The Ukrainian crisis has the potential to become a major embarrassment for Obama and the US. Here is why.
1. Russia is not nearly as weak as it was in the 1990’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Oil money has buffered Moscow and strengthened Putin’s grip on power.
2. America is not nearly as strong as it was in the 1990’s. The debacle in Iraq and the economic meltdown have damaged America’s standing in the world and its ability to act. Add to this the recent Obama administration’s drastic military cuts and it makes it clear that America should not be feared.
3. This is in Russia’s backyard and they deem the Crimea (which has a heavily Russian population) as Russian territory even though technically it is a part of the Ukraine.
4. The Ukrainian president that was just forced from office was elected democratically to office although I am sure that it was corrupt. This, along with the fact that the Crimea is heavily Russian provides Putin with the justification to intervene militarily.
5. The West encouraged the demonstrators in the Ukraine but nobody should be fooled here. There is no chance of the US or Europe putting boots on the ground to protect the Ukraine.
6. The only thing the US and the West can do is talk tough and hope the Russians don’t call their bluff. Putin knows this and he will call the bluff humiliating Obama and America by default.
7. Obama’s much hyped “Russian reset” has been a total failure. A pattern has developed here with Russia playing a major role in problems around the world. Syria, Iran, and the Ukraine all have one thing in common, Russian interference.
It is interesting to see the consequences of globalization taking place all around the world today. People so often in the 90’s talked about how globalization would improve people’s lives across the globe. To be fair to some degree that has happened in places like China where several hundred million people have been lifted out of poverty by moving from the countryside to the urban manufacturing centers of China. Other nations like Germany have also benefited greatly from globalization in the form of the EU. With the barriers to trade removed from the internal European market German companies have proceeded to destroy their fellow European competition and reap the rewards. Unfortunately these two examples of countries benefiting from globalization have also cast a dark shadow across many other countries who have suffered while China and Germany have benefited. In China’s case many of the jobs in manufacturing that now power the Chinese economy were once based in America. The fallout from this in America has been significant because many of the jobs lost to China were some of the best paying jobs a non skilled worker could find in America. Recently in the last several years there has been a small glimmer of hope in the American manufacturing sector where instead of losing jobs they have actually begun adding some. It remains to be seen if this is just part of the economy coming back from the lows of the economic meltdown in 2008 or if this is part of a new trend of increased American industrial production over the long term.
The situation in Europe seems more straight forward where there is little doubt that the Euro has made life much more difficult for countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain to compete with Germany since they can no longer devalue their own currency to become more competitive. The result has been that much of southern Europe chose to use debt to fuel economic growth (much like America has done) instead of trying to make their economies more competitive. The consequences of this have been tragic for those countries with some like Greece in what can only be described as a economci depression. One thing is for certain, you don’t seem to hear nearly as many world leaders talking up the benefits of globalization because the real long term consequences have now manifested themselves and it is not a very pretty picture.
Recently word came out of North Korea that said the regime was planning on using EMP (electro magnetic pulse) weapons in any future war with South Korea. EMP blasts have the ability to knock out most if not all electronic circuitry in the blast radius. Some of you may recall that this blog has done several stories about the effects of EMP blasts. Recently Newt Gingrich compared the power outages around the 4th of July as similar to what a small EMP blast would do. To sum it up an EMP blast can send the target area back to the stone age. North Korea already has nuclear weapons ( which when detonated produce a massive EMP blast wave) so the threat has to be taken seriously. However, for now it does not seem clear if they have a safe, effective way to deliver the nuclear warhead to the upper atmosphere to detonate it where it could cause the most damage to the south. This is because of their recent missile test failure, which has done real damage to the credibility to the North’s threats. The fact that China neighbors North Korea might actually keep them from using this until they can accurately fire the missile, can you imagine the Chinese reaction if the missile veered off course and detonated above their country sending half of China back to the dark ages? Having said that the North has had successful missile launches in the past so this is cause for concern.
The Obama administration’s much touted “reset” with Russia that began in 2009 has finally and unequivocally revealed itself to be a total disaster, literally this president has been played for a fool and people have noticed. The idea behind “reset” was to wipe the slate clean with Russia in an attempt to gain their help in the UN Security Council so the West could confront Iran diplomatically instead of militarily. Any rational human being remotely interested in foreign policy knew it was doomed to fail. In fact, the only really legitimate argument that could be made in support of it would have been that it had to be tried to see if it was at all possible to avoid war with Iran over their pursuit of the bomb. Most would still have believed it was doomed to fail but at least the one last try argument to prove to the world we are not insane war mongerers made some sense. The problem has been that even though the Obama administration has been faced with near overwhelming evidence that Russia was not really going to help with Iran the Obama administration has continued along with “reset” for three and half years with no change in sight.
It’s not just Iran where this has become a problem, the Russians emboldened by America’s weakness under Obama have challenged the US in Syria, Georgia, Eastern Europe and so forth. Syria just happens to be the latest in a long string of black eyes for the US courtesy of the Russians. The most disturbing fact about Syria is that this administration actually seems surprised by Russian intransigence there. Until Obama realizes that Putin is not a willing partner but is instead the head of state of a country that is determined to undermine US policy at every possible turn he will never get anywhere with the Russians.
Today marks the 71st anniversary of the start of Operation Barbarossa which was the codename of Hitler’s invasion of Russia. The war on the eastern front during World War II was the largest clash of man and machine in the history of the world, it was the most important theater of operations of the war. I am not here to diminish what the western allies did during World War II ( it was significant), but contrary to what you have been taught or led to believe by Hollywood America did not win the war in Europe all by itself, or even do the majority of the fighting against Hitler. That honor would fall to Russia, and it is through the deaths of the many millions of Russian soldiers that Hitler was ultimately defeated. Here are some facts and figures about the war on the eastern front that help put it into perspective.
1. 80% of all German combat deaths came on the eastern front
2. 13,600,000 Russian soldiers died fighting the Germans
3. Approximately 2,500,000 Germans died on the eastern front
4. More Russians died in the Siege of Leningrad than did all Americans and British for the entire war.
5. The Battle of Kursk was the largest tank battle in history with a total of 3,600 tanks in action.
6. Nearly 80% of all Soviet male children born in 1923 were killed during the war.
World War II Causalities by Countryj
*These numbers are estimates and vary according to