Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama's goes to Europe

The New York Times just ran a piece on President Obama's trip to Europe starting with this;

"President Obama leaves for Europe on Monday night cautiously optimistic that the crisis in Ukraine has turned a corner, but he will find himself face to face with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for the first time since the two squared off in a Cold-War-style showdown in Eastern Europe." N.Y. Times

Propaganda, or what is more politely called "spin", is a very dangerous thing.  It trying to make the President look more successful, the White House and American media are deluding themselves into thinking Ukraine has turned a corner.  The new Ukrainian president and Russian separatists will continue their conflict with Russia aiding the separatists.  Far from turning a corner, this may signal the beginning of a much broader quest by Putin.  He may have started with Crimea but his long term plan may be for annexing Lithuania or Latvia next.  He also has shown that Washington is now looking to contract out its direct action to third parties and will rely on "multilateral partnerships" to influence others.  Good but I'm not certain that this strategy is going to be as effective as Mr. Obama and Susan Rice hope.

The fallacy in their strategy is revealed by Poland.

“What we most need to hear from President Obama is what to do with Ukraine, how to deal with this new Russia,” said Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland. “We are not interested in a confrontation with the Russians. We are not interested in Cold War II. But we will have a difficult time getting through the next four or five months without very clear and very determined American leadership.”

Poland has spent the last decade shifting focus from Washington to Berlin and Brussels, while nursing a raft of grievances and disappointments over what it saw as America’s inattention and insensitivity. Warsaw bristled when Mr. Obama canceled his predecessor’s plans to station interceptors in Poland as part of a missile defense system. But a reformulated missile defense program approved by Mr. Obama will include a site in Poland."--N.Y. Times

Herein lies the challenge for Obama and his administration.  They may provide interviews and press releases about "multilateral partnerships" but when your "partners" feel you have abandoned them, how  really effective can this strategy be?

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