Thursday, September 17, 2009

Springtime for Putin and Medvedev

President Obama has done some very dumb political things since taking office. He's appointed people who have had obvious scandal problems and he's later had to withdraw their appointments. He badly underestimated the resistance there would be to the Cap and Trade energy tax that the Green wing of his party wants badly. And he was clumsy in the way he tried to sell his health care plan with the result that his Democratic Party allies have been put into bad political positions this summer.

But none of those mistakes were very surprising in light of the fact that he has not had much experience on the national scene. And none of those mistakes will necessarily doom Obama to being written down as one of the truly bad presidents, like Jimmy Carter. People forget that Bill Clinton, who is now considered a political genius, also made clumsy mistakes during his first few months in office. Lots of new presidents have made dumb mistakes early in their terms and then gone on to improve the quality of the advisors around them, reassess their plans and goals, and manage to do pretty well on the whole.

But today President Obama cancelled the missile defense system that's been negotiated for and planned for Western Europe since the Clinton Administration. As a result he betrayed the governments of Poland and The Czech Republic, which had each agreed to have one of the missile defense bases in their country despite knowing that it would cause them to get a lot of heat from the Russians. He made the Poles and the Czechs look profoundly stupid for trusting the U.S. and taking that heat over the past few years. And he gave a major psychological and political boost to Russia's thuggish leader Vladimir Putin, who had opposed the missile defense system even though it was not designed or planned to defend against Russian missiles but rather against potential Iranian or Pakistani missiles in the future.

This could have been put down to mere foolishness or inexperience on Obama's part if he had announced it last week, or next week, or even yesterday, or tomorrow. But he didn't do that. He announced it today, September 17th, of all days.

For those of you who didn't study any history in high school, today is the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939. The Russians under Joseph Stalin invaded Poland on September 17th, 1939 as part of a cynical deal they had made with Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Germany to divide Poland up between them.

And on this day, of all days in the year, President Obama has betrayed the Poles and given a major concession to the Russians.

Anyone who thinks this is a mere coincidence, or the result of mere stupidity on the part of President Obama and his advisors must also believe in the tooth fairy. Certainly no one who has read anything about European history will believe it was a mere coincidence or the result of mere stupidity.

Vladimir Putin and Dymitry Medvedev certainly won't take it as a coincidence or mere stupidity. They will take it as a clear signal that the U.S. is no longer interested in central Europe and that the Poles and Ukrainians and Lithuanians and Latvians and Estonians are on their own. Those peoples, in turn will decide either to make accommodation with Russia or they will decide to prepare to resist, either of which will almost surely start again the whole insane central European power politics game that resulted in about a hundred million dead soldiers and civilians in the last century.

The lights will be on late tonight in every military headquarters and foreign office in Europe as prectical military men and diplomats start the process of revising all their plans and reassessing all of their assumptions about the future of peace in Europe.

1 comment:

CK MacLeod said...

Hey, Sully, why not take advantage of your authoring privileges cross-post this one at ZC? And I still think you should give the titanium spork serious avatar consideration.