Monday, February 8, 2010
Losing Eastern Europe
Apparently part of the "Reset" strategy of the Obama administration includes ceding Western influence in Eastern Europe. The first domino appears to have now fallen as Ukraine has elected a new President that leans back towards Moscow, erasing the winds of freedom that blew in the Orange Revolution of 2004. The parallels to Jimmy Carter's weakness that resulted in Soviet emboldenment could not be more clear. The two key movements that this dithering, hapless foreign policy team have shown the master chess players of Moscow, confirmed what they already knew - Barry O will back down. First, we sent Hillary Clinton over with that ridiculous "Reset Button." Remember this:
Of course it turns out that "peregruzka" has nothing to do with "reset." In fact, it means either "cargo transfer" or "overload." Regardless of it's meaning, the symbology could not have been clearer: "we are changing course from the BAAAD Bush days where they were so mean to you!" Russian translation: "you guys are weak, and we will exploit this situation. There is no question that Bush misread the Russians early on - remember that horrifying "I looked into his eyes..." comment about Putin. The reality is that from the days of the Dukes of Muscovy, the only language they understand and respect is force.
The second faux pas by these incompetents was pulling the plug on Polish missiles. The Russians have never liked short range missiles anywhere near them (neither for that matter do we), but these were meant to deter Iranian progress and protect Europe from that threat, not intimidate the Russians. There was plenty of room to maneuver there, but that chance is now gone. Again, what was the Russian translation? "This guy makes Jimmy Carter look like Ronald Reagan!"
This is not to say our two countries cannot get along, they can. But we need to be clear in our understanding about the greater Russian paranoia that drives their foreign policy. They have been invaded by land by the French and the Germans and they harbor a grudge against the progress of the West. The paranoia drives them to seek a buffer - that's where Ukraine comes in. The Ukrainians long for freedom, but they cannot afford it if it means Russian meddling and threatening. Without western support, they have no choice but to go back under the Soviet, err, Russian umbrella.
While the election results are not yet confirmed, and there are a lot of allegations of fraud, a victory by Yanukovich is a victory for the Kremlin. And remember, the Russians have always been damned good at subterfuge; mucking up an election so their guy can win is a walk in the park. So instead of working towards a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation, Obama's weakness has roused the Russian bear. I don't blame the Russians for being opportunistic - it's good chess to exploit the weakness of your opponent and gain strategic advantage. But, like all liberal pipe dreams, the law of unintended consequences again rears its ugly head.
With Ukraine back in the fold, the other former Soviet satellites have to start rethinking their position. Their choice will be to either succumb to the incessant pressure from Moscow, or man up and arm up. The former situation creates panic in places like Poland and the Czech Republic, which increases the instability of the region. The latter just directly increases the instability of the region. Liberals' child like understanding of the role of strength in world affairs is creating yet another mess. And the lesson of exploitation of weakness is not lost on people like Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez and Achmadinijad. There is a darkness creeping across the globe as hope for freedom is snuffed out. How's that for hopey change?