Obama Policy On Ukraine May Be Working: “Putin Is Hanging Himself By His Own Rope”

Charles Krauthammer’s most recent column—which continues the weird conservative criticism of the #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign on behalf of those kidnapped Nigerian girls—takes a shot at President Obama for doing little about “Russia’s slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine,” what Krauthammer says is “the rape of this U.S. friend.” He accuses Obama of engaging in “rhetorical fatuousness.” 

The conservative columnist and Fox pundit is among many conservatives who think Obama is to blame for much of the Ukraine crisis and for Putin’s moves there. Senator Ted Cruz, echoing Krauthammer, said President Obama is “hiding behind diplomatic babble.” He told his fellow conservatives earlier this year:

When there is a vacuum of leadership in the world, it is not a good thing for America; it is not a good thing for freedom…What this administration doesn’t understand is weakness and appeasement only invites military conflict.

Hmm. Obama is standing by, weakly, as Russia rapes Ukraine and his weakness invites military conflict. Okay. Except that, so far, as Vox’s Max Fisher tells us, “Obama’s strategy of letting Putin hang himself is working.” Fisher writes:

obama putinThe official US position has been to threaten broader sanctions that seem unlikely to get the European support necessary to make them hurt, while arguing that Russia’s actions will be so self-defeating that the problem would just sort itself out.

It sounded silly, a shrug of a policy. And maybe it even was. But it also turns out to be working surprisingly well. Russian President Vladimir Putin has over-reached in Ukraine, creating problems for himself so bad that they may force him down as or more effectively than plausible American actions alone might have (although they helped). Putin is hanging himself by his own rope.

This has been so effective, and has apparently taken Putin by such surprise, that after weeks of looking like he could roll into eastern Ukraine unchallenged, he’s backing down all on his own. Official Russian rhetoric, after weeks of not-so-subtle threats of invading eastern Ukraine, is backing down. Putin suddenly looks like he will support Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election, rather than oppose it, although it will likely install a pro-European president. European and American negotiators say the tone in meetings has eased from slinging accusations to working toward a peaceful resolution.

As Fisher points out, Most of this is economic.” Global investors are backing away and “doing tremendous damage to Putin’s Russia, nudged along by the US and Putin himself.” While that phrase “nudged along by the US” isn’t likely to win President Obama any medals from Charles Krauthammer and Ted Cruz, it appears that Obama’s soberness, his careful nudging, his “hit singles, hit doubles” diplomacy is paying off. At the end of April, the President said this:

In Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community.  Russia has never been more isolated.  A country that used to be clearly in its orbit now is looking much more towards Europe and the West, because they’ve seen that the arrangements that have existed for the last 20 years weren’t working for them.  And Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.  And we’ve been able to mobilize the international community to not only put diplomatic pressure on Russia, but also we’ve been able to organize European countries who many were skeptical would do anything to work with us in applying sanctions to Russia.  Well, what else should we be doing?  Well, we shouldn’t be putting troops in, the critics will say.  That’s not what we mean.  Well, okay, what are you saying?  Well, we should be arming the Ukrainians more.  Do people actually think that somehow us sending some additional arms into Ukraine could potentially deter the Russian army?  Or are we more likely to deter them by applying the sort of international pressure, diplomatic pressure and economic pressure that we’re applying?

As of right now, Obama was right and his critics were wrong. Let’s hope it stays that way.

And speaking of his critics, not all of them were right-wing cheerleaders for cowboy diplomacy. At least one of them, the left-leaning mega-columnist for The New York Times, Maureen Dowd, offered up some ridiculous criticism of President Obama’s diplomacy. In a piece titled as if to please Obama-haters on the right (“Is Barry Whiffing”), she wrote:

…you are the American president. And the American president should not perpetually use the word “eventually.” And he should not set a tone of resignation babe ruthwith references to this being a relay race and say he’s willing to take “a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf,” and muse that things may not come “to full fruition on your timetable.”

An American president should never say, as you did to the New Yorker editor, David Remnick, about presidents through history: “We’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”

Mr. President, I am just trying to get my paragraph right. You need to think bigger.

An American president should never say, as you did Monday in Manila when you got frustrated in a press conference with the Philippine president: “You hit singles; you hit doubles. Every once in a while, we may be able to hit a home run.”

Especially now that we have this scary World War III vibe with the Russians, we expect the president, especially one who ran as Babe Ruth, to hit home runs.

In the immortal words of Earl Weaver, the Hall of Famer who managed the Baltimore Orioles: “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.” A singles hitter doesn’t scare anybody.

It doesn’t feel like leadership. It doesn’t feel like you’re in command of your world…

What happened to crushing it and swinging for the fences? Where have you gone, Babe Ruth?

Maureen Dowd is one of those lefty pundits who every now and then needs to go against type in order to shock. That’s how she stays relevant, I suppose. But before she applies another baseball metaphor to foreign policy and diplomacy again, she should make sure she understands what she is talking about. She may long for a Babe Ruth Obama, but Ruth struck out 1330 times while hitting his 714 homers. And that doesn’t count all the other outs (4,196) he made in his 8,399 at bats. He failed to get a hit 66% of the time and failed to hit a home run more than 91% of the time.

And the world is just too dangerous a place, the lives of American troops are just too much to risk, on a commander-in-chief home run hitter, when we know that “swinging for the fences” will result in many more failures than successes.




  1. ansonburlingame

     /  May 16, 2014

    Nice try Duane, but…….

    The success or failure of Foreign Policy decisions rarely can be judged at the time they are made. Such success or failure takes a lot of time. Even then such judgments are often driven by politics.

    For example, did Reagan’s “Peace thru Strength” work? Enough time has passed to now cause most observers to say that it certainly advanced American interests in what later happened in the Soviet Union, its ulitmate economic collapse. No, Reagan alone did not cause that as any liberal will say, but it certainly supported American’s long term Cold War Policy and thus ……..

    No one yet knows the ultimate outcome in the Ukraine, say 10 years from now. BUT, with a degree of certainty, even now, there is the very likely outcome of Crimea being part of Russia and thus no concerns about access to warm water ports “forever” for Russia. I would suggest that alone is a huge Putin success and it only happened because of Russian bold and aggressive moves in the face of western objections.

    In the Eastern Ukraine I have never thought Russia would “invade” that area. But keep geopolitical pressure on the Eastern part of the Ukraine, you bet they will do so for a long time. Would anyone like to try to now rule or govern the entire Ukraine in the face of dissent in the East? Sure looks like, today, America in say 1850, trying to govern the North and South. Will 1861 in America come to pass in the Ukraine sometime in the future? Who knows. And if it does happen, a civll conflict such as is going on right now but expanded further, will Obama’s policy be deemed a success? Depends on whether the judgment of that historian, ten years from now, is a Dem of GOPer, it would seem to me.

    The real reason Obama has caused such political dissent from the right in terms of foreign policy is that he, fundamentally and very openly, tried hard to change the basic thrust of America foreign policy. He flat out rejects a concept of “Peace through Strength” at least strength of the military nature. As well during his time in office American economic strength has undoubtedly declined. Sure you will say “Bush made that happen” the economic decline, but most Americans won’t agree with you on that point, now. Obama has had plenty of time to correct economic hiccups caused by Bush but has undoubtedly failed to remedy long term economic issues that keep arising. Many, myself included, feel that his economic approach underlays and supports his willingness to reduce military strength, want to or not being a so what. No way today can we afford a miltary position to deter the aggression of Putin, except any nuclear aggression which even Putin will not challenge or conduct.

    Putin, despite the tone of this blog, is not stupid. He is a typical Russian aggressor. He will push until real resistance arises and then…… It is the historical nature of that Russian “Bear” as it is too cold to remain content in Russia alone and even Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, etc. knew that geographical situation. So does Putin and thus…….

    Ever since the Dark Ages became “enlightened” in Europe, there has been and will be tension between Russia and Europe. The same might be said further South as well, between Islam and Europe. But so what cry political partisons in America trying hard to score political points for the next election. Let’s see what happens next month, call it a foreign policy victory (unless a Benghazi arises in ones face) and move on to the election come November. Both sides play that game all the time. I even bet one side in Rome around the time just after Christ thought the barbarians would NEVER bang on Rome’s gates, right?

    One thing for sure however one can observe today. Obama in the Ukraine is doing things very much like he has already done, in Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc. So give him credit for being consistent. But to claim victory through such consistency, not in my book by a long shot.

    Morally, the American way is the correct path to follow, generally speaking in terms of how to govern. But moral strength does not always work out very well as all those folks overrun by Rome found out, long ago, or Poland and Eastern Europe and France and the coastal Europe found when facing Hitler a few decades ago as well. Britain was the only European country that proved that point in the first half of the 1940’s and they did it with military strength AND great moral courage as well.

    In Britains case the only real surprise to me is they kicked the “strength” (Churchill) out of political power right after they won the war and have never returned to geopolical power since then. Is that America’s future?

    If it is I can guarunatee you will find a “Putin” in Russia in the coming years ready and willing to push some more, against Europe and the West.



    • Anson,

      1. What part of “As of right now, Obama was right and his critics were wrong” don’t you understand? As. Of. Right. Now. My entire post was based on the way things look today, not the way things will look ten years from now. I couldn’t agree more that what matters is in the long run, a point I long ago tried to make to you about the Iraq “surge” that you found so successful (turns out, not so much). And I have made before the point that Obama’s handling of Putin and Ukraine is subject to a long-term assessment. This post just captures a snapshot of now, that’s all. I ran it to counter the assumption by right-wingers that Obama’s actions have invited Putin’s aggressiveness and have been a failure, a position I find so indefensible that it is hardly worth attacking.

      2. For both contemporary and historical reasons, I agree that Crimea is lost. No president, short of one who was willing to put American troops on the ground there, could have stopped that.  As for that “geopolitical pressure” you are worried about in Eastern Ukraine, I’m afraid that kind of pressure is what has Putin in so much economic trouble at the moment. He needs a way out, if he gives a shit about his country’s economic well-being.

      3. As for your claim that most people don’t blame Bush anymore for the economy, well, sorry, but they do. From CNN a few months ago:

      Five years into Obama’s presidency, only a third of the public believes that Obama and the Democrats are primarily responsible for the country’s current economic problems.

      More Americans continue to blame former President Bush and the Republicans.

      And a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll from just last month still found that 47% of the folks though Obama “inherited” the “current economic conditions” and only 39%—apparently people like you—blame him for it. And this is an utterly silly statement to make:

      Obama has had plenty of time to correct economic hiccups caused by Bush…

      Hiccups? You calling what happened in 2008 a case of hiccups? You calling a 9 percent shrinkage of the economy (last quarter of 2008) mere hiccups? Unemployment peaking over 10%? Hiccups? Damn. No wonder your Republican friends didn’t lift a finger to help Obama and the Democrats fix the economy. You all misdiagnosed the problem. It wasn’t cancer, everyone! It was only the hiccups! No need to do anything. They will eventually just go away. And, so, they didn’t do a damn thing.

      4. For someone who has advocated cutting the defense budget, I don’t understand your charge that Obama is reducing “military strength.” Not so. In fact, although he has proposed trimming the Pentagon, he actually is asking for more than the Republicans, wedded to the sequester, are so far willing to give him. And there is no evidence that the proposals he has made will weaken us militarily. I am sure I can find some who would argue just the opposite.

      5. I never said Putin was “stupid.” Never even implied it. In fact, the point of the piece might be that he may be responding rationally to the consequences of the mess he created.

      6. Since you are critical of Obama’s actions, I suppose you can sketch for us what he should have done about a) Egypt, b) Syria, and c) Ukraine. Oh, toss in Iran while you’re at it. Just try to keep us out of WWIII please.

      7. As for whether a future Putin will push against the West, who knows. But we do know, from the evidence today only, that Russia finds itself highly integrated with European economies, whether that future Putin (or the present one) likes it or not. And to continue to push aggressively against Europe won’t make the Russian economy grow one teensie weensie bit.



    • Anson,

      A 1997 lease agreement with Ukraine allowed Russia to keep its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol (with 15,000 personnel) until 2042. Perhaps Putin feared the new Ukrainian leadership would nullify the deal, and subsequently orchestrated the invasion of Crimea in order to secure control of a strategically important naval base. One could argue that Russian troops preemptively occupied Ukrainian territory before the lease agreement could be rescinded, even though there is no evidence that this scenario was ever in play. Coupled with allegations (again unsubstantiated) that Crimea’s ethnic Russians were in danger from pro-western Ukrainians, Putin took a page from the Bush Doctrine and launched both “bold” and “aggressive” military action against a sovereign nation based on unconvincing (or nonexistent) evidence, and despite inevitable international admonition.

      Sound familiar to Operation Iraqi Freedom? Substitute securing control of Iraqi oil fields for securing Black Sea naval base; substitute protecting American citizens from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for protecting endangered ethnic Russians. No wonder so many Fox News pundits express a palpable admiration for the ex-KGB strongman.

      The British Empire was on the ropes before the Brits kicked Churchill’s “strength” out of office. Oddly enough, Pat Buchanan blames Churchill’s “lust for war” against Germany as the reason Britain is now America’s poorer cousin. Go figure.


  2. Speaking of fatuous, this is the political silly season and the right-wing sniping over Ukraine is mostly politics. Demanding action that will hasten a solution short of war is fatuous, but there appear to be a lot of people out there who don’t understand that the Cold War is over and things are different now, principally the global economy which is all connected. Obama’s economic approach has the added advantage of the United States’ resurgence in oil and natural gas production which, given some time, ought to take some edge off of Europe’s dependence on Russian sources. We have begun to export natural gas.

    But beyond all that, I have to wonder whether Ukraine is worth getting our shorts in a knot at all. On the plus side, it is a vast country with fertile farm land and it is the nexus of major petroleum pipe lines, and Europe depends on it. But it is also a cultural, political and ethnic basket case, and has been so for centuries. They are not part of NATO and we have no mutual defense treaties with them. Further, while Ukraine had and has a nominally democratic form of government, it was corrupt. Just as in Syria, it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad. The possibility exists that neither is good and any entanglement would just make the situation worse. I think it’s a Tar Baby.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  May 17, 2014

    Well sh……! I had typed a lengthy reply and it vanished. I won’t try to repeat it however. Let me just condense it down to something simple.

    Yes, I agree Duane’s attempt was only a snapshot. That is why I responded as I did. I tried, but failed herein to show a bigger array of a picture, a “video” if you will or string of pictures.

    My real concern is Jim’s reply. I submit the whole world is a “tar baby” and always has been for America, since WWI when we really entered that “world” with real weight and strength, and yes, resolve to engage therein. The only way to avoid that attempt by many to “suck America in” is what we did for about 150 years as we consolidated our real power until…… Welcome to the 20th Century when that happened.

    Now does anyone care to try to predict the results at the end of the 21st Century? I submit that good foreign policy keeps that long term view in mind. Calling the situation today in Ukraine a “victory” of sorts for Obama, or a diminishment of Russian attempts to use power is ……, in my view. ( wrong, misguided, premature, etc. so pick your own word).

    I do know this point however, a Russian view if you will. Putin of course knew the West would not like attempts to “invade” (geopolicially influence maybe) the Ukraine and he decided, “let them bitch all they want”. He KNEW the West would not intervene with military power. He also KNEW that only diplomatic and economic strength would be used by the West to deter his efforts. He then decided, so what. Russia can take some economic responses, for a while, and then see what happens next.

    Well I have a sense of how Europe will respond, in the long term or mid term, to Russian economic situations. America does not need much, economically from Russia. Who really cares if the Space Station goes away for example. But there are things that only Russia has that Europe wants. Europe will posture right now, economically, but in the end, Europe will NEED Russian …… to avoid further economic turmoil in EUROPE.

    Just consider “oil”, fossil fuels of all sorts. Shutdown (or at least throttle back) the MIddle East AND Russian fossil fuels to Europe and all hell breaks loose in Europe. America on the other hand can …… if such happened. Putin KNOWS that and is making a bet that Europe will not stand firm over the long haul to economically deprive Russia of what IT wants from Europe, more warm weather and land!!!

    Deterrence is what it remains all about in terms of “standing up” to Russia. I submit economic deterrence is not enough today to do so. I guess liberals think such is a misguided concern. We’ll just have to wait and see now, won’t we?



    • Anson, you said,

      Deterrence is what it remains all about in terms of “standing up” to Russia. I submit economic deterrence is not enough today to do so. I guess liberals think such is a misguided concern. We’ll just have to wait and see now, won’t we?

      So, if economic deterrence is not enough, what else do you recommend? What else would a more manly, Republican president do? Like most complaints about the Ukrainian policy from the right, your criticism is devoid of specifics. Unless, of course, you wish to emulate hawks like John McCain and Dick Cheney who have consistently advocated sending arms and even air support (and no-fly zones) to one side or the other in these conflicts. Libya, Egypt, Syria, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Somalia, all similar. Is that your recommendation?

      You also said,

      Now does anyone care to try to predict the results at the end of the 21st Century? I submit that good foreign policy keeps that long term view in mind. Calling the situation today in Ukraine a “victory” of sorts for Obama, or a diminishment of Russian attempts to use power is ……, in my view. ( wrong, misguided, premature, etc. so pick your own word).

      Sure, I will. If we opt for intervention and displays of military power, I predict another century of bloody involvement, similar to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And no nuclear war, because, as you imply, our nuclear deterrence is still strong. In fact, IMHO, the Trident program alone is sufficient for that.


  4. ansonburlingame

     /  May 19, 2014

    You answered your own question, Jim. Deterrence requires strength AND resolve, long term. We now lack both in terms of a combination of all the “powers in the tool box”, which of course means military power along with all others.

    Just what are all those “power tools” that must be available to really exert influence in a crazy world? Well moral power, moral “right” has its purpose for sure. America always has that one on its side until liberals start demeaning America as immoral. That sounds like taking on a reasonably good local police force working well to deter crime but someone, one cop or two went “ape” and then some call for changing the whole damned police force rather than just punishing the offending cops!!

    Diplomatic power. OK, on the surface that means good negotiators able to sway opponents at the table. It also means having lots of “friends” to sit at the table with you. We probably still have good men and women negotiating for us, but just exactly how many “friends” do we still have I wonder.

    Then comes economic power. Well THAT has sure gone south on us since 2008. WHY it went south and what is needed to regain real economic dominance in the world is a secondary question in my view. The simple fact is we can no longer just throw our own economic weight around and get real results in America’s interests. So at best our economic clout has gone down, for whatever reason and thus ………

    Now for military power. Hmmmm. We cannot even defend a consulate now that is under fire and dead Americans lying in the buildings. Why not? But yes we still have, so far, a very capable nuclear deterrence. Yet we have a President who won a Noble Peace Prize for calling for abolishment of such forces. As for Trident being enough, on its own, to deter nuclear war, well that is a whole different subject to debate, like “putting all your eggs in one basket” when baskets get expensive and onnerous.

    Want to come up with a REAL in your face and right back at you for Putin? Easy. Start building NOW the “missile shield” in Eastern Europe RIGHT NOW and don’t say it is only to deter Iran. Tell the truth and say we are doing that to deter RUSSIA, given recent events and then build the damn things, NOW.

    I don’t know how many troops are safely still stationed in Germany but there are a lot of them, still, I suspect. Well why not put them in Poland, etc. NOW? OK, it costs money to do so. Then we can debate money issues, moving people that will not want to move, etc. But that is deterrence as I read the tea leaves is it not?

    Russia has spooks all over the Ukraine right now, no doubt. Do we? THAT is military like deterrence or at least it was back in Cold War days. But no, I would not suggest a nuclear submarine on the Danube River, either!!! But the Black Sea, maybe? Hmm wonder how Russia would react seeing a nuclear submarine going into the Black Sea, on the surface as it transits the Bosperous Straits? One tin can is a so what, but a nuclear sub that then goes down and who knows where for two months in the Black Sea, well THAT is an in your face without hitting the face of Putin, is it not?

    If that is not good enough for Putin, well we COULD, maybe, still put a Carrier Battle Group in the Black Sea. Hmmmm? Is that too “militant” on the part of America, given events today in the Ukraine? At least in doing THAT, we could gain all sorts of intelligence about just how good that Russian Black Sea fleet might really be in terms of how they would handle ASW or anti-carrier tactics in that part of the world. No shots fired but…….? Would that make Putin and others think twice?

    Right now Putin and many in Russia, and elsewhere don’t believe America still has both the real military strength and more important the resolve to use any strength. That is a failure in deterrence, the best hope mankind has today to NOT have to fight wars today.

    Bottom line Jim, deterrence is when a potential advesary looks into the “heart” of a potential opponent and sees strength and resolve. It works in schools yards, conventional tensions and nuclear tensions, all of which exist in the world today, even though we want to just talk about “ties that bind”. I would prefer someone that works hard to develop such binding ties (like mutually combating terrorism with Russia against Islam) but keeping a good stick ready at all times as well. I submit in both tone and substance, President Obama has failed to do just that. Putin and others have looked into the “heart” of America and seen a different America today.

    That worries me a lot.



    • I will agree, Anson, that aggressive military confrontation is a rush, and that it gives the public impression of some kind of progress. It feeds the passions of those who confuse patience and restraint with weakness. Your instincts are appropriate for someone of our kind of background, but not, as you know, for what I think appropriate for foreign policy. Your comments stand in contrast to mine, and I’m satisfied to let others judge them. But, I must publicly disagree with your straw man accusation that president Obama has “failed” to keep our deterrence strong. Those programs are no different under him than they were under W.


  5. ansonburlingame

     /  May 19, 2014

    Please don’t give me the old strawman accusation. Our military strenght today is less than it was in 2008, no doubt. That happened on Obama’s watch. Obama’s whole world view of military power and its uses is well known to everyone. He just does not like it and rarely will use it expect……. And of course he will only use it against the likes of Gahaffi, Syria, maybe, etc. Face to face with Russia? No way.

    I am not talking about a war and you know it. I am talking about “showing the flag” as it used to be called. That is a demonstration of resolve, a sign of what might come later if ……. You call that “aggressive tactics” and I call it traditional demonstrations of America resolve in the past, but not now.

    But anyway, no need to argue and shout at each other which we really haven’t done in this exchange. Of course we can differ and of course others must decide good or bad or who cares.

    You know my view about Ukraine now and I know yours. Fine we can also disagree which is no surprise either. But I hope you agree that deterrence without strength and resolve is an empty threat and people like Putin and many others will call us on it all the time. He has been doing so for several months now and our “economic sanctions” are ………..



    • @ Anson,

      If being accused of using straw man arguments has become a sore point with you, I ask you to consider that it might have some basis in fact. A review of the definition might be useful:

      straw man noun a sham argument set up to be defeated

      What I was referring to was your statement:

      . . . keeping a good stick ready at all times as well. I submit in both tone and substance, President Obama has failed to do just that. Putin and others have looked into the “heart” of America and seen a different America today.

      Your statement flatly contends that Obama has failed to maintain America’s military power while offering no evidence in support. It is true that the Pentagon is drawing down ground-based combat forces as we leave the two ill-advised and disastrous nation-building wars the president inherited, but that is being done as part of a sensible strategy that envisions fewer such military interventions in the future and more reliance on technology such as drones, satellites and special forces. The strategy also, obviously, includes strategic use of America’s economic power in the new reality of the global economy. I think this is inspired. I’m not certain it will work but it sounds like it will. If it doesn’t, then maybe we will be back to a Cold War, and if that’s the only future you see, then vote Republican because that seems to be their dominant vision.

      This is not the cold war anymore and the Russian military, or at least its Navy, is a mere shadow of its former self. Nuclear deterrence and NATO ensure that there will not be a repeat of an invasion of Eastern Europe and a new Iron Curtain. Also, all nations are more economically interdependent than before. Europe needs Russian oil, but since they make little but weapons themselves, the Russians are just as dependent on Europe and other nations. As Duane points out, this seems to be sinking in, even into Putin’s iron head.

      This is why I say your statement is a straw man argument. To assume without considering strategy and context that any numerical reduction in armed forces or failure to be militarily confrontational is “weakness”, is in my opinion a false argument. Some might say a sham.


  6. ansonburlingame

     /  May 21, 2014

    About a year or so ago I found out that of the 10 remaining aircraft carriers in the fleet, 5 of them were tied up to the pier, unable to get underway and would remain in that condition for a long time.

    The mainstay of American defense for the last 60 years has been Sea Power. Yet today, ……

    I submit that is not a straw man argument, it is facts demonstrating a reduction by 50% in one year of our ability to sustain the bare bones of Sea Power, today. We are doing exactly what we did after Vietnam, a draw down of all military power, spread rather equally across all services.

    Is it any surprise today that we negotiated away the “missile shield” in Eastern Europe? Did that action by Obama contribute to the current boldness on the part of Russia?

    How long ago did we all hear that Obama and his administration was considering a reduction in nuclear warheads down to 300, unilaterally?

    I am as concerned over Tea Party calls for ……, the actual use of military forces in strange places, like Syria. But military strength begins with basic infrastructure AND the resolve to stick with the ability to carry the RIGHT “big sticks”. Aircraft carriers and their supporting forces, nuclear submarines and nuclear weapons are the mainstay of our traditional defense structures for half a century. Without them forget any concept of being ABLE to “project power”.

    The entire tone and substance of this administration has long been decidedly anti-military. There is no question in my mind at least that Obama’s overall approach to defense matters has been a radical change from traditional and successful defense poliices, policies that before were apolitical to a great degree.

    The Tea Party is a gross overreaction to Obama for sure. That concerns me for sure, as well.

    Aircraft carriers welded to the pier, unilateral reduction in nuclear deterrence forces, the current VA issues, sex in the military issues, attacks on the traditional military chain of command issues, and the list just goes on and on. The Ukraine situation is just a microcosm of such long term and debilitating trends in defense structure, defense command and control issues and other deeper and profound subjects related to defense.

    That concerns me as much as a saber rattling Tea Partier that will never become President, or if one does get to that point, well I will build a bomb shelter in my back yard. Today we are confronted with the likes of Obama on one extreme and Curtis LeMay on the other (of “nuke Cuba” fame during the missile crisis). Both scare me.



    • Interesting that you lay the blame for idle aircraft carriers directly at the president’s feet. You’ve got it in the wrong place, Anson. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia page on “budget sequestration”:

      Defense spending outlays (including “overseas contingency operations” for Iraq and Afghanistan) will be reduced from $670.3 billion in 2012 to approximately $627.6 billion in 2013, a decrease of $42.7 billion or 6.4%. Defense spending will fall again to $593.4 billion in 2014, a decrease of $34.2 billion or 5.5%.


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  May 22, 2014

    Com’on Jim, you are so predictable, along with others commenting in this blog. Just blame it all on the GOP, right.

    Sea Power on the part of America has been the mainstay of our defenses since before the Revolutionary War. Today our Sea Power is smaller than before WWI and getting smaller.

    That is an AMERICAN problem, not just a problem with one political party. I assert as well that our economic situtation is leading us to big trouble, bigger even than our reliance on Sea Power in the future. Again, an AMERICAN problem.

    5 aircraft carriers welded to piers is a microcosm of much larger issues today and you know it. But no one can “fix” just the problem with aircraft carriers, much less the deeper and more profound issues facing America today.

    Ah, if getting rid of the GOP, lock, stock and barrel, could solve such problems, well ……. But I suppose that is another “strawman” response, right!!!


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