Every president has his issues and by that I mean the things he likes to work on as a matter of policy. Johnson was a natural at domestic policy wrangling. Nixon had a great mind for foreign affairs. Clinton loved interns. Bush the Younger became a war president and surrounded himself with people good at prosecuting wars. The defect in the American system is that we are stuck with our president until he dies, leaves office or is voted out in the next election, which rarely happens. So, if our guy is not very interested in foreign affairs, like is the case with Obama, you have to hope nothing big happens in the world while he is in office. Otherwise, it can get ugly.
The Europeans seem to have figured this out finally. I’m surprised it has taken so long, but old habits die hard. Most of our post-WW2 presidents have had experienced people to rely on for this stuff and all of them have been willing to work with the Europeans. Some of them too much, but that’s hardly a vice. You can disagree with the policy, but even our week presidents have not followed weird policy goals. Obama is the exception. He has a weak team and he seems to hold the Europeans in contempt.
I think Europe has finally thrown in the towel and is ready to walk away from the US, at least when it comes to Ukraine.
MUNICH (Reuters) – The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France agreed to meet in Belarus on Wednesday to try to broker a peace deal for Ukraine amid escalating violence there and signs of cracks in the transatlantic consensus on confronting Vladimir Putin.
The four leaders held a call on Sunday, two days after Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Moscow for talks with Putin that produced no breakthrough in the nearly year-long conflict that has claimed over 5,000 lives.
After the call, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said progress had been made and that he was hopeful the meeting in Minsk would lead to a “swift and unconditional ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have stepped up a military offensive in recent weeks, seizing new territory.
But Putin warned in a newspaper interview that Kiev must stop its military operation in east Ukraine and stop exerting economic pressure on rebel-held regions.
“Kiev’s attempts to exert economic pressure on Donbas (region of east Ukraine) and disrupt its daily life only aggravates the situation. This is a dead-end track, fraught with a big catastrophe,” Putin told Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram, according to an English transcript provided by the Kremlin.
A Ukraine military spokesman said on Sunday that intense fighting was continuing around the rail junction town of Debaltseve, with rebel fighters making repeated attempts to storm lines defended by government troops.
At a high-level security conference in Munich over the weekend, Merkel said it was uncertain whether further negotiations would lead to a deal with Putin but argued that all opportunities for a diplomatic solution should be pursued.
She came under sharp criticism from U.S. Senators Lyndsey Graham and John McCain, both Republican hawks, for opposing the sending of defensive weapons to the Ukraine army to help it fight the separatists.
“The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we’re sending them blankets and meals,” McCain said in Munich. “Blankets don’t do well against Russian tanks.”
If you’re Merkel, Hollande and Putin, you have to be thinking you’re on your own at this point.Obama let the State Department run wild in Ukraine, helping create this mess. Victoria Nuland should have been publicly sacked so as to show the World Obama is not going to tolerate that sort of bungling. Instead this woman stays on, like a big”FU” to the Europeans. Further, Obama keeps sending John Kerry to Europe, despite the fact everyone thinks he is a ridiculous person.
The bellicose ramblings of the warmongers in the GOP must be very concerning. A weak president surrounded by boobs can be bulldozed by a John McCain channeling Cato the Elder. Americans are largely clueless about the politics in the provinces, the rest of the world watches American politics closely. They have to worry that weak, lame duck president could be bullied into doing something stupid. Eliminating that possibility means even a bad deal is a good deal.
The trouble with the Europeans turning their back on Obama is it means turning their back on America, if they can make a deal with Putin. Putin surely knows this so now he has a reason to make a deal over Ukraine. There’s the looming Greek problem that could also complicate things. When Cyprus is talking with Russia about military bases, it’s reasonable to assume the Greeks would jump at such a deal. The rest of Europe has to think they would be better off letting the Russian have Ukraine back so they can focus on their other issues to the south.
I don’t think Putin is the evil genius many on the Right think. It’s just that he is matched against a nitwit. In comparison to Obama, Putin looks like Goldfinger.