The Hammer: ‘Make a Damned Decision’

“What is the president’s reaction? You say what matters is not where he is. He’s had no reaction — he’s had no reaction to anything that I can tell in the last six months.”

— Charles Krauthammer

Obama Should ‘Make a Damned Decision’ about Ukraine

Via The Corner: Charles Krauthammer harshly criticized President Barack Obama for his reaction, or lack thereof, to the news that an airliner was shot down in Ukraine today. The president needs to ”make a damned decision for once in his life,” Krauthammerukr-mil said, and agree to help arm the Ukrainian military.

“The rebels and the Russians are killing the Ukrainians in large numbers by shooting them out of the sky. The least the president can do is . . . announce that we are now going to supply lethal weapons to assist the Ukrainians in defending themselves..”

“What is the president’s reaction?” Krauthammer asked fellow panelist Juan Williams, who expressed skepticism that the president’s continuing with his normal schedule today was blameworthy…(read more)

National Review Online

Foreign Policy Rooted in Wishful Thinking


Another revealing article about the President of the United States of Fantasyland. How the U.S. and its allies can tolerate this for three more years remains a mystery…

Mark Salter  writes:  For the briefest of moments Thursday, a certain cable news network stopped breathlessly reporting on the missing Malaysian airliner as if its disappearance is a harbinger of the end times, and turned to another news story of more lasting importance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“…five-plus years of a mostly rhetorical foreign policy, where the president seeks to woo the world with words, but where deeds rarely follow and wishful thinking passes for strategy.”

A brief summary of the dreary news of the day from that embattled nation ended with a mention of some thuggish behavior by extremists who represent a small faction of Ukrainian nationalists. The incident provoked a comment from the show’s host. I can’t find a transcript of the remarks, but as best I remember it went something like this: We’ve been told the Russians are the bad guys and the Ukrainians are the good guys but things are never as simple as we’re told. Sometimes America supports some pretty bad people.

Well, one thing is certain. Things are never as simple as many cable news hosts try to make them out to be. But in this instance, contrary to the opinion stated above, the conflict essentially is a contest between good and bad.

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Old School! Zbigniew Brzezinski Weighs in…

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser from 1977 to 1981. (Who next? Henry Kissinger? McGeorge Bundy?) 

Brzezinski_ZbigniewMr Z writes:  Regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine, much depends on what Vladi­mir Putin does next. But what Putin does depends on not only his calculation of the likely NATO (and especially the U.S.) response but also his estimate of how fiercely the Ukrainian people would respond to any further escalation by Russia. And, to complete the circle, the Ukrainian response would be influenced by citizens’ reaction to any further repetition of Putin’s Crimean aggression and by whether the nation believes that the United States and NATO are truly supportive.

Putin’s thuggish tactics in seizing Crimea offer some hints regarding his planning. He knew in advance that his thinly camouflaged invasion would meet with popular support from the Russian majority in Crimea. He was not sure how the thin and light Ukrainian military units stationed there would react, so he went in masked like a Mafia gangster. In the event of serious Ukrainian resistance, he could disown the initiative and pull back…Read the rest

The Washington Post

Walter Russell Mead: Springtime in Kiev, or Just Another Winter Storm?


With a revolution on, the chances that events in Ukraine could provoke a dangerous confrontation between Russia and the West may be increasing.

Walter Russell Mead writes:  For the third time in a generation, there is revolution in Ukraine. For the second time in a decade, Viktor Yanukovych has been overthrown in Kiev. It is impossible not to rejoice that the goons and thugs who sought to tie Ukraine to Putin’s imperial project by massacring their fellow citizens in the streets of Kiev were defeated. But it is much too soon to conclude that the next Ukrainian government, whatever it may be, will be any more successful than its predecessors.

“The political leadership of virtually every major party or movement in Ukrainian life is sketchy at best; many are corrupt tools of business interests, some are inexperienced hotheads with ties to dubious forms of ultra-nationalist ideology…”

Worse, if anything the chances that events in Ukraine could provoke a dangerous confrontation between Russia and the West may be increasing.

[Check out Walter Russell Mead’s book “Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World” at Amazon]

None of the core facts in Ukraine changed last night. Ukraine is a divided country with a weak state and ineffective institutions. The oligarchs who clawed their way to the top when communism collapsed still hold their ill-gotten gains, still manage their business affairs in the Wild East ways of the post-Soviet days, still dominate politics and economic development and have yet to be brought under any kind of effective legal control. Ukraine’s abject energy dependence on Russia creates a sea of political and economic problems which no Ukrainian government since independence has been able to manage.

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The Roots of the Ukraine Protests: Stalin’s Genocide


Alec Torres writes:  As hundreds of thousands continue to occupy Kiev’s Maidan square, and protests rage across Ukraine, plenty of explanations have been offered for the unrest, which was triggered by the Ukrainian president’s considering a closer relationship with Russia. It’s about a clash of economic interests, some say, or the divide between the western and eastern halves of the country, the latter Russian-speaking and much more industrial. While those issues are important, Walter Zaryckyj, executive director for the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR), argues that the mass protests have deeper roots: in Stalin’s great genocide by famine of the Ukrainian people in the 1930s and Ukraine’s collective memory of the atrocity.

stalinZaryckyj, who has been in consultation with experts in Eastern Europe, such as former Ukrainian parliament member and National Institute of Strategic Studies senior analyst Evhen Zherebetsky, as well as with people on the ground in the protests, such as the CUSUR’s own Marko Suprun, tells National Review Online that to understand the protests now one must look to what happened 80 years ago.

“There’s a conscious element of a memory of nation breaking. It isn’t just of famine. The Ukrainians have a lingering memory of a previous union with the Russians that nearly broke the back of their nation,” Zaryckyj tells me. “In fact, some may claim that it did break them.”

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor — a genocidal famine inflicted on the Ukrainian people by Stalin’s Soviet government, during which millions perished in the span of months and Ukraine’s intelligentsia and political, social, and religious elites were annihilated.

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Genocide: Stalin’s Great Famine Still Haunts Ukraine


Starving children in the Ukraine during the Holodomor, 1932-33

Eighty years later, there’s no denying the Soviet atrocity.

 “We went to a field. We had nothing to eat. Everything was taken from us. So my mother decided we would go to the field, find some half-frozen potatoes, some kind of vegetables, to make a soup. At that time the Soviet Union was teaching people to report on each other, to spy on each other. Somebody saw that we came with some vegetables, half-frozen, and they arrested my mother. That was the last time I saw her.”

Alec Torres writes:  So Eugenia Dallas, originally Eugenia Sakevych, began her story to me. Born in Ukraine around 1925 (she does not know her exact age), Eugenia lived through the Holodomor — genocide by famine — as a young girl. Shortly before her mother was taken, her father was sent to Siberia, deemed a criminal because he owned a few acres of land.

In 1932–33, Ukraine was brought to its knees. After years of mass arrests and deportations had failed to bring the Ukrainians into line, Stalin decided to crush this proud nation with a new weapon: food. Ukraine, once the breadbasket of Europe, was stripped of its grain. With its borders sealed and its citizens imprisoned, an estimated 4 to 14 million people starved to death as food rotted in silos or was sold abroad. Stalin wanted purity, and Ukraine’s nationalism threatened his perverse utopia.

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