one should really believe all-out war is going to erupt, despite claims by both sides that the other guys want to start a shooting war.

“The goal here is not to go after Mr. Putin, personally,” Obama said. “The goal is to change his calculus with respect to how the current actions that he’s engaging in in Ukraine could have an adverse impact on the Russian economy over the long haul.”

Actually, Mr. President, the goal seems to be to go after Putin “personally,” which is OK with me and I am guessing a lot of other Americans.

Make him squirm.

Who's Putin calling meddlesome?

Russian President Vladmir Putin is exhibiting some major stones, brass, cajones … whatever.

He sends troops into Crimea, which used to be part of Ukraine, and takes over the region from another sovereign nation. He masses tens of thousands of troops on the Ukraine’s border with Russia, threatening further military action.

He then accuses Ukraine of acting irresponsibly by using its own military to put down pro-Russian demonstrators. Furthermore, he accuses the West — including the United States — of meddling in Ukraine’s affairs.


Kettle, meet pot.

It’s quite astonishing to hear the leader of a large nation with a substantial military force lecture the rest of the world about such matters.

Russia has interfered in another sovereign nation’s internal affairs. Russian troops have entered Ukrainian territory. And Russia’s strongman president has the gall to lecture the United States and its allies about diplomatic decorum?


The European Union, NATO, the United States and other key allies are preparing to ratchet up further economic measures aimed at crippling the Russian economy. The first rounds of sanctions already are taking a big bite out of the Big Bear’s backside.

Putin’s stern language is not going to help quell the tension or ease the pain that is about to be inflicted on his nation.

Vlad calls Barack to talk diplomacy

Why do you suppose Vladimir Putin called Barack Obama today to talk about diplomacy?

As in finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, the one instigated when Russia sent troops to Crimea and massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine — after Ukraine ousted its pro-Russian president?


What do you suppose is going on here?

It might be that those economic sanctions, the ones that President Obama’s critics said were mere pin pricks in the hide of the old Russian bear are beginning to take their toll. It also might be that the European Union’s threat of political isolation and NATO’s insistence that any further military action will not be tolerated by the Western European alliance.

Tough guy Vladimir Putin, the former KGB spook in chief turned Russian president, called the president of the United States today to talk about a diplomatic solution to this crisis. The two leaders agreed to have their countries’ chief foreign emissaries — Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — meet soon to begin hammering out a solution.

The targeted sanctions have begun taking a serious bite out of some key Russian backsides. President Obama has vowed deeper, more sweeping measures if the Russians escalated their encroachment even more. To date, the sanctions have involved freezing access to cash for some of Russia’s key money men and political insiders.

Obama has made the point repeatedly in recent days that Russia has acted against Ukraine out of weakness, not strength. He’s insulted Putin by referring to Russia as a “regional power” not worthy of consideration by this country as a major geopolitical foe. Russia has been kicked out of the G-8 conference of industrialized nations and has seen the next economic summit pulled from Sochi, Russia and relocated to Brussels, Belgium.

He’s now willing to talk about a diplomatic solution.

Methinks those “toothless sanctions” have grown some fangs.

Don't discount pain of economic punishment

Before we let the chicken hawks and armchair generals get too far ahead of themselves in this U.S.-Russia confrontation debate, it’s good to perhaps understand what kind of pain can be delivered via economic sanctions leveled against Russia.

A number of President Obama’s critics want him to do more than just level some specific economic sanctions against Russia. They want some form of military option, such as arming Ukrainian military units and sending troops to NATO nations as a standby warning to Russia.


However, the sanctions that Obama has imposed on a number of key Russian leaders with lots of money spread around in banks throughout the world well could put a serious damper on an already-weak Russian economy.

Russia’s economic growth is near zero. The Crimean region that Russia has effectively annexed is an economic basket case. Corruption still runs rampant throughout Russia, with gangsters and thugs controlling an underground economy that dwarfs many aspects of the above-ground economy.

The measures enacted by the White House through executive orders signed by the president are meant to deny access to financial assets by key Russian leaders. It’s going to cause them considerable personal pain. There well might be more severe measures taken against rank-and-file Russians if Russia ratchets up its military involvement in Ukraine.

Let’s be crystal clear about one non-starter of an idea: War with Russia is out of the question, which Obama has declared. There will be no battlefield confrontation between the nations.

Having said that, there’s no way to guarantee what Russia might do to re-annex three Baltic states — Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, all of which are members of NATO. Let us not forget that NATO constitution says that an attack against one member nation is an attack against the entire alliance — which includes the United States of America.

The White House is banking that given the sad state of the Russian economy, the economic punishment just might be enough to give Russia pause if it aims to continue its aggression in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the chicken hawks ought to pipe down.