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The Hammer: How to Stop Putin

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The U.S. needs a serious foreign policy

Charles Krauthammer writes:  The president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council challenges critics of President Obama’s Ukraine policy by saying “What are you going to do, send the 101st Airborne into Crimea?” Not exactly subtle. And rather silly, considering that no one has proposed such a thing.

[Charles Krauthammer is the author of  Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” Check it out at Amazon]

The alternative to passivity is not war but a serious foreign policy. For the last five years, Obama’s fruitless accommodationism has invited the kind of aggressiveness demonstrated by Iran in Syria, China in the East China Sea, and Russia in Ukraine. But what’s done is done. Put that aside. What is to be done now?

We have three objectives. In ascending order of difficulty: Reassure NATO. Deter further Russian incursion into Ukraine. Reverse the annexation of Crimea.

Reassure NATO:

We’re already sending U.S. aircraft to patrol the airspace of the Baltic states. That’s not enough.

1. Send the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the Baltics to arrange joint maneuvers.

2. Same for the four NATO countries bordering Ukraine — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.

3. Urgently revive the original missile-defense agreements concluded with Poland and the Czech Republic before Obama canceled them unilaterally to appease Russia.

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China and Russia Bring Back Cold War Tactics

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 writes: Every time I say anything to anyone anywhere about Russia nowadays, that’s what I’m asked. And there is a clear answer: No. This is not a new Cold War. Neither the United States nor Europe is locked in a deadly, apocalyptic competition with Russia, China or anyone else. We are not fighting proxy wars. The world has not been divided into two Orwellian halves, democrats vs. communists.

china_space2But although we are not fighting a new Cold War, the tactics of the old Cold War are now, at the dawn of 2014, suddenly being deployed in a manner not seen since the early 1980s. We in the United States may not believe that we are engaged in an ideological struggle with anybody, but other people are engaged in an ideological struggle with us. We in the United States may not believe that there is any real threat to our longtime alliance structures in Europe and Asia, but other people think those alliances are vulnerable and have set out to undermine them.

Sometimes these gestures are quite open. China’s recent, unilateral declaration of anew air defense zone in the 5856_mainEast China Sea was a clear attempt to warn its neighbors that its navy is preparing to compete with the U.S. fleet. The Chinese naval ship that recently cut in front of a U.S. destroyer, forcing it to change course, sent a similar message. Neither of these incidents signals the start of a cold, hot or any other kind of war. But they do mean that China intends to chip away at the status quo, to undermine the faith of U.S. allies — Japan, South Korea, the Philippines — in American power and force them to think twice, at the very least, about their old economic, military and trade agreements.

Over the past year, Russia has been playing the same kind of games with NATO: no open threats, just hints. Last spring, the Russian air force staged a mock attack on Sweden, came perilously close to Swedish air space and buzzed Gotland Island. The Swedish air force failed to react — it was after midnight on Good Friday — though eventually two Danish planes scrambled to follow the Russian planes back across the Baltic. Russian officials have also made veiled (and not so veiled) threats to Finland, selectively boycotted industries in the Baltic states and dropped hints that Russia intends to put, or might already have put, longer-range missiles on its Western border — missiles designed to hit Germany.

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I repeat: Russia does not intend to start a war. Russia, rather, intends in the short term to undermine regional confidence in NATO, in U.S. military guarantees, in West European solidarity. In the longer term, Russia wants Scandinavia, the Baltic states and eventually all of Europe to accept Russian policies in other spheres.

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