Russia

Imperial trappings for an empty suit

Featured image When President Obama visited Russia in 2009, his hosts, as I reported at the time, found Obama laughably naive. Indeed, they were astonished to find an American president looking for things to give away to Russia in exchange for “good will.” The Russian leadership concluded, in the prophetic words of my source, that they could “steal Obama’s pants.” The Russians also had a good laugh at Obama’s imperial trappings. These »

World-Famous Bear Trainer Encounters Setback

Featured image Am I the only one who thinks that President Obama’s insistence that Russia seized Crimea out of weakness was one of the most embarrassing moments in recent diplomatic history? Michael Ramirez evaluates the great bear trainer’s performance. Click for larger file size: »

Nature abhorred power vacuum in the 19th century, apparently still does

Featured image The New York Times reports that Afghanistan has become the third nation to publicly back Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The other two are Syria and Venezuela. Irony abounds. Afghans, including President Karzai, fought a ten-year war against Soviet invaders and their unpopular puppets. The U.S. assisted the Afghans in that struggle. Later, of course, the U.S. liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban and installed Karzai as president. Yet now, when the »

Intelligence Failure Revisited, Part 2

Featured image Musing about Putin’s swallowing up Crimea back on March 5, we posited that perhaps our intelligence agencies just aren’t that intelligent.  There’s a real howler in the lede of today’s Wall Street Journal front page article about the matter: U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders »

The weaker Ukraine is, the better for Obama

Featured image Russian troops are amassing on the Ukrainian border. Ukraine’s foreign minister warns that the chances for a war with Russia are “growing.” But still, the Obama administration has not provided weapons, ammunition, or any other kind of military aid to Ukraine despite that government’s request for such assistance, and won’t commit to providing it. Why? In my view, the answer is that President Obama wants Ukraine to be as militarily »

Puttin’ up with Putin

Featured image It is not difficult to get a fix on Barack Obama’s view of the world. It is the view of the leftover left that took the side of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Obama seems not to have changed his views or to have learned anything since his days as a college student in which he performed as a “useful idiot” for the Soviet Union. A year ago, »

Obama presents false choice on Ukraine

Featured image President Obama declared today that the U.S. will not take military action in Ukraine. I think most of us had worked that out. “What we are going to do,” Obama declared “is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message.” The clear message will be this — please, please don’t invade more territory. In ruling out military »

Report: Susan Rice wants affirmative action towards Russia

Featured image To date, Team Obama’s response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea has been criminally lame. But now Susan Rice reportedly wants to take affirmative action. Unfortunately, the affirmative action she contemplates is affirmative action in the legal sense — affirmative action on behalf of women. The post of U.S. ambassador to Russia has been vacant for three weeks. Al Kamen of the Washington Post reports “we’re hearing that national security adviser »

Obama’s “hopey” Iran policy

Featured image Don’t look now, but negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are about to begin again. The New York Times writes: Tensions between the West and Russia over events in Ukraine have cast a shadow over the second round of talks set to begin on Tuesday in Vienna on a permanent nuclear agreement with Iran. Although the talks have no direct connection to Ukraine, their success hinges on solidarity among »

Biden on the case

Featured image In the course of the Democratic primaries in 2008 Barack Obama provoked me into assessing his reading of the Cold War and the uses of diplomacy. I took a look in “The Kennedy-Khrushchev conference for dummies.” Meeting with JFK in Vienna in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, Khrushchev sized up Kennedy as a weakling and a lightweight. Kennedy lamented: “I never met a man like this,” Kennedy »

The 1930s are calling

Featured image Commentators with a cruel memory have recalled the moment from one of the 2012 presidential debates when President Obama cited Mitt Romney’s warning about the growing threat from Russia and dismissed it with a superficially sophisticated putdown: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” When I hear President Obama threatening to impose consequences on Vladimir Putin et al., or imposing them, as he did today, »

Russian markets rally on news of Obama’s sanctions

Featured image The Obama administration has sanctioned eleven Russian and Ukrainian officials. All are cronies of and/or senior advisers to Vladimir Putin. I’m in favor of sanctioning Putin’s advisers and cronies. But no one should confuse these measures with action that has any chance of influencing Putin’s behavior. Certainly, there is no such confusion in Russia. Greg White, Moscow Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, reports that Russian markets, “relieved” by »

Did the U.S. provoke the Russian bear?

Featured image Jack Matlock, Jr., a former ambassador to the Soviet Union and a long-time foreign service officer, blames U.S. policy for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Matlock is a bipartisan blamer. He indicts President Clinton, President (George W.) Bush, and Congress. Only President Obama is spared. What were our sins? They fall largely into two categories. First, we took military action in Serbia and Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval. Second, we »

Team of Nitwits reconvened

Featured image Bloomberg News reports that 60,000 Russian troops are massed across the Ukraine border. What are they doing there? They are apparently awaiting the results of the secession or consolidation vote concluding in Crimea. They are standing by to enforce the will of the people, of course, and perhaps extend it further into Ukraine. It is an impressive and audacious display of force. Readers familiar with Hitler’s prewar playbook know what »

(Almost) live from Lviv

Featured image Reader Dustin Mullenix writes from Lviv, Ukraine: The number to look for in Crimea’s referendum tomorrow: according to this article, it’s 73 percent. The article includes an accompanying photo as evidence that ballots with the “join Russia” option checked are being printed in mass quantities. False ballots represent just half of Putin’s one-two punch to guarantee a 73 percent result. According to the article Russian servicemen will also vote in »

How to get Putin’s attention while doing the right thing

Featured image Charles Krauthammer presents his plan for how to “stop — or slow — Putin.” I agree with all of the items on Krauthammer’s list. However, I’m pretty sure they won’t stop Putin and they may not slow him much. My idea is to punish Putin by doing what we should have done long ago — attacking his Middle East client state, Syria. It’s the only non-outlandish action we can take »

A word from Edmund Levin

Featured image Edmund Levin is the author of A Child of Christian Blood: Murder and Conspiracy in Tsarist Russia – The Beilis Blood Libel, just published by Schocken Books. The book is about the 1913 trial in Kiev of the Russian Jewish factory worker Mendel Beilis on a charge of ritually murdering a Christian boy and draining his blood to make Passover matzo. Mr. Levin wrote the book as a labor of »