03 Mar 2014

What Will Happen Next?

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Anonymous tourists in Simferopol

Kevin Drum, writing from the perspective of the Left in Mother Jones, predicts the US response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine:

Republicans will demand that we show strength in the face of Putin’s provocation. Whatever it is that we’re doing, we should do more.

President Obama will denounce whatever it is that Putin does. But regardless of how unequivocal his condemnation is, Bill Kristol will insist that he’s failing to support the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

Journalists will write a variety of thumbsuckers pointing out that our options are extremely limited, what with Ukraine being 5,000 miles away and all.

John McCain will appear on a bunch of Sunday chat shows to bemoan the fact that Obama is weak and no one fears America anymore.

Having written all the “options are limited” thumbsuckers, journalists and columnists will follow McCain’s lead and start declaring that the crisis in Ukraine is the greatest foreign policy test of Obama’s presidency. It will thus supplant Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and North Korea for this honor.

In spite of all the trees felled and words spoken about this, nobody will have any good ideas about what kind of action might actually make a difference. There will be scattered calls to impose a few sanctions here and there, introduce a ban on Russian vodka imports, convene NATO, demand a UN Security Council vote, etc. None of this will have any material effect.

Obama will continue to denounce Putin. Perhaps he will convene NATO. For their part, Republicans will continue to insist that he’s showing weakness and needs to get serious.

This will all continue for a while.

In the end, it will all settle down into a stalemate, with Russia having thrown its weight around in its near abroad—just like it always has—and the West not having the leverage to do much about it.


“Theodore Dalrymple”, writing from the perspective of the Right in Taki’s Magazine, predicts the European response.

[T]he Ukrainian crisis has once again revealed the European Union’s complete impotence. Physiognomy is an inexact science, but it is not so inexact that you cannot read the bemused feebleness on the faces of people such as Van Rompuy, Hollande, and Cameron, the latter so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain. Mrs. Merkel has a somewhat stronger face, but then she has the advantage of having spent time in the Free German Youth (the East German communist youth movement), which must at least have put a modicum of iron in her soul.

Be that as it may, Russia holds all the trump cards in this situation. It can turn off Western Europe’s central heating at a stroke, and for Europeans such heating is the whole meaning and purpose of life—together with six-week annual holidays in Bali or Benidorm. Therefore Europe will risk nothing for the sake of Ukraine, except perhaps a few billion in loans of no one’s money, a trifle in current economic circumstances. If Bismarck were to return today, he would say that the whole of Ukraine was not worth the cold of one unheated radiator.

7 Feedbacks on "What Will Happen Next?"


Does anyone else find it funny that the meme of the media is that these are “armed men”? That’s like saying that those who dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor were “armed pilots”. Why can’t the press bring themselves to say the Russian army invaded the Ukraine?

T. Shaw

Just add Ukraine to the list.

Did Obama get anything right?

No: not supplant. Add it to the ever-growing list. “It will thus supplant Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and North Korea for this honor.”

Obama will use it to cover the Obamacare debacle.


Here’s the rub. It isn’t just about Ukraine. NOBODY in the world can depend on the US for support anymore. Even if John McCain had been President, they would (correctly) predict that he would eventually be followed by a Democrat that would abandon them. Once upon a time, those who resisted or tried to oust leftist dictators could count on support of some kind from the US. No longer.

bob sykes

People need to stop the Cold War categories, e.g. America good, Soviet bad. All that ended in 1991.

In the case of the Ukraine, Russia is actually the (relatively) good guy and the US/EU are truly the bad guys.

First, the US/EU supported and might have engineered the overthrow of the legitimate, democratically elected government of the Ukraine by a small group of extremist ethnic Ukrainian nationalist. By international law, Yanukovych is still the legitimate President of the Ukraine. And he has now muddied the waters further by asking for Russian intervention in the Ukraine itself.

As to the Crimea, it is semi-autonomous and is still governed by a democratically elected government. While Russia does have treaty rights in the Crimea it has overstepped the limits on them. However, the Crimean government is fine with that.

So, in the Ukraine proper and in the Crimea Putin has more law and right on his side than do Obama and the Europeans. This is especially true after the aggressive adventures in Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria. Each of these has ended in chaos and misery for the people of these countries. And, significantly from Putin’s viewpoint, each was a Russian ally.

Putin’s end game seems to be the replacement of the current transitional, pro-Western and illegitimate government with one friendlier to Russian interests. There is no need for an invasion to do this because Russia has substantial if minority support in the Ukraine and the Ukrainian economy is deeply embedded in the Russian economy. E.g., the Ukraine’s industry is located in the Russian-friendly east and exports most of its products to Russia.

The main problem here is the reckless adventurism of Obama and the EU/NATO leaders. They are both delusional and arrogant. They thought they could demand and get Russian submission to their coup. But Russia has all the high cards, and it needs only wait a few months to get what it wants. If a war does break out, it will have been caused by the US and Europe. And they will lose it.


The Mother Jones excerpt is quite telling. The Left is not interested in improving conditions, they are only interested in managing perceptions (and in confiscating the resources and liberty people need to improve their own lot).

T. Shaw

Bob Sykes,

There are two problems with your commentary. One, “feckless” is misspelled (“reckless”); two, that you think Obama “thought” about anything.


Bob Sykes writes very convincingly, but there is room for constructive reaction by the US. First, the US needs to ramp up its liquified natural gas transport capabilities so Europe can stock pile against Russian threats to cut off supply. Second, the US can increase joint military exercises with Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania, etc. with a view toward bolstering the defense capabilities of Russia’s neighbors. Third, in order to better expose Russian thuggery, the US should implement mobile internet hotspots that project into the affected territories and facilitate twitter uploads by local citizens.


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